Hopes are high for Timberwolves [UPDATED]Published 4:02am Monday, November 4, 2013 Updated 6:12am Monday, November 4, 2013
As the Timberwolves opened the season Wednesday with stars Ricky Rubio, Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic healthy, the addition of established players Kevin Martin and Corey Brewer to the starting lineup, and a bench fully stocked with wily veterans and athletic rookies, my enthusiasm is at an all-time high.
After experiencing the last six months of losing baseball and football, I do not just want the Timberwolves to be good. I, and the rest of the Minnesota sports fan base, need them to be good.
I think I would be in denial if I said the ineptitude of the Twins and Vikings has not affected me. I’d like to think I was above it. I’m my own person, after all, and I don’t need to have a bunch of overpaid, arrogant athletes win some games to be happy. I can make my own happiness.
For the most part, that’s true. My family, my work, my social life and my health are all far more important to me than whether my favorite professional sports teams are playing well.
There’s also the fact that, because the Twins and Vikings stink, I no longer feel compelled to watch them play, freeing up many hours to do other activities — spending time with my daughter, raking the yard, going for a run — that are clearly better for me than watching a stupid game.
Yet, who are we kidding? No matter how much it shouldn’t be this way, life is better, even if it is just microns better, when your favorite sports teams are winners. It’s just more fun to imagine the possibilities of, say, young and talented Timberwolves basketball and Wild hockey teams than untalented, in-the-tank Twins and Vikings teams.
For me, having winning teams to think about gives me something to wrap around besides the everyday grind of, for example, work issues. But when the Twins and Vikings are essentially guaranteed not to make the playoffs with 75 percent of the season remaining, there’s nothing left to wrap my brain around.
As my family heads to New England this weekend for a vacation (part of my bid to hit all 50 states) it will be interesting to be in a city where the baseball team just won the World Series.
Boston, in fact, is the only metro area in the U.S. to win championships in the big four of professional sports in the 21st century — baseball (Red Sox, 2004, 2007, 2013) hockey (Bruins, 2011), basketball (Celtics, 2008) and football (New England Patriots, 2001, 2003, 2004).
Eight world championships in 13 years in Boston — it’s not even fair. That doesn’t even count the numerous years when their teams played in the championship game or were playoff contenders.
To New Englanders, finding a winning pro team to root for is sort of like Otter Tail County residents finding a lake on which to fish.
I just heard a report that Minneapolis is among the best sports towns in the U.S., based on fan attendance, sports radio listeners, memorabilia revenue, etc. Clearly, there are plenty of sports fans among us. We just don’t have enough to cheer for.
Yes, the Lynx women’s basketball team won a world championship. I watched all the playoff games. Yes, the North Dakota State football team and several Minnesota- and North Dakota-based college hockey teams will contend for the national title this year.
If someone wants to argue with me that those championships somehow compare to, say, the Twins’ World Series championships in 1987 and 1991, go ahead. I dare you.
I was around for both those championships. Both were quite amazing experiences.
The fact that someone could technically be a college graduate and yet not been born when those championships took place is, well, sad.
Despite all the promise, the best the Timberwolves are likely to do this year would be to finish as the fifth or sixth best team in the NBA, and make a valiant fight before losing in
the playoffs to one of the elite teams.
And yet, I DVRed the Timberwolves’ opening night of an 82-game season, and have been catching glimpses of it throughout the week.
It shows what losing does to a person.
Joel Myhre is The Journal’s publisher. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org