In compiling a list of the 10 most polarizing/controversial subjects in Minnesota sports — with the much-appreciated help of some good reader suggestions — a theme emerged.
Generally, speaking, there are three things Minnesota fans have a particular disdain for: 1) Someone who isn’t doing a good job, particularly relative to salary; 2) The idea that their team is getting unfairly treated or that someone has an unfair competitive advantage; 3) The unwise spending of money.
In any event, here is the list of 10 (in no particular order):
• Joe Mauer: One of just three individuals to crack the top 10, Mauer is a near-perfect storm as someone who is from here, has a huge contract, has underperformed lately, and doesn’t show a lot outward fire or passion.
• Stadium funding: We could be talking Twins stadium, Vikings stadium, U of M athletic facilities or even a proposed new soccer stadium. It doesn’t matter. It’s the same argument over and over.
• Quarterback play: It’s impossible to count the number of quarterbacks who have gone for a ride on the Minnesota roller coaster, but Gophers QB Mitch Leidner is the most recent. Christian Ponder and Leidner should compare notes.
• Poor officiating (perceived or real): Minnesotans haven’t forgotten about Drew Pearson’s play 40 years ago, so is it really a surprise that they can’t get over Phil Cuzzi?
• Dominant high school teams: The big three subjects here, all lumped together: programs that illicitly recruit players (perceived or real); programs that win because they’re too big to fail; programs that don’t play a high enough level of competition. All of these will set an online comments section completely on fire with fans on both sides.
• Offensive coordinator play calling: Griping about the offensive coordinator became an art form, at least for my coming-of-age generation, with the Vikings’ Bob Schnelker. Now it’s tied with blaming the quarterback as the go-to complaint.
• Adrian Peterson: He was about the least-polarizing athlete in Minnesota history until last September. After the child abuse scandal, the “hasn’t he served his time!” vs. “How can you root for him?” debate begins anew every week.
• Mikko Koivu: He and Mauer were born about a month apart in 1983, and it’s fitting. In terms of fan angst and chatter, with the requisite supporters and detractors, Koivu is the hockey Mauer.
• Spending too much and spending not enough: Basically, every team should spend just the right amount of money on exactly the right players. Then everyone would be happy. (This is particularly true of the Twins and the Pohlads, who are alternately called cheap and imprudent).
• Local TV and radio broadcasters: Few things stir up the passion of fans, for better or worse, than a good ol’ discussion about the folks who call the games we watch.
The beauty of this top 10 is that even after consulting fans there is plenty of room for disagreement. Maybe the most polarizing things of all are lists like this?