A few weekends ago, on a Saturday evening, after enjoying another picture perfect summer day, I found myself wanting to watch an exciting sporting event. However, being stuck in the mid-summer sports lull, where baseball and WNBA were really my only options, I knew there was no hope of that. Much to my surprise, my excitement on this fine Saturday night would come in a far different form; a first time father’s initial experience with his infant daughter’s projectile vomit! It was one of those, “what in the wide world of sports is happening right now?” moments. Now everything seems to be back to normal, but at the time it was extremely scary. Once she was better and asleep in her crib, I needed some sports therapy, something to take my mind off of what had just transpired. So, after scrolling Twitter for a few minutes, I saw the Twins were leading the New York Yankees 5-4, in the bottom of the 8th. Upon flipping on the game, I was quickly reminded of why I don’t waste my time watching the Twins, at least not until September, if they happen to be in the playoff hunt. The Yankees teed off on Twins closer, Glen Perkins and their 8-5 comeback win got me thinking…what have been the most disappointing Minnesota sports moments of my lifetime? Keep in mind that I was born in 1981, so roughly twenty years of Twins and Vikings moments will miss out on making the cut.
- Timberwolves lose in first round of playoffs 7 straight seasons
You may argue the 2004 Western Conference Finals loss to the Lakers was more disappointing, but was it really? Minnesota may have been the No. 1 seed that year, but L.A. had Shaq and Kobe, who had already won three titles together. I didn’t expect the Wolves to win that series and I’m not sure many others did either. The Wolves made the playoffs in Flip Saunders and Kevin Garnett’s first seven seasons together. Their record? 7-22 and just once did they force a series deciding game; much more disappointing than losing to a pair of Hall of Famers, if you ask me.
- Twins 2-15 playoff record from 2003-2010
Much like Flip Saunders, Twins manager, Ron Gardenhire enjoyed success early on, but was never able to get over the hump. After a trip to the ALCS that saw them fall to a more complete Angels team, in Gardenhire’s first year of 2002, the Twins would reach the playoffs five more times in the following eight years. It would not be pretty. Three times they were swept and they managed just two wins overall, never pushing a series to the deciding game. Twins fans such as myself became sick and tired of pinstripes, as the New York Yankees bounced us from the playoffs four times.
- Vikings lose 2009 NFC Championship game to New Orleans
If you talk to Vikings fans who were around for the Super Bowls of the late 60s/early 70s, they’ll tell you the Super Bowl IV loss to the Kansas City Chiefs was the most painful, as Minnesota was an enormous 12 point favorite to win the game. My final three most disappointing moments somewhat follow that same logic. They are all Vikings NFC Championship game losses and each of them caused me to feel a different kind of pain. The 2009 loss to New Orleans hurt badly, mainly because the Vikings seemingly had the game in the bag. But, what helped get them there, the no-fear attitude and playing style of Brett Favre, also ultimately cost Minnesota in the end, with his across the body, across the field pass intended for Sidney Rice, which was intercepted by Tracy Porter with just thirteen ticks left on the clock. Everyone in Minnesota knows that Favre probably could have gained 5 or 6 yards had he tucked and ran the ball. That would have set the Vikings up for about a 52-yard field goal, for the lead. What ensued in overtime was a 40-yard Saints kick return, two first downs, and a 40-yard field goal to win the game. In the offseason, the NFL changed their overtime rules, preventing a team from winning the game on a first drive field goal. So, at least there’s that!
- Vikings lose 2000 NFC Championship game to New York Giants
I’ll never forget this one. Home from college, excited to sit down and watch the Vikings battle for the right to reach their first Super Bowl of my lifetime. Before I could even get comfortable, it was 14-0 Giants, just over two minutes into the game and Minnesota had absolutely no life whatsoever. Cris Carter and Randy Moss, who had combined for 10 receptions, 241 yards, and 3 TDs the previous week, were held in check, grabbing just 5 balls for 42 yards, as Minnesota mustered only 114 total yards of offense to go along with their five turnovers. The Giants owned the game from start to finish, blasting Minnesota 41-0. Given the circumstances, it was the worst effort I’ve ever seen from a Vikings team. Well, maybe that honor would go to the Josh Freeman Monday Night game against the Giants, but you can’t really count that one! Any coaching staff with half a brain would not have started him that night!
- Vikings lose 1998 NFC Championship game to Atlanta
Arms at my sides, face planted in the carpet of my parents downstairs living room, in complete and utter disbelief. This is where you could have found the 17-year old version of me for a good 10-15 minutes following the Vikings 30-27 OT loss to Atlanta, in the 1998 NFC Championship game. Maybe it hurts the most because it was the first of the three NFC Championship game losses or maybe it hurts the most because, like Super Bowl IV, the Vikings were such huge favorites in this game as well. 15-1 regular season record, the highest scoring offense in NFL history, Pro-Bowlers everywhere you looked, the home field advantage of the Metrodome. The Vikings were not supposed to lose this game and going into it, that thought never even crossed the minds of Vikings fans. Sure, Atlanta was 14-2, but we were the mighty Vikings; an unstoppable 34.8ppg, the sixth best defense in the league, destroying teams all season long, having won eight games by twenty points or more, an average margin of victory of nearly two TDs and a FG, and twenty-nine combined TDs for Carter and Moss. I mean it just wasn’t fair for the poor teams that got in our way. Bring on Elway and the Broncos! There’s no way we’re losing to a Chris Chandler led team. Chris Chandler, are you kidding me? What has that guy ever done? And how old is he? My goodness, no chance we lose at home to Chris Chandler and the Falcons…We all know how the story goes and if you don’t, just go ask anybody. It still hurts to this day. For me, this is far and away the most disappointing, most painful moment in my lifetime as a Minnesota sports fan. I don’t know about you, but I’m sick to my stomach right now!