Minnesota sports fans should be thankful

Published 12:08 am Thursday, November 27, 2008

It’s that time of year when you look around and realize that we should give thanks. If your health is reasonable, someone loves you, you have enough to eat and a warm place to sleep, what’s there to kick about?

If you’re a Minnesota sports fan, things are pretty much the same this Thanksgiving. The Twins have contended — thanks, the Gophers’ basketball and football teams are building for the future — thanks, and our pro basketball team is lousy. Oh well.

Minnesota sports fans are amazed and some are thankful that two new stadiums are going up. It’s surprising, because if it was put to a vote, it wouldn’t be happening. However the citizens weren’t asked and there will be a U of M football stadium next year and a Twins ballpark in 2010.

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Stadiums must lead a charmed life. Certainly their timing is good. If they were being proposed today there is no question that during these tough times they would have been turned down.

The economy will probably recover just in time for the Vikings next stadium proposal. In not too long of a time the Vikings will introduce a bill in the legislature for their handout, as their Metrodome lease expires in 2011. I don’t think that the Vikings will insist that the stadium be built by that time, or they will leave, only that it be approved so that plans can be started for Zigi’s billion dollar edifice. Actually I’m not upset about it. It might fit right in with Obama’s suggested road, bridge, etc. infrastructure program. We can always use some federal money.

It has always surprised me that Carl Pohlad didn’t kick in and provide additional bucks for a roof for the Twins’ new stadium. He would have gotten it back in short order as the value of the franchise would have increased. He didn’t, but Carl must know what he is doing — you notice that his bank group, Wells Fargo, isn’t asking for a government bailout.

Both the Twins and the Gophers should be thankful their stadiums are underway and are almost a done deal. I imagine it will help Gophers coach Tim Brewster’s recruiting now that he can point to the project and tell recruits that they will be playing there next year. They just have to look at the Iowa game to know that there will be a place for them on the team.

I’m not too disappointed by the whipping Iowa gave the Gophers. I thought our team, thin to begin with, just got worn down by the long season. Motivation, Willie VanDeSteeg, Adam Weber and Eric Decker can just take you so far. I’m not sure I’m ready to call the Gopher season a success, although they are probably going to a bowl game. However, you certainly can say that it was an improvement over last year. I think Brewster needs another recruiting class.

Tubby Smith’s basketball team is undefeated as I write this, and like the Gophers football team, appears to have a bright future. Things look good for the whole spectrum of U of M athletics.

Our Minnesota Twins darn near made the playoffs during a rebuilding year and have the second youngest team in the majors. If that doesn’t bode well for the future, I don’t know what does.

Our other two pro franchises are not as encouraging. There is hope for the Vikings. But the Timberwolves are a different story. I hate to end on a downer, but our Timberwolves were bad last year and they are bad this year. Kevin McHale has finally been able to copy his Boston Celtics. He now has two slow white starting forwards that can’t jump. Only without his low post moves and Larry Bird’s passing and shooting ability. Perhaps we should give thanks that McHale gave Kevin Garnet a chance to get a championship ring before it was too late.