National / Sports / October 7, 2009

A tale of two Minnesotas

Ah, the North Star State. The land of Al Franken, Bob Dylan, Paul Wellstone and Paul Bunyan, The Coen Brothers, Garrison Keillor, etc. A truly beautiful, enlightened, healthy, diverse and clean (for America) state. 

For myself, Minnesota is currently a place of contradiction. Late Tuesday evening and into Wednesday morning (Greenwich Mean Time, mind you), I incessantly refreshed the page on my web browser, hastily following the trials and tribulations of the one-game playoff between the Minnesota Twins and the Detroit Tigers.

As some or most of you may know, the Twins defeated the Tigers in a wild and crazy 12-inning affair — a game that, while great, comes nowhere near last year’s American League Central game 163 between the aforementioned Twins and my beloved Chicago White Sox. 

Gratuitous and shameless memory lane traveling now behind us, I should mention that I rooted for the Twins instead of the Tigers. Why? Because they’re just so underwhelming, and they continue to win.

Other than Joe Mauer — the undisputed third best player in baseball —and the criminally-overrated-but-still-serviceable-enough Justin Morneau, the Twins really aren’t very talented.

According to the defensive statistic UZR, their defense is in the bottom five of all of baseball; their patchwork infield against the Tigers featured Nick Punto and Matt Tolbert; their wagon is hitched, for some disturbing reason, to Delmon Young, he of the .307 OBP and Abreu-esque defense. And yet they won 86 games and now are a short series victory away from playing for the American League. How can you not root for that?

I suppose it helps that the Tigers let Miguel Cabrera play Tuesday night, despite the poor performance he put on Friday night, which culminated in police arriving at his home after he and his wife got into a physical confrontation. His blood alcohol was also three times the legal limit. So yeah, easy decision: go Twins. 

But the column isn’t just about the Twins and their miraculous turnaround from mediocre to a little bit better than mediocre; this is also about what occurred Monday night at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. Brett Favre and his Minnesota Vikings beat my Green Bay Packers 30-23. 

Favre was the good version of himself, the version that doesn’t throw multiple interceptions and tries to manage the game rather than pull his good ol’ Bayou boy “let me throw this ball eighty yards and hope you catch it” routine. I don’t think I’ve felt so ill about a sporting event since Allan Ray’s eyeball popped out of his head (maybe I’m the only one that remembers it, but dear lord, don’t look it up if you want to avoid queasiness). 

Favre is, I think inarguably, a complete jackass, and there’s really no need dedicating valuable space to such an accepted fact. Plus the Vikings have the Williams brothers, whose (lack of) punishment for their PED use is baffling. 

But I think this is a common contradiction. Same building, probably the same fans, same state, just different franchises, and my sympathies could not possibly be any more diametrically opposed.

If you ask someone from, say, Dallas what they think of the Penguins or the Steelers, they’ll probably tell you that Roethlisberger is terribly overrated and Sidney Crosby whines a lot; conversely, if you ask them what they think of the Pirates, they’ll make the same sorrowful and empathetic face one makes when passing an orphanage, or a dog shelter, or a Buffalo Wild Wings.

I won’t stop here. I want the Twins in the World Series, and I want the Vikings to finish 4-12. Then again, I can see the Twins using Favre at third base against the Yankees, and if so, I’m burning down the Metrodome.

Kevin Morris

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