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Top 5 Minnesota Sporting Moments in the Last 30 Years

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Minnesota has had some of the most thrilling -- and heartbreaking -- moments in sports. When I first started this list, it was the top five moments of all time, but that's next to impossible. The last 30 years is difficult enough, with franchises moving, championships won ... and a claim to the greatest sports upset in U.S. history. So, let's give this a shot, and feel free to add or subtract as necessary.

5. Favre Joins the Vikings

From 2001-2008, the Minnesota Vikings swam in mediocrity, making the playoffs exactly twice, winning one game. It was close to becoming a lost decade, until the Vikings signed Brett Favre, and they took off. They won a thrilling early-season game against San Francisco, thanks to last-second Favre heroics, and that launched them to a 12-4 record and advanced to the NFC Championship. Favre coming to the Vikings was a seminal moment in the NFL. He is an all time great who played for the Vikings arch rival for 16 years. If that doesn't convince you of the importance of the moment, his every move was monitored by helicopters from the moment he landed in Minnesota until he got to Eden Prairie.

4. Twinkies Win the World Series, 1987

The 1987 Twins literally came out of nowhere to win the division. Other than a run in the mid- and late-1960s, the Twins were the epitome of mediocrity, and 1987 was no different. They won an average American League West division with just 85 wins but spanked AL East champion Detroit. In the World Series, the Twins won all four home games in the friendly and loud confines of the Metrodome, bringing the first major sports championship to Minnesota since the long departed Minneapolis Lakers. For many Minnesota sports fans, it was pure, unadulterated joy.

3. "And we'll see ya....tomorrow night!"

I still have game six of the 1991 World Series on tape, and every now and then I pull it out and watch it. It's pretty much the only reason I still own a VCR. It was tough not to make this No. 1, because I still get goosbumps every time I see it. Kirby Puckett pretty much punched his ticket to Canton with his Game 6 performance, as he tripled in two runs in the first to set the tone, robbed Ron Gant, and then hit the Most Important Home Run In Minnesota Twins History off of Charlie Liebrandt in the bottom of the 11th. 

2. Jack Morris is a MAN

As much as I will love Puckett's Game 6 performance, Morris' Game 7 was better. It was the fitting climax for the seventh game of the Greatest World Series Ever Played. Jack Morris threw a 10-inning shutout, both teams had chances to win in the seventh and improbably didn't, and then Gene Larkin won it in the bottom of the 10th.   

1. U.S. Olympic Hockey Team Wins Gold Medal, 1980

Okay, hear me out on this. Of the 20 guys on the 1980 US Olympic Hockey team, half of them were from Minnesota, and the head coach was Herb Brooks, U of M hockey coach. They pulled the greatest upset in the history of American sports, and a lot of it was due to the play of a bunch of kids from places like Warroad, Roseau and Evelyth, Minn. This was America's Gold Medal, but it was won by Minnesotans from the Iron Range. 

Yes, this list is rife for argument. The Gopher men's hockey team winning back to back national championships, The Vikes 2004 playoff win over Green Bay, the North Stars leaving, the Wild with their improbable run to the Western Conference finals, Scott Erickson's no-hitter, and even the Timberwolves getting within reach of the FInals. They were all great moments, but these five stood out because they were transcendent, surreal, or both.

Photographs by Micah Taylor, clairity, and Fibonacci Blue used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.