Minnesotans woke up to some very cold realities Thursday.
The first was the weather, of course, which is just dumb. Sure, all this snow will be gone soon. But that doesn't improve anyone's mood now. I ran outside in shorts and a T-shirt on Monday, by the way. Thursday it was a trudge in winter boots and the heavy coat.
But the other cold reality is a metaphor that has nothing to do with the stuff falling from the sky and everything to do with the sky-is-falling world of local sports.
After six consecutive seasons of mostly frustrating but also exciting entries for the Wild in the playoffs, and after the Timberwolves broke through finally last year to make the postseason, here it is mid-April and both their seasons are done.
We've known for a while that the Wolves were going to come up short, but their season finale Wednesday at Denver (fittingly another loss and another blown lead) drove the point home; the Wild's slide made it seem likely until it was official not that long ago.
It punctuates a dramatic negative turnaround. In seasons that started in 2017 (some of which finished in that year, some that didn't), the Lynx, Twins, Vikings, Wild and Wolves all made the playoffs. They provided thrilling moments along the way like the Minneapolis Miracle and the fourth WNBA title in seven years for the Lynx.
In seasons that started in 2018, all but the Lynx missed the postseason — and even their trip there was just one game and fell short of the standard they had previously set.
Throw Minnesota United's two playoff misses in 2017 and '18 into the mix — worthy of inclusion, though sometimes tossed aside because their infancy in Major League Soccer negates any historical comparisons to the other five — and it's been a rough year.
As if to drive the point home (or maybe just prove a point), a reader mysteriously and magically retweeted something I wrote exactly one year ago Thursday on April 11, 2018:
"Lynx, Twins, Vikings, Wild and Wolves all made the playoffs consecutively. All we do is win here."
See, I ... um ... what I meant is ...
Well, the internet is forever, even if good things happening to local teams isn't.
But maybe reason to believe the shutout streak won't continue? The Loons are off to a good start, and the MLS playoffs expanded from 12 to 14 (out of 24) teams qualifying this year. So 58% of teams make it. Why not Minnesota?
The Twins are also off to a promising start, even if they are returning home to a snow-covered stadium. The Lynx and Wild are in major transitions right now, but they get the benefit of the doubt as the steadiest local pro teams this decade. Better health, less drama and a little bit of lottery luck are the key ingredients for a bounceback year from the Wolves.
For now, though, it doesn't feel great — especially compared to last year.
The negative run won't melt away as fast or easily as this snow, but at least this is true: No team that started its season in 2019 has missed the playoffs yet.