May 4, 2012; Eden Prairie, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman watches rookie camp at Winter Park. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-US PRESSWIRE
The people in charge of the major Minnesota sports teams believe their respective squads are just a few pieces away from contending. Are any of them actually right?
When it comes to the four major American sports, the Twin Cities area hasn't exactly been "Titletown USA" lately. Far from it in fact--Minnesota's franchises have had very little success to cheer about in the past decade. Let's take a quick refresher course on just how futile the Land of 10,000 Lakes has been when it comes to professional sports in the 21st century:
- The Wild haven't won a playoff series since 2003--their third year of existence. Even though they had the best record in the NHL just before Christmas time, they finished with the fourth-worst record in the Western Conference this year.
- The Twins have made the playoffs five times since 2003, but have managed a grand total of two wins out of 17 games once they got there. This year, they've ridden a big hot streak over the past couple weeks to climb to...what is still the worst record in the American League.
- The Vikings had quite a run with Brett Favre in 2009 before running into Team Bounty in the NFC Championship, but they only have one playoff victory outside of that since 2000. This past year, they tied for the worst record in franchise history while their all-world running back blew out his knee.
- The Timberwolves have been an NBA laughingstock since Kevin Garnett left town in 2004. Just how bad has it been for the Wolves? The 26-40 campaign they just finished was universally considered a rousing success!
I'd remind you that all four of Boston's pro sports teams have won titles in the same time frame, but I'm sure that a Boston fan has already done so in the most obnoxious way possible within the past 20 minutes or so. (AAHHR TEAMS AHH WICKED AHHSOME! I GREW UP NEXT TO TAAHHM BRADY!)
So each of Minnesota's teams have been a collective pile of hot garbage for a while. It happens, right? The bright spot about this streak of ineptitude is that there's only one way to go from here. But which team is best suited to contend for a championship first?
Bob Sansevere recently sat down with executives from all four major franchises and asked them just that: which major league professional team from Minnesota will be next to win a title? (To the smart asses reading this: no, "none of the above" was not an option in our poll at the end.) The answers that Sansevere got from Vikings GM Rick Spielman, Twins President David St. Peter, Timberwolves/Lynx President Chris Wright, and Wild COO Matt Majka were incredibly optimistic.
The fact that all four guys have such a sunny outlook shouldn't be much of a surprise. What else were they going to say? That their teams are horrible and it's going to be a long time before they contend? Their jobs depend on being good in the near future! That said, some of the answers were still a little unexpected.
Wright's answers were particularly entertaining. When he wasn't casually throwing in the fact that the Minnesota Lynx are defending WNBA champions (we get it Chris, and good for them, but the ladies weren't included in this discussion), he said that he would be "very disappointed if [the Timberwolves are] not competing for a championship in three years' time." He also believes that the Timberwolves will be the next Minnesota team to win it all.
OK then! I know that the nucleus of Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love has the team headed in the right direction, but Mr. Wright is aware of the Oklahoma City Thunder, right? The NBA is a very top-heavy league and it'll take more than just one or two more pieces for the T-Wolves to be a serious postseason player.
St. Peter seemed to be the most level-headed when it came to his team's expectations. When asked whether the Twins had the core players for a championship run he responded:
Yes. Some of them. Not all of them, but some of them.
Um, yeah. I would hope that the President of a team already so far below .500 knows that his squad needs some help.
Are the guys in charge being overly optimistic and maybe even a little delusional about their teams' respective futures? Probably. But the Minnesota execs aren't just blowing PR smoke up our butts either. Minnesota's franchises have a lot to be hopeful about.
The Wild are absolutely stacked with young talent coming through their ranks, and the Los Angeles Kings have shown that all you need to do is make the playoffs for a legitimate shot at the Stanley Cup. (Oh, and a hot goalie. One of those doesn't hurt either.) The Twins also have some promising youngsters that are getting valuable major league experience. The Vikings are a handful of "ifs" away from suddenly contending in the topsy-turvy, parity-heavy NFL. We've already talked about the outstanding players the Timberwolves can build upon.
Maybe, just maybe, one of the Minnesota executives is right. Perhaps Minnesota will be home to a major championship sooner than we think. That, or we'll just have to rally behind our awesome WNBA team more.
Which major Minnesota team will win a championship first?
Timberwolves (40 votes)
Twins (8 votes)
Vikings (23 votes)
Wild (31 votes)
102 total votes