Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I Don't Know What To Do With My Hands: In Praise of These Gophers and Their Hot Start



Rodney Williams finishing a 360-degree dunk into what is probably the correct hoop.

The Minnesota Golden Gophers men's basketball squads have a recent history of hot starts in the non-conference portion of their schedules during Tubby Smith's tenure as coach. Last year's team started 12-1 but could only muster an NIT berth after a 6-12 Big Ten campaign. The 2010-11 squad also romped through their early season schedule, going 11-1 with wins over North Carolina and West Virginia, but Al Nolen's broken foot derailed that team's chance at postseason success. Also, let's not forget the 16-1 start to the 2008-09 season that included a neutral-court win over 9th-ranked Louisville but ended in a 1st round thud in the NCAA Tournament at the hands of A.J. Abrams and Dexter Pittman.



Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Homecoming: An Overdue Visit to the Minnesota Hall of Athlete Aggression (MelAnChoLy in Minnesota Part III)

Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Daily.


(Click HERE for Part I: Ligaments)

(Click HERE for Part II: Concussions)

Waseca, Minnesota, used to be the home of a two-year agriculture-heavy university, a branch of the University of Minnesota system. The school's mascot was the Ram, and one of my best friend's dads used to be the starting center on their basketball team. I was a graduate of the complex's preschool in 1990, two years before it was shut down. It's sort of embarrassing to have the most prestigious institution of higher learning in your hometown be turned into a prison to save $6 million out of what was a $1.6 billion university system budget. As a die-hard Minnesota sports fan, it's just as embarrassing to also have a wing of that former school/current prison in your hometown house the Minnesota Hall of Athlete Aggression, commissioned in 2009 and opened just a few months ago.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Reverse Psychology: The Vikings' Disappointing 3-1 Start



Adrian Peterson, during what were happier times for all of us. New Year's 2012.

It seems like every time a Minnesota team has gotten a little momentum going in the early season the past few years, a litany of articles spreading positive vibes and dissecting why THIS YEAR'S DIFFERENT! rain down on us from the local and, occasionally, national media. Like this article about last year's Wild written just before their slight post-December downturn. Or this little nugget about the Timberwolves from the Sporting News written last February 28th. Ten days later, Ricky Rubio had one functional ACL. Not to mention this jerk proclaiming the Gophers were back not eight days ago. So I'm going to try something here: A modified approach to a modicum of success.

Stagnant offense, porous defense, sieve-like special teams. For the third consecutive season, the Vikings are disappointing fans throughout the state. After posting nine wins combined in their last two seasons, the Purple Ones have won just three of their first four games in 2012. The failures of the front office and coaching staff have been on full display every week so far, and I intend to point out these numerous misgivings in order to do my small part to get this bunch of losers swept out of here so we can finally field a winning team by the time the Zygi Dome opens around 2016.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Interstate to the Insight Bowl: The Gophers' Hot Start and a Conference Preview



Donnell Kirkwood (#20 in the air) has 373 yards rushing and 3 TDs through 4 games.


The 2012 Gophers football team has already eclipsed the 2011 team's win total, and they haven't even started the Big Ten portion of their schedule yet. With Saturday's slobberknocker 17-10 victory over Syracuse--their first BCS school opponent on the year--in front of a raucous sell-out crowd at TCF Bank Stadium, the Gophers put themselves within two wins of clinching bowl eligibility. And the calender hasn't even turned to October yet.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Into the Omaha Sunset: A Farewell to Andy Roddick




"It's been a pleasure. It's not something that's easy every day, for sure, especially when you kind of get anointed at a young age....For the moments where it's been hard, I've had 25 positive things that have come from it." --Andy Roddick on being the face of American tennis for the past decade

He lunged after a smartly placed short ball, smacked his reply a few feet beyond the baseline, and it was over. Andy Roddick's career ended in the 4th round of this year's U.S. Open after a hard-fought 4-set loss to the tall (and quite gracious in victory, given the moment) Argentine with the whip-crack forehand, Juan Martin Del Potro.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Minnesota Vikings Season Opener: A Recap

Genevieve Ross/ Associated Press

Sundays are back, baby! Woo! Our Minnesota Vikings kicked off the 2012 NFL regular season against the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday. It’s not often that the opening game of the season is a must win, but in this case, it was a must win. The Jags are a much worse team than us on paper, but they haven’t played games on paper since the infamous 1966 Paper Bowl, captured by the Kansas City Chiefs. If the Vikes were to make any progress this year after a disastrous 2011 campaign, they had to start with a win against the Jags. Week 1 also represented the potential return (resurrection?) of Purple Jesus himself, Adrian Peterson. His recovery after tearing everything in his knee last December has been nothing short of, well, miraculous. Would his ascension to the end zone be complete? Would he return to lead the Vikings to football heaven? Find out the answers to these questions, as well as more blasphemy, after the jump.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

2012 Fo Flo Fantasy League: Draft Recap

Photo courtesy of Bleacher Report.


Come for the expanded half-hour inaugural edition of Fo Flo Video's Down and Dirty Draft Recap, stay for the 400 or so words I write below said video.



Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Hometown Hero Potential: Minnesotans in the Olympics

Kelci Bryant (L), Minnesota's first London medalist

It's currently about 4 am in London, which means that Day 5 of the XXX Summer Olympiad (brought to you by IBM, Chevrolet, and the fine folks at Rick's Cabaret) has wrapped up. The Games are now about 29.4 percent complete, which seems like a natural (?) point at which to meet and greet the Olympians with ties to Minnesota; call this your super-abridged cheering guide if you want. I wanted to get this out about a week ago, and then Silky came along with that great Wolves off-season recap and the ol' lazy summer dog days mentality kicked in. And here we are, with you, our loyal readers, ready to peruse a list of "people to watch," and you can't even watch some of them anymore, as their events have already handed out all their medals.

It's this kind of dogged determination to get the story out with unparalleled timeliness that makes us the 13th or 14th best sports blog in Minnesota.

Anyway, root for these folks.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Offseason Report: Timbas Edition

KLove has gone on record saying the Timbas need to improve significantly. Lets see if Kahn and Co. were listening.

I’ve wanted to do one of these for a while now, but the timing was never right (as we found out before). So, I waited. I waited for free agency to start. I waited for the Nicolas Batum saga to come to a close. I was ready to do a write up, but the signings kept coming in. It wasn’t until these last 24 hours when I felt comfortable enough to declare the Timbas’ offseason complete and, more importantly, a resounding success.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Week in Review: Heat Wave Edition




"Hot enough for ya?" is the kind of thing annoying people say when they want to get punched in the face. Yes, Ned, it was hot enough for most of America last week; more than 3,800 record highs were recorded across the country as temperatures soared and sizzled in the 90s and 100s across much of the nation. In considering how our local sports teams have resembled this heat wave over the past week, we must remember and assign value to the good things associated with high temps (Kiddie pools! Free sidewalk grilling!) with the less good things (Drought! Excessive heat warnings!) To the recaps:

Monday, July 9, 2012

Roger Federer Can Suck It: A Wimbledon 2012 Recap



I was just starting my junior year of high school in early September 2003 as Andy Roddick won that year's U.S. Open. The fiery, often hilarious Roddick took the title in a year where old bull Andre Agassi came into the tournament as the number one seed. The 21-year-old Roddick took out the three-seed, Juan Carlos Ferrero, in straight sets in the final, taking over the crown of Open champ from Pete Sampras, whose 2002 triumph constituted the last match of his illustrious career. I was a fervent young American tennis fan, schooled on Sampras' serve-and-volley and Agassi's unmatched service return game. I watched that tournament excitedly as one generation of American tennis stars dissipated and the new vanguard--led by Roddick, but also including James Blake, Mardy Fish, Taylor Dent and Robby Ginepri--looked poised to secure several spots among the top of the tennis world rankings.

And then, four months later, Roger Federer just started winning everything.

Friday, June 29, 2012

The End of Clippergeddon

Rather than lead with a picture of Marko Jaric's beady eyes, or of Sam Cassell's alien head, I decided to go with a pic of Marko Jaric's better half, aka Adriana Lima. Helloooo pageviews :)

One summer day in August, 2005, the Minnesota Timberwolves traded Sam Cassell and a conditional first round draft pick to the LA Clippers for Marko Jaric and Lionel Chalmers. For seven years Timbas fans have dreaded Clippergeddon, the year we would finally have to give up that pick. This year was the year. The conditional draft pick has turned into the 10th pick of the 2012 NBA Draft, and belongs to the New Orleans Hornets following the Chris Paul trade. With that pick, the Hornets selected Austin Rivers, son of Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers. Doc Rivers and the Celtics won the NBA Championship in 2008. And who should be on that roster in 2008 for one last championship run before retirement? None other than Sam Cassell.

There's some good storytellers out there in the world. Who among them could make up something like that?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

NBA Draft: Timing is Everything...

David Kahn can't Kahntain his smile anymore after pulling a fast one on SilkyJ

KAAAAAAHHHHHHHNNNNN!!!!!! Ok, I just needed to get that out of my system. Not even 12 hours after writing and posting a draft preview article, David Kahn goes and trades the 18th pick to the Rockets for Chase Budinger and Lior Eliyahu (more like Eliya-who, amirite?). And if I know anything, it’s that this whole pre-draft trade situation is going to get even more Kahnvoluted. Stay tuned below the fold where I take a look at Budinger and try, futilely, to predict what Kahn will do next.

Monday, June 25, 2012

NBA Draft 2012: The Wrath of Kahn

POBO David Kahn stifles a smile as he thinks of those about to suffer his wrath


With the NBA Finals finally finished, it’s time to move on to every Minnesota fan’s favorite part of the season: the offseason. Our beloved Timbas come into this offseason seemingly one piece away from being a playoff team.  Below the jump, we take a look at where this piece will fit it, why the position is such a glaring need, and who (if any) in the draft will be able to come in and address the issue.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Tuesday Mus-Day (On Thursday): Bruff's Summer Playlist, Part I


Craig Finn of the Hold Steady. Huge Twins fan.

June of 2009 was a time of gorgeous weather and great expectations. I had just graduated from Gustavus Adolphus (along with fellow contributors Tony and SilkyJ), I was all set to start a Masters program at the University of Minnesota in the fall, and I aced an interview for a summer position at a market research company in the meantime. To celebrate, I went shopping for some work clothes and put together two 15-song playlists that amplified my optimistic mood and just screamed "summertime" out of every track.

Monday, June 18, 2012

A Journey of Mullets and Jorts: An Afternoon at the Indy 500


Ron and Joel in their Indy 500 attire. Sadly, I lost my camera at the track, and this is the sole surviving picture from the trip.

More than 400,000 people can attend a race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It's the largest sports stadium in the world. On May 26, two friends and I joined the 300,000-plus fans in attendance and the 100,000-plus partiers in the infield of the track at the 96th running of the great American race. Roughly half of those folks--including the three of us--wore jorts.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Silky on Soccer and Real-Time Fandom

Alessandro Del Piero waves to the fans after his last home game in the black and white stripes.
 
May has been an incredible month for soccer. The seasons of the major leagues around Europe have concluded. Each country’s respective Cup competition has been decided. The Champions League final has come and gone. This past month has been great not just for fans of particular teams, but for fans of the beautiful game as a whole. Below the jump, I’ll recount some of the major happenings in the footballing world, and examine how my loyalties as a fan shifted during the course of some of these matches.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Week in Review: Preakness Stakes Edition




As we amble into the long summer months, the nights containing multiple Minnesota sports contests have dwindled to near nil due to the ineptitude of our winter franchises. A night with no Twins game and no Lynx contest, then, seemed like the perfect period for reflection on recent exploits of the field and court. Our barometer this week involves the equines who made the 137th Preakness Stakes the most thrilling two minutes of the weekend. Annnnnd they're off...

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Did I Miss Anything? A Retrospective: Red Sox 11, Twins 2




I'm really glad that my friend Silky had such a great time at the Twins-Angels game last week. He got to see a Twins victory, which must have been a lot of fun. I dunderheadedly decided that this would be the season I would become (part of) a (group of friends who went in on a 20-game pack and, subsequently and fractionally became a) Twins season ticket holder. What great luck. In honor of the Twins second 2-game winning streak of the year (Tigers SUCK!), here is a retrospective of the events that took place around Target Field while my dad and I sort of paid attention to a Twins blowout loss on April 24.

Friday, May 11, 2012

I Was There: Twins Win!

Twins win! as you may or may not be able to tell from the crummy cell-phone pic.
The Twins took on the California Angels of Los Angeles via Anaheim™ Tuesday night, and our good friend n00b was kind enough to offer me a ticket to the game. I couldn’t refuse n00b’s generosity, but my hopes were low, as the forecast called for rain, and the Twins’ play of late has been...less than stellar. Let’s just say that, on both accounts, I was pleasantly surprised.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

NFL Draft Recap 2012: The MSE Vikings' Draft Grades



Coming into this draft as a 3-13 team, we had a lot of holes to fill, which was a given (and, coincidentally, what she said). But Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman crafted a masterful first day of the draft to remedy two of our largest problem spots. Below the jump, you’ll find the individual grades and commentary from each of your three humble correspondents as we recap and relive all the twists and turns of the Vikings’ 2012 draft.

Friday, April 27, 2012

NFL Draft 2012: The Late Round Additions Edition


It was certainly an eventful first day for the Vikings. They moved down one spot and still got their guy, Matt Kalil, OT, Southern California. Then, they drafted Harrison Smith, S, Notre Dame, the exact guy that I would have been writing about in this article had we not traded back into the first round to go get him. They’ve got a whole slew of picks left in the later rounds, so let’s take a look at some of the players Spielman and Co. will be targeting.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

NFL Draft 2012 Preview: Mr. Positivity



It’s draft time, and for those who bleed purple, tonight should make for a very interesting evening. With the third pick, there are two and a half prospects targeted by the Vikings, led by Matt Kalil and Morris Claiborne. The third guy, Justin Blackmon, is a long shot for the Vikings this high in the draft. Kalil and Claiborne have been discussed by Spencer and Silky, so let’s focus on the TRUE optimism regarding the first round of the 2012 NFL draft for your Vikings. And no, it’s not Blackmon...

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

NFL Draft 2012 Preview: Kal-eels Like the Very First Time


As the great baseball Hall of Famer and football enthusiast (?) Yogi Berra once said, "It's deja vu all over again."

On Draft Day 2009, I howled for the Vikings to take Ole Miss LT Michael Oher when he slid down the board to us at the 22nd pick. Dreams of an immovable bookend duo that could relocate more flurries than Mr. Plow danced in my head for about 12 minutes...until the Triangle of Authority pegged skill position guy Percy Harvin as the pick.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

NFL Draft 2012 Preview: Please, sir, I want some Mo’




If that line weren’t enough to make you want the Vikings to draft Morris ‘Mo’ Claiborne, I’ve got a few more reasons here that will help you change your mind.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Just How Right Are the Prices: The Week in Review




Much like the yodeler from Cliff Hangers who makes his way up the mountain, hoping not to crash at the apex of his ascent, it's been a week of high hopes and dramatic tumbles for your local squads.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Headache in Aitkin: Stumbling Upon the Minnesota Concussion Memorial (MelAnChoLy in Minnesota: Part II)



The journey home from Virginia was a somber one. Recent Ligament Induction Panel meetings have been long and taxing, and this one was no different. The weary cynicism was written on our faces as we stared out the rain-soaked car windows in silence. We were passing through Aitkin, one of the many beautiful small towns on the road up to the Iron Range, when a cacophony of bells broke our silence.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Mr. Positivity: Wolves Optimism on "Playoff Elimination Day" *UPDATED 4/23*




Feeling down about the Timberwolves recent elimination from playoff contention? Maybe 2-4 isn’t the start you were hoping for from the Twins? Perhaps a 3-13 Vikings season is still adversely affecting your mood. Look no further than MNSportsEmporium.com, as I plan to bring bi-weekly optimism to Minnesota sports fans.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

MelAnChoLy in Minnesota: A Stroll Through the Ligament Graveyard

O I say these are not the parts and poems of the body only, but of the soul,
O I say now these are the soul!

--Walt Whitman, "I Sing the Body Electric"



The drive to Virginia, Minnesota, takes about three and a half hours from my home in the southwest suburbs of Minneapolis. Tony, Silky, and I made the trip Wednesday afternoon with solemn business on our minds. We are three of the youngest members of the Ligament Induction Panel, and the news had just come through the wire that Twins pitcher Scott Baker would miss the 2012 season to fix and rehab the flexor pronator tendon in his pitching elbow.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Monday, April 9, 2012

A Premature Postseason Roster Review: The Michael Beasley Dilemma



Aptly referred to as “The Illustrated Man” by MSE website creator, Spencer Broughten, Michael Beasley has a colorful personality, a sculptor’s touch with the basketball, and enough tattoos to presumably warrant “random” screenings from the TSA before team flights. He is known as an underperforming high draft pick who can score in bunches, but doesn’t have the mind for greatness. He is also known for incurring several drug charges, including a possession of marijuana ticket he received in Minnetonka last summer. Beasley is set to be a restricted free agent following this season and would be due $8.3 million should the team choose to offer him one more year. Herein lies the dilemma: Based on his statistics, he is not worth $8.3 million to the Timberwolves. However, there is a side to Beas that many people are not familiar with, and it is one of several reasons the Timberwolves should resign him this offseason.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

I Don't Know Golf, But I Take Requests: SilkyJ's Saturday Masters 'Preview'


Disclaimer: I don’t golf. I never have. If I ever do, I will require a 200 handicap. I am very bad. The extent of my golf experience? Putt-putt at Valleyfair. I was bored and no one wanted to hang out with me during our 10th grade field trip, so I went and played 3 rounds of Valleyfair putt-putt by myself. Very, very poor scores. Double bogey golf, as an aficionado might say. Damn windmill.

Unlike the Gopher hockey article, which started with a similar disclaimer, I have watched golf before. I am familiar with the practice and rote memorization (and luck) necessary for a successful round of golf. I’ve never done it myself, but having witnessed practice rounds at Hazeltine in person, I see the pressure inherent in preparing for such a tournament.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Your 2012 Minnesota Twins Season Preview: A Rational Roundtable Discussion




Tony Davis: 75/1.
“Moneyball,” the recent Academy Award nominee for “Best Picture,” taught viewers one golden rule regarding baseball: Statistics matter. It is possible for teams to base projections off of numbers and mathematical equations. Batting average, OBP, ERA, WHIP, and hundreds of other statistical categories define the game of baseball in the modern era. For the sake of this season preview, let’s focus on one ratio. 75/1. These are the current odds for the Minnesota Twins to win the World Series in 2012. 

Return to Normalcy: A Gopher Hockey Analysis & Frozen Four Preview




Freshman Kyle Rau (18 goals, 25 assists) and sophomore Nick Bjugstad (25 G, 17 A) are two of the top reasons the Gophers have re-emerged this season from a brief spell of mediocrity.
Disclaimer: I know very little about hockey. I know even less about Minnesota Golden Gopher Hockey. The highest level hockey game I have ever attended was the MIAC championships at Gustavus Adolphus. My only connection to Gopher hockey comes from that one time I hung out with former center Patrick White at college. So keep this in mind as we delve, together, into some relatively new (for me) territory of Minnesota fandom.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Do This, Not That: Bracket Crafting Tips from This Year's NCAA Tourney



March Madness has been the best 19 days of the year each of the past 21 years. It will continue to hold this distinction until a Minnesota team either A) wins a thrilling, historic championship in Game 7 of a taut back-and-forth series, or B) the Vikings win a Super Bowl and every bar and restaurant in the state celebrates with the first ever Free Beer February in American history. To properly celebrate this event, I spend the time between Selection Sunday and the first Thursday tip-off compiling and crunching dozens of stats for each team in the field--except the 16-seeds, a strategy that almost backfired this year. SYRACUSE.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Game of the Week Breakdown: A Timbas-Celtics ‘Recap’

Bruff, TWick and I watched the first half of the Timbas-Celtics game last night,hoping to see our beloved Pups come out with some fire and energy after KG’s absurd comments about the Timberwolves franchise. We were hoping to see a youngteam on the rise (everybody’s talking about them, including…Pegasus?) takedown the aging superpower, a shell of its former championship-caliber squad.
We didn’t see any of that.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Did I Miss Anything? Gophers-Stanford NIT Championship

In which your narrator turns off a Minnesota sports contest in disgust, purporting to know enough about the team and its players to fill in a rough sketch of what probably happened during the rest of the game.



The situation: Stanford led 44-28 with 13+ minutes left in the game.
The catalyst: Andre Hollins bricks one 3-pointer, then air balls another in a 3-second span.
My roommate, Tony, farted, then said, "Excuse me, I just Gophered." I asked if we could watch something else.

Da Goofers: An Introduction to Silky J

Before I get started here, I’d like to take a second to allow myself to introduce… myself (Austin Powers joke at the very beginning… not a good start). My name’s Erik, but I’m known as Silky J around these parts. I’ll be contributing things on here from time to time, hopefully with a voice and perspective distinct from Bruff’s. I will often defer to him because he’s not only more knowledgeable and more passionate than I am (Which is saying a lot; I’m neither stupid nor apathetic.) but he’s also much more eloquent with the written word than I am. (Editor’s Note: Full Disclosure--I paid Silky $16,535.00 to say that.) All that said, I’m sure I’ll find my niche, and I’ll end up contributing posts that are as rewarding for you to read as they are for me to write.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Fiscal Year of Our Discontent: Article 1

Combined Win-Loss Records, March 31, 2011-March 29, 2012

Minnesota Gophers (BKB) 23-14 (.590)

Minnesota Gophers (FB) 3-9 (.250)

Minnesota Timberwolves 25-35 (.417)

Minnesota Twins 63-99 (.389)

Minnesota Vikings 3-13 (.188)

Minnesota Wild 34-38-10 (.415)

Combined: 151-218 (.409)

FY 2012 has largely been an unkind one for Minnesota sports fans. Losses mounted quickly as quarterbacks were battered, shootouts were squandered in embarrassing fashion, and all kinds of collateral ligaments were torn asunder. Our most successful team percentage-wise--Gophers' basketball--possessed zero players who wanted to even attempt a shot in a late-game, high-pressure situation against Michigan State one month ago. The past year has been so bad for our big-time sports teams that you could make a compelling argument that the best Minnesota athlete of the past year was actually the guy who finished 2011 as the top-ranked American tennis player in the world: Mardy Fish. And he's only a Minnesotan inasmuch as he learned to burp and crawl and use a potty here before his family moved to Florida when he was four years old.

Whether it's warranted or not, Minnesota fans have a reputation for loudly applauding our occasional flashes of brilliance and largely condoning the long periods of subsequent mediocrity. We break audience decibel-level records when we make the World Series, but mostly, we hope that our general managers know what they're doing when they bring in the Mike Lambs and Kim Johnssons of the sports world to fix our teams' glaring holes. And as the win-loss records show, the past 12 to 18 months in particular have been a special kind of emotional beat-down for the followers of the most prominent local squads.

Now, there have been signs of life with certain squads lately. The Wolves have again become a hot ticket with their exciting brand of play this season, and both big-money Gophers squads (with the promising late-season look of Jerry Kill's squad and a dangerous Hollins-Mbakwe duo on the 2012-13 horizon) look as though they might finally be heading in an upward trajectory. But it seems for every Kevin Love 40-point outing we've celebrated, there has been, say, a Zack Bowman signing that makes Vikings fans wonder if our front office remembers what a competent football player looks like and threatens to drag the whole fan base a little deeper into the dredges.

What I (and several of my friends, who will occasionally contribute as writers and editors) hope to do through this site is analyze, criticize, yell and scream, stomp and cheer, and generally translate Minnesota fandom into the written word. You can expect to check us out a couple times a week for new content here in our infancy. I'm especially excited to try out a few original types of blog posts, including installments of the "21 Years..." series, in which we count down various lists of the top 21 athletes, events, and...I don't know, local beers that have helped define and shape life as a Minnesota sports fan in the time since our last major professional or collegiate title. You can also expect to find Game of the Week breakdowns; commentaries and columns; occasional tangents into topics like local music, un-American football, and video games; and a live blog or two, once I figure out how to work this here Internet device.

We're Minnesota. We're the fan base that knows more about the symptoms and ramifications of bilateral leg weakness than any other in the country. We're the state whose catered food is apparently so bad, it can serve as the catalyst for the messy departure of a beloved Hall of Fame-caliber athlete. We're the people who ask to be circled by a Dutchman who loves his flatulence, and we hold up signs at our one championship-caliber team's playoff games that say "At Least We Got Da Lynx."

Sometimes fatalistic, often irrational, occasionally analytical, always entertaining. The qualities of the fans I have met while rooting for the teams of this state are the ones that I hope come through most evidently on this website. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go celebrate a nail-biter of a Timberwolves victory over the cellar-dwelling Bobcats by muttering complaints about Anthony Tolliver into a Soco Seven.

**Special thanks right off the bat goes out to Tim Lien for putting all the balls on a rack, just how I wanted them, in the header design.