WHEN-ESOTA?'s New Year's Top 10
Post date: Dec 31, 2018 4:40:27 PM
Last night’s loss to the Bears was tough to stomach. Having said that, I am going to save my comments about that game until later this week after things (Z)simmer a bit. This is a blog I started on Saturday and It fits with New Years.
I was listening to Barreiro the other day and he offered that the Drew Pearson pushoff might be the most disappointing event in the history of Minnesota sports. It was big. Most experts think that might have been the best of all those 70’s Vikings teams, even better than the four that actually played in the Superbowl. So in terms of expectations, it was absolutely disappointing. But the MOST disappointing? In the entire history of Minnesota Sports? That’s saying a lot. Regardless of whether you agree or not, it got me thinking about what event I thought was THE MOST disappointing.
People love top 10 lists this time of year. Top 10 Movies, TV shows, Songs, best and worst etc. A reflection on the year past and looking ahead at what's to come. Here at WHEN-ESOTA? our reflection spans more than one year. If we're going to do a top ten list, it can’t be about a single year. So with the inspiration from Mr. Barreiro, we decided to create our Top 10 Minnesota Sports Disappointments of all time.
Disclaimer: These events are largely personal and emotional. My #1 might not be yours, depending on where each of us were in our lives at the time, our ages, etc. Since I’ve started doing this, I’ve learned that each event effects people differently. They remember where they were and who they were with. This is my personal list, and I am going to open a few veins here. But I also want to know your thoughts, so feel free to argue with me about it and tell why I’m wrong. My criteria? How much it affected the team’s future and how it affected me emotionally.
(edit... After posting this we realized we forgot a big one. We are adding it at #11
#11. Rick Mahorn drafted by the Timberwolves in the expansion draft.
When you ask people who the first Timberwolf was, most say Pooh Richardson. But they would be incorrect. They might guess that it was Ty Corbin, who we obtained in the expansion draft a few weeks before the college draft where we picked Pooh. But that would be incorrect as well. On the same day he was celebrating an NBA finals victory and during the middle of the championship parade, Rick Mahorn was informed that he was left unprotected by the Pistons and selected by the Timberwolves as their first pick in the expansion draft (2nd overall). That was in June 1989. Later, in the fall of that year the Timberwolves held a 3 on 3 basketball tournament to promote the upcoming inaugural season. During that event, they had a game where 3 lucky winners drawn by KSTP got to play against the first 3 Timberwolves. Mahorn, Corbin and Pooh. I was one of those lucky winners. I have video of it. (My mom recorded it on VHS) Mahorn guarded me and ripped my Michael Jordan T shirt. That may have been the only Timberwolves promotional event that Mahorn ever did. After that he held out of training camp and forced a trade to Philadelphia. The point is that Mahorn leaving and not wanting to play here may have been a sign of things to come. Trying to build the franchise has never been easy, and the disappointments have been many. And it all may have started with Rick Mahorn.
#10. Gopher Football leaves campus
By the early 80’s the Gopher football program was already struggling to bring back the winning ways of the past, but in my opinion, nothing hurt the culture and tradition more than moving the games away from campus. I feel like this was a killer for student interest and increased what I call “the blue hair effect”. (I’ve been yelled at quite a few times by old ladies to sit down when its 3rd down and the gophers are on defense.) Even though the team has moved back to campus, 27 years of being away from the heart of your team is something the program still struggles with.
#9. Gopher Basketball academic scandal
Clem Haskins had just taken the gopher basketball team to the Final four for the first time ever. Then the name Gangelhoff entered our collective consciousness. For me it was like… DAMMIT! just when something finally goes right…it goes wrong.
#8. Lou Holtz leaving for Notre Dame
This was the guy who was going to right the ship. Gopher football was going to regain its past glory and once again dominate the Big Ten and Lou Holtz was going to be the guy to do it. Well, at least that’s what I thought, but I was 10. Then the Notre Dame job opened and Holtz had a clause in his contract that he could opt out if Notre Dame came calling. Simply put, Holtz dumped us for someone else. Hard to feel good about that and not take it personally.
#7. Gophers Michigan Meltdown
I was there. Front row. Behind the Michigan bench. Our seats were right where the Twins bull pen was in the dome. I was screaming at the Michigan players to “BRING OUT THE JUG”. Most remember that the gophers blew a 21 point lead. But many forget that the Gophers actually gave up 31 points that half. Abdul Khaliq had a long TD run for the gophers in the middle of it to get 7 points back. The worst part of it was Michigan ran pretty much the same play over and over. If memory serves me right it was a screen pass to Chris Perry, left, then right and repeat. I’ve criticized Mason in the past for not being focused enough on defense. His DC should have been fired after this game for incompetence. The Michigan players celebrated right in front of us. Gut punch.
#6. Wolves Joe Smith Illegal Contract
Prior to 2016, the Minnesota Timberwolves never had an overall #1 pick in the NBA draft. I’ve even heard people say the lottery is rigged. For an expansion franchise to not have a #1 overall pick in over 25 years of existence is absolutely ridiculous. Especially when many of those years the wolves were awful. In addition, the NBA drafts usually aren’t very deep. If you don’t have a top pick, odds are, the players you get aren’t going to help much. Point being here that even though the draft worked against us for all those years….losing 4 years of picks for this illegal trade was EXTREMELY hurtful for the wolves. And Kevin Mchale was named GM of the year once by Forbes. LOL.
#5. 2018 NFC championship
For as much as I was drinking the Kool Aid in 2009, I was NOT in 2018. I felt like doom was coming. We blew a huge lead against New Orleans and it almost seemed like we were letting them back in on purpose. The defense seemed to go into a prevent and Drew Brees picked us apart. When the miracle happened, my emotions were shot and I got physically ill, not kidding. I credit those of you who read that as a positive sign. I wish I could think that way. But I knew it was a bad omen…the dark cloud was coming and that was our warning. All week long, people trash talked Nick Foles and how bad his arm was, ugh…I get sick to my stomach thinking about it. I really wish local media would stop speaking of ANYTHING as a certainty when it comes to Vikings. When will we learn?
#4. 2009 NFC championship at NO
This was one of my favorite Vikings seasons ever. Mrs. WHEN-ESOTA? reminds me that I had a bit of a man crush on Brett Favre. I actually had a dream that he and I were besties and I would pick him up at the airport, but I wasn’t supposed to tell anyone because you know…fame. Anyway…this was the year. I was drinking the purple Kool-Aid. After the game… I felt CRUSHED. I felt like I had just gotten dumped by the girl of my dreams. I still haven’t been able to go back and re-watch it. It hurts too much. A lot of people want to blame Favre for losing this game. Biases and man crushes aside, we wouldn’t have been there without him that year. Remember the Greg Lewis last second TD, and how exciting that was? I feel like fumbles were more problematic that season. As a matter of fact, I think that game in NO was decided weeks earlier when we lost a week 16 game in overtime at Chicago on an Adrian Peterson Fumble in OT. Losing that game cost us home field advantage. Had the New Orleans game been in Minnesota, things may have been different.
#3. Gary Anderson’s missed FG
A lot of my friends make fun of me for being superstitious. Gary Anderson hadn’t missed a field goal all year. He was perfect. This is the first time I will admit this publicly: The week prior to the game I was joking around with friends and I said “What if he missed one is this game?” It was 20 years ago. I’m not sure why I said it. I was probably being a smart ass, trying to be funny. Even then I was a Vikings fatalist, but when he missed that kick, my phone started ringing off the hook. (it was an actual rotary telephone). I know its ridiculous, but somehow I feel that one was my fault.
#2. North Stars leaving
As I stated in the intro, these events and the order we place them in, are largely personal. And this one was extremely personal to me. Norm Green took my North Stars away. To this day I struggle to get excited about the Wild because to me, they just aren’t the North Stars. Bobby Smith, Neil Broten, Dino Ciccarelli, Plett, Mcrae, Churla. I loved going to the Met Center. I miss seeing the green yellow and white seats. Minnesota is commonly called the “State of Hockey” because hockey is more popular here than anywhere else in the country, and Norm Green took my North Stars away.
#1. Herschel Walker trade.
In terms of ramifications, and how a single event affected any Minnesota sports team’s future, I don’t know how anyone can look past this. Its still the largest player trade in the history of the NFL. Vikings General Manager Mike Lynn initially gave up 5 players and 8 draft picks (3 firsts, 3 seconds, 1 third and 1 sixth round). The Vikings got Walker, and 4 picks (2 thirds, 1 fifth and 1 tenth). Eventually Dallas got conditional picks from the Vikings as well.
I remember watching Herschel run out of his shoe in his first game and thinking …This is it!!! Superbowl here we come! I even remember where I was. I was at a bowling alley in Rosemount. (I was really into bowling, don’t ask) Jimmy Johnson claimed he had made “the great train robbery” and 3 Superbowls later he was proven right. Herschel only played here a few seasons. The Vikings only made the playoffs his first year with the team. In my mind there just isn’t any other event in our sports history that has hampered a team like this did the Vikings.
Honorable Mentions….(in no particular order)
-Kirby Puckett retiring due to loss of eyesight. Im not ashamed to admit I cried watching the press conference
-Twins releasing David Ortiz
-Snowstorm causes John Wooden to take UCLA job over Minnesota: The greatest ‘what if’ in Minnesota Sports history
-Gophers get trounced by Nebraska 84-13. Worst loss in Gopher Football history.
-Drew Pearson’s pushoff: This doesn’t make my top 10 because I was 3. Like I said, this is a personal list.
-Gopher Basketball Brawl with OSU: Violence and Mayhem at the barn. Game called off with 36 seconds left.
-Vikings Love Boat: Although silly and definitely a head scratcher, Im not sure how devastating this was to the organization. It may have even been one of the reasons the Wilfs moved on from Tice.