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.