At the risk of jinxing everything, we made it.
Yes, yes. April snowstorm this, freezing rain that. The 10-day forecast looks really good. At least right now, it feels like we made it through winter.
And as of Wednesday, we officially did. More (very) specifically: At 4:58 p.m. Wednesday, the spring equinox happens. You'll start the day in winter and finish in spring. How's that for a metaphor?
But spring is about more than just the weather. It's about state of mind. So here, dear Minnesota sports enthusiast, are 10 signs that will tell you just as surely as the calendar that spring has arrived:
• There's a definite increase in chatter about the Twins. MLB, in its infinite wisdom, scheduled the Twins to open at home March 28. That's barely a week away, and about a week ago that seemed ludicrous. But now? The extended forecast says Minneapolis might hit 60 for that 3:10 p.m. game vs. Cleveland. That's downright tropical.
• The talk about the weather has changed from everything we are enduring to everything we just endured — and how much nicer it is now.
• You're likely going to be spotting runners and walkers on sidewalks and trails in full force. They might have the widest smiles imaginable (hand raised here, after finally getting outside this week to run for the first time in two months). And they will have very different interpretations of what is appropriate to wear when it's 45 degrees. Everything from shorts and tank tops to three thick layers. If you feel seen, it's probably for a reason.
• There will be a definite uptick in men's college hockey trash talk. This used to be particularly good during the days of the old WCHA Final Five at Xcel Energy Center, and Gophers fans used to be at the center of a lot of it. Now? It's more about which non-metro Minnesota school — St. Cloud State, Minnesota State Mankato or Minnesota-Duluth — has the best chance to win a natty.
• The Gophers women's hockey team is getting ready for the Frozen Four. Set your watch to this happening in late March (even if a watch that works on years instead of seconds would be very inefficient). Minnesota faces Cornell on Friday in the semifinals.
• The Wild is fighting for a playoff spot. The local NHL team has made the playoffs six years in a row, but it has also made a habit of often taking things down to the wire. I was accused in a sports staff meeting Tuesday of saying "that's a huge game" after we talked about any remaining Wild game. But it's true!
• The Wolves are headed for the lottery. Last year's pleasant playoff diversion aside, this has been the norm for the Wolves since the days of Latrell Sprewell trying to feed his family. This year is no different.
• Vikings fans are complaining about the offensive line. It's an annual concern that resurfaces every March as the new league year begins. And the fans aren't wrong.
• An NFL team has been declared the champion of the offseason. Congratulations, Cleveland. All the Browns have to do now is convert potential into success while overcoming decades of their own ineptitude.
• You are worried about your NCAA men's basketball bracket. The minute you turn it in, the fretting begins. Just as long as you didn't hitch your hopes to Virginia, you should be fine. Wait, you didn't, did you?