Watching sports these days requires a certain amount of cognitive dissonance, so I can’t imagine what it takes to be playing high-level professional sports these days.
With that said, whatever it takes to be motivated and sharp while playing during a pandemic seems to be finding Minnesota’s teams in great quantities. In the four major leagues that have restarted involving Minnesota teams — MLS, MLB, WNBA and NHL — the combined winning percentage of the teams is .789.
Of particular significance: Minnesota United is 2-0 in the knockout stage of the MLS Is Back tournament, while the Wild took a 1-0 series lead over Vancouver in its best-of-five play-in series late Sunday with a convincing 3-0 win.
United is now 3-0-2 overall since the MLS restart last month. The Lynx are off to a strong 3-1 start through a difficult opening four-game stretch. And the Twins are 7-2 after taking three of four games from rival Cleveland over the weekend.
If we’re just talking about Friday-Sunday: Those four teams went a perfect 6-0.
How do we explain the massive early success? Here are three quick theories:
*Minnesotans are quite good at compartmentalizing their feelings and pushing forward during hard times. Perhaps our sports teams are doing the same thing by shoving aside concerns over the pandemic to perform very well at their jobs.
*The Twins, Lynx, United and Wild are all good teams, so it shouldn’t be surprising they are performing well. That’s true to a certain degree, though it stands to reason they are over-performing expectations collectively by a degree or two.
*Which brings us to three: 19 games is a small and dangerous sample size, and it’s almost inevitable that things will even out soon — quite possibly in a way that will make me look like I jinxed everything, even if that’s not true.
Perhaps the true answer is some combination of two or more of these things. Whatever the case: If we are going to have an abundance of local teams playing during these strange times, watching them win on TV is much nicer than seeing them lose.