If you’re still sorting through the sting of Wisconsin’s 38-17 win over the Gophers on Saturday — trying to see the positives in an excellent season despite hopes of a College Football Playoff shot but more likely a Rose Bowl bid going by wayside — you’re in luck.
OK, maybe that’s the wrong word. But you, dear Minnesota sports fan, have plenty of recent history upon which to draw.
If you’re a soccer fan, just think back a little more than a month ago, when Minnesota United’s first foray in the Major League Soccer playoffs ended abruptly with a home loss to the L.A. Galaxy in the opener.
Baseball is more your thing? Peel that fresh scab from early October, when you believed the 101-win Twins would fare differently in the postseason against the Yankees — only to see the season end with another sweep.
Around this time last year, Gophers volleyball fans dreamed of their team winning a national championship at Target Center. But before the Gophers could get there, they were bounced in the regionals.
Vikings fans let their guards down after the Minneapolis Miracle and truly believed the Purple would host the Super Bowl. Then 38-7 happened.
Yeah, we’ve gotten pretty good at this business of getting right up to the brink of something truly amazing and then having it come crashing down.
The point here isn’t to bring up bad memories but rather to reinforce two points:
To be let down, you need to have been raised up. All of those seasons brought a great amount of joy that isn’t negated simply by a forgettable finish.
It’s not wrong to keep getting your hopes up. Sure, it might feel like rooting for Minnesota sports brings to mind the adage “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results,” which is often attributed to none other than Albert Einstein.
But really, that’s just sports. You get your hopes up. Sometimes it works out. But whatever happens, you feel something.
And hey, at least unlike all those other examples the Gophers’ season didn’t end Saturday. They still have another game left — a high-profile bowl against what figures to be an excellent opponent.
Another shot at ending this very good season on a high note.
• • •
Speaking of optimism, there is at least a decent chance that the six highest-level professional teams in town — Lynx, Twins, United, Vikings, Wolves and Wild — will all make the playoffs this season.
It’s already happened for the first three, so we’re halfway there. The Vikings can come close to wrapping up at least a wild card with a win Monday at Seattle, and even with a loss they’d still be in great shape.
That brings us to the Wolves and Wild — two teams who, at the start of the season, I wouldn’t have imagined in any sentence involving playoffs except: “They aren’t going to the playoffs.”
The Wolves continued a pesky habit of playing poorly (and losing) at home Sunday with a bad defeat to a struggling Memphis squad, but at 10-9 they would make the playoffs if the season ended today.
The Wild has changed the narrative on its season, at least for now, after that dreadful 1-6 start. At 12-11-4, it has at least worked its way back into the playoff conversation. The Wild even won a non-regulation game Sunday against Dallas, something it hadn’t done all year.
I wouldn’t bet on the Wolves and Wild making their respective postseasons, but it’s more likely than it was six weeks ago.