The decade of the 2010s has not been particularly impressive for the Twin Cities’ four primary entities in professional sports. There certainly has been an upgrade in facilities with Target Field for the Twins, the soon-to-open Taj Ma-Zygi for the Vikings and the Mayo Clinic Square practice facility for the Timberwolves.
As for performance on the court, the ice or the field, there has been little glory in the standings.
The Twins opened Target Field with 94 wins and record attendance in 2010, then were swept by the Yankees in a division series to run the postseason losing streak to 12 games.
Over the past six seasons (entering the weekend series in New York), the Twins are 140 games under .500, they fired a manager (Ron Gardenhire) for the first time since 1986, and they fired a general manager (Bill Smith) for the first time in team history.
The Vikings are 42-53-1 since 2010. They have been in the playoffs twice, losing in the first round both times. Mike Zimmer is the third head coach of the decade.
The Timberwolves are 174-384 starting with the 2009-10 season, and their non-playoff streak now stands at 12 seasons. Tom Thibodeau will be the fifth head coach of the decade.
The Wild has lost 10 more regular-season games than it has won dating to the 2009-10 season. The Skating Ws have two series victories in four playoff appearances and a postseason record of 13-21. Bruce Boudreau will be the fourth coach of the decade.
Not much to write home about it, as we used to say when Americans occasionally wrote home.
There are now expectations for excellence for the Vikings, and playoff contention for the Timberwolves, and those could come to fruition. Or not.
The Wild has issues, even with the respected new coach. And to use the traditional cliché — “low ebb” — would not do justice to the gloom surrounding the Twins.
So that’s the Big Four. But how about the Next Four among our pro sports entities?
Things hardly could be finer with these folks, starting with the Lynx, defending WNBA champions and 13-0 before Friday night’s loss to the L.A. Sparks at Target Center.
The Lynx were a non-entity from their inception in 1999 through 2010. Even with Seimone Augustus and newly acquired Lindsay Whalen, they went 13-21 and missed the playoffs for the 11th time in 12 summers in 2010.
And then they used the No. 1 overall selection in 2011 to take Maya Moore. Things have a tendency to improve when you bring in the best player in the world.
Three titles in this decade for flamboyant coach Cheryl Reeve, and now the deepest crew of veterans yet for Lynx. There’s also this:
Lynx fans don’t have to share the paranoia of Timberwolves followers that the best players will want to leave Minnesota. Moore re-upped here with a multi-year contract in 2015.
Hey, she’s here in the summer (not winter) and winning, so why not?
The other outfits in the Next Four are the Minnesota United FC soccer lads, Canterbury Park’s horse racing and the St. Paul Saints independent baseball team in the American Association.
Dr. Bill McGuire rescued a league-owned soccer team called Minnesota Stars FC in November 2012.
Improvements were made to the stadium setting at the National Sports Center in Blaine. The fans group, the “Dark Clouds,” helped to spread the word and soon young, enthused crowds were showing up.
The average attendance for Stars FC in 2012 was 2,796. The average attendance last season for United FC was 8,805. The average is there again in 2016.
The enthusiasm was such that McGuire and fellow investors were able to secure the promise of a Major League Soccer expansion franchise (for $100 million expansion fee) a year ago.
All that awaits is Gov. Dayton and the Republicans reaching a compromise on the unsigned tax bill that currently includes a favorable provision for United that will lead to new soccer stadium in the Midway area of St. Paul.
Oh, yeah. United (a k a, Loons) also has done very well competitively. On Saturday night, the Loons will take on Club León of Mexico at Target Field in an ambitious international exhibition.
Meantime, on the eastern edge of downtown St. Paul, the Saints are in their second summer in glorious CHS Field. They went 74-26 and drew 404,526 ticket buyers in 50 games in 2015. They are winning and drawing big again and official summer is just getting started.
As for Canterbury, it has continued to benefit from the 2012 agreement with the tribal owners of Mystic Lake that has pumped money into the purses for live racing. The Canterbury horsemen are running for $205,000 a day, compared to half that before the deal with the Mdewakanton Sioux.
The Next Four: Lynx, Loons, Saints and the Canterbury ponies are enjoying a fine time in the 2010s, even if the Big Four have not to this point.