The likelihood is that Minnesota will be marking in 2016 the 25th anniversary of its last championship in one of the four major professional leagues. As hours are killed on sports talk radio, it is not unusual to hear a discussion as to which team is likely to bring us the first important pro title since the 1991 Twins:
Vikings, Wild, Timberwolves or Twins (again)?
I was looking at this from another angle last week — not based on the current condition of those teams, but rather where the odds and requirements are most favorable for putting together a championship team.
Here's the way I would rate the leagues as far as winning a championship in a market such as the Twin Cities, from most difficult (1) to least difficult (4).
4. NHL. As of now, 57 percent of the teams in the Western Conference (home of the Wild) reach the playoffs. All it takes is to get in that top eight and there's a much better chance to keep advancing than in the other majors.
The nature of the game — low-scoring outcomes often based on unpredictable bounces and ricochets — dictates a high degree of equality in competition.
3. NFL. A much-flawed team can go 9-7 and win a four-team division that's in a down year and, presto, it's playing a home playoff game. There's building involved, obviously, and you need a quarterback, but let's face it:
If the schedule turns out favorable, you don't have to be that good to reach the playoffs, and then it takes only four victories (or three) to win a Super Bowl. Nasty game, but not nearly the postseason grind of the other majors.
2. MLB. Getting there is the tough part. You have to survive a marathon, and then your most important assets — starting pitchers — have to add another month of innings to their drained arms. This is a contest of attrition.
1. NBA. There are 30 teams and a team has to finish the 82-game season as one of the four or five best to have a chance. The assets required to build an NBA champion are unmatched in the four major sports leagues.