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Sports Authority

Kramer: Not so Minnesota nice, eh?

| Wednesday, February 5, 2020

A few months ago, I tightened my grip on the TV remote and cursed the New York Yankees. After a series sweep over my beloved Minnesota Twins, their black pinstripes quickly disappeared amidst a sea of locker room champagne. Sinatra’s dreaded “New York, New York” flooded my ears. I stormed away from the post-game show, a celebration of the Yankees’ tenth consecutive win over the Twins in October, and jokingly gave my parting shot to the living room:

“No one deserves this cruelty.”

Since 1991, fans across the Twin Cities have suffered from this cruel and unusual illness, commonly known as championship drought. The epidemic, now the largest playoff dry spell across all four major sports, feeds off of false hope, one that countless Minnesotans develop when the Twins, Wild, Timberwolves or Vikings secure a playoff bid. The world’s most prestigious doctors have failed to uncover a cure, but desperate victims resort to the placebo effect caused by their constant encouragement that next year will be their year.

Serious symptoms include clinical frustration, damage to television screens and severed relationships along Twin-Yankee lines.

But in order to maintain the persona of “Minnesota nice” to outsiders, locals like me keep this disease contained by channeling our anger into the innocent, unsuspecting matchups of our semi-professional and non-professional teams.

Just kidding.

While Minnesota merits no greater title than the Land of 10,000 Losses, I rarely see frustration like mine after this year’s Twins-Yankees playoff series at local sports venues. Needless to say, outbursts can and do happen, even when “Minnesota nice” abounds. So, in honor of Minnesota’s long playoff drought, I present three of the most egregious, creative, and downright absurd cases of disrespect that I’ve seen in the State of Nice:

#3. Minnesota high school hockey breeds brutally physical matchups between Minneapolis and St. Paul suburbs. On one such occasion, my high school team traveled across the Mississippi River for a border battle just outside the state capital. Within seconds of the puck drop, a hometown hero obliterated one of our players at full speed in open ice. The illegal hit forced our top skater out of the game, and the home crowd roared. One woman, clearly the kid’s mother, pointed at our fan section and yelled, “Now that’s how we play on our side of the tracks!”

#2. During a semi-professional game south of the Twin Cities, I walked back to my bleacher seat adjacent to the visitors’ dugout. The home fans, wallowing in a 10-run deficit, began to trash-talk the incoming pitchers. Standing at 6’1” and 130 pounds, their next target looked unusually skinny. One especially loud fan leaned over the bleachers and shouted, “Hey, buddy, you can go home now! Your Make-A-Wish day is over.”

#1. Back to hockey. In 2018, my team ventured north for a non-conference matchup against Morris High School. The host association held a brief moment of silence for a youth player who passed away in a house fire earlier that week. In the second period, a small fight started when one of our players, notorious for his horrible language on the ice, called the game “a real barn-burner.” The score? 9-1 in our favor.

Not so Minnesota nice, eh?

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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