The narrative of the Wild's trip to the NHL playoffs and the Wolves' trip to the NBA playoffs this year was basically written and decided upon before Game 1 in either series started.
There was very little sense among either local fanbase that, "Hey, this is the playoffs. Anything can happen!" It was pleasant enough at times (particularly the lone win in Game 3 in both cases) but, for the most part, these were as-expected affairs that led to IMMEDIATE questions and demands from fans.
Fire Chuck Fletcher (done) and shake up the roster (we'll see). Demand action from the Timberwolves about Tom Thibodeau (extremely unlikely) and trade Andrew Wiggins (we'll see).
The playoff series were predictable in part because they played out similarly to the regular-season meetings between these sets of teams. But they were also predictable because fans had access to all the information they could ever want that proved the matchups were lopsided.
It reinforced a notion that has been growing inside my head: The more we know about sports and the teams we watch, the less we enjoy them.
Before we get too far, please note this is not an argument that information is bad. That's absurd. I want as much information as possible when I write something, and I think an evolving part of my job is figuring out what information is useful and what is not.
In general, we should want to know more and strive to know more. That's how society and humankind hopefully advances.
Rather, this is an argument that the price we pay sometimes for knowing more is enjoying less.
A more informed fan is a savvier fan, and the information pool with every major sport and league is staggeringly deep right now. It changes the way a fan engages with the information he or she has.
If a team is losing, we can find 17 specific ways to explain it. If we disagree with a personnel move, we can find countless points of evidence to back up our venom.
The same can be said of winning, of course. But here's the thing: roughly 97 percent of teams are going to finish short of a championship every year in the NBA, NHL, NFL and MLB. If making the playoffs isn't good enough for fans, there is naturally going to be more negative than positive data unearthed about "what went wrong."
More information leads to diverse opinions. More data — good and bad — leads to more ways to interpret that data, good and bad.
Once we have that information and those opinions, there are countless ways to share them. Social media plays a role, for sure, with its instant reactions and piling-on mentality. Twitter is a wonderful place with diverse opinions. Just make sure your diverse opinion is the right one, lest the mob descend upon you.
But social media is merely a vehicle for ideas, not the ideas themselves. The ideas are coming from self-made experts who really do know, in many cases, a lot about what is right and wrong about their favorite teams.
Maybe 50 or even 15 years ago, a Twins fan simply would have said "Logan Morrison is a bum." The hyper-aware fan will now dissect his slow start in 24 different painful but nuanced ways while also concluding that Derek Falvey and Thad Levine aren't worth the paper their fancy degrees are printed on.
I dare say that same fan of the past still would have approached every subsequent Morrison at-bat hoping for the best instead of expecting the worst.
That fan from a previous era might not have been smarter, but he or she probably would have enjoyed the experience more.
If information has a cost, this is it.