The year was 1986. I was a student at Lester Park Elementary School, and had previously played the role of Barry Manilow in the school talent show.
Judge me accordingly, but 36 years later, that moment remains etched in my mind and still gets brought up at family gatherings.
Much to my mother’s chagrin, I can’t say Barry Manilow was very popular in the youth demographic at that time. Instead, Timbuk 3 was all the rage.
Timbuk 3 might only be a one-hit wonder, but “The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades,” certainly had its own run of popularity. When Dave Cook and I discuss future stars of athletics on “The Northland Sports Page,” you’ll often find it as our bumper music selection.
Yet, is there any truth in the song title when it comes to our Minnesota sports teams?
The easy answer is “it depends.” Are we talking five weeks, five months, or five years?
In the immediate future, the focus is on the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikes are 10-2, and can clinch the NFC North title as early as Sunday in Detroit. Barring a monumental collapse, Minnesota will find itself in the playoffs with at least one home game. Then we’ll all brace ourselves for whatever might happen in the postseason.
The Vikings are incredibly flawed, but they just keep winning. If you said the Vikings could beat anyone, I’d believe you. If you said they could lose to anyone, I’d buy that as well.
The Lions will be the first team this year’s Vikings will face for a second time. Many Minnesota wins this season have fallen under the category: “there’s no way they could pull that off again.”
We’re about to find out.
Vegas oddsmakers don’t seem to think the Vikings can win in Detroit and it seems to be driving a percentage of the fans crazy. Why should we care about that? We shouldn’t unless you have big money on the game. My budget is more on the couch cushion level.
It feels like we are obsessing over it, because we don’t know how to be happy at 10-2. Really? The point spread bothers you?
What should be bothersome, are the reasons behind the point spread. The Vikings have a defense that can’t stop a nosebleed, and an offense that goes dormant for long stretches. Yet, they tend to pull together in the final minutes and grab a win. You could see more of the same on Sunday, or they could fail in the clutch like so many Vikings teams before them.
I suggest you enjoy the season (in my Mike Tice voice) because the future is beyond uncertain.
Kirk Cousins is 34, but likely worthy of an extension. I’m sure some of you stopped reading at this point, but the Vikings don’t have the quarterback of the future on this team, nor will they have a draft position to help obtain one for next season.
Adam Thielen is 32, and another wide receiver will likely be needed. Not to mention, your best player also plays that position, and Justin Jefferson’s next contract should demand (and be given) the world.
Defensively, Harrison Smith is 33 and still amazing, but for how long? Za’Darius Smith and Eric Kendricks are both 30 with injury histories. Regardless of age, the defense continues to be the primary issue and the main force behind a lack of optimism.
Similarly, this draft class has given you almost nothing. It’s a little early to claim that this new regime “can’t draft” based on one class depleted by injury and underperformance, but it’s also impossible to believe younger reinforcements will be on the horizon.
The Vikings dramatically changed their front office but barely changed their roster from last season. They believed this group could make a run. Falling short of the Super Bowl wouldn’t be unexpected, but it would be disappointing simply because it may not be easy to be contending again. That said, of the Minnesota ownership groups, the Wilfs are the most committed to winning. Don’t count the Vikes out during any year.
The Minnesota Timberwolves enter a weekend of back-to-back games with a record of 12-12. They are the definition of a mediocre team. Even with KAT injured for a month, they have talent at several positions but are plagued with mystery.
Anthony Edwards is the best player, but who else will be with him for the long haul? D-Lo is an enigma who may not finish the season in Minnesota. Rudy Gobert is coming along despite fans already declaring the trade to be the NBA equivalent of Herschel Walker. Pump the brakes, Gobert will be fine.
What may not be fine, is the cost for Gobert. Historically, the Wolves have not drafted well at all, and in a weird turn of events, that has to become a positive. The Wolves gave many of their future draft opportunities to the Utah Jazz in the big Gobert trade anyway. For this reason, I think more major trades will have to happen. Maybe it’s D-Lo, maybe it finally is KAT, or perhaps the Wolves are comfortable with their minimal improvements.
KAT, Ant, Gobert, Jaden McDaniels, and other supporting pieces will be enough to get you in the playoffs for years to come (especially given the NBA’s expanded format). Yet, for a team once thought to be Minnesota’s closest to a title contender, I just don’t see it. They don’t shoot it well enough, they don’t defend a soul, and don’t seem to have a team identity or personality. 24 games into a new look team is too early to panic, but you have to wonder what this team does to improve itself.
As far as I know, the Minnesota Wild didn’t choose the team nickname based on their ability to be wildly inconsistent, but it certainly fits. Was it all part of a plan?
Maybe not a plan, but certainly somewhat expected. Minnesota handed the proverbial “keys to the car” to some very young players, and some growing pains had to be anticipated.
Kirill Kaprizov and Joel Eriksson Ek are 25. Matt Boldy is 21. Calen Addison is 22 and Mason Shaw is 24. Those are five of the top six-point leaders for Minnesota this season. The team is staying ahead of the game in preparation for the Parise and Suter buyouts to really hamper the budget.
The Wild need the old-man goaltender to be better. I say this delicately, realizing I’m five years older than Marc-André Fleury, but Fleury’s GAA looks more like a GPA at 3.10. A save percentage under 90 can’t be what the Wild planned on getting from “Mr. Cup Cred.”
The future of the Wild looks pretty good for now. Pretty good is what we’ve been used to from this franchise. Playoffs and then quickly disappear. I’m not sure if that will change anytime soon in either a positive or negative direction. The late Denny Green would be proud. The Minnesota Wild “are who we thought they were.” They may look exactly like that for years to come.
Then there’s the Twins. At least I think they’re still there. The Winter Meetings didn’t exactly prove that, minus one notable mention.
Carlos Correa’s agent Scott Boras did the work for me regarding the Twins future. He described how bright it should be; at least on paper.
“They have close to eight prospects that on many teams would be their number one prospect,” Boras said of Minnesota’s depth.
He then proceeded to list Austin Martin, Royce Lewis, Ryan Jeffers, Jose Miranda, Alex Kirilloff, and Brooks Lee as “elite young talent.”
Boras isn’t wrong. The Twins future could be amazing. Yet how many years have we been saying that? Health will play a key role in it already, as at least three or the names listed have had significant injuries. The other two may be years from reaching the majors. Currently, that leaves Miranda.
The Twins myriad of question marks were covered in last week’s column. As of this writing, they’ve answered zero of them. They may have actually added more questions with the rumblings of trading Luis Arraez.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m entirely guilty of being too forgiving with the Twins. In my 43 years of life, they’re the only men’s team champion I know. Perhaps I’m too lenient on all Minnesota teams.
Meatsauce said on “The Power Trip” this week that most Minnesota fans are too comfortable with mediocrity. Is he right?
A championship of some kind is on my holiday wish list. If it happens, I’ll channel my Barry Manilow again and belt out “Looks Like We Made It.”
Brian's show, 'The Northland Sports Page', can be heard Saturdays from 10 am to noon on the FAN 106.5 FM/560 AM. You can catch previous episodes on the Northland FAN On-Demand area of our website or on our mobile app.