HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
October 2, 2006

What a great fall this will be

By Matt Kane

I’m not sure, but this may just be the best time of the year for a Minnesota sports fan.

The air is growing cold, the leaves are turning colors, and the Twins, Vikings and Wild are wowing their respective fans, who tend to be one and the same; and the Timberwolves take to the hard court Oct. 11 for their first preseason game.

And let’s not forget about the amateur sports scene.

In the college ranks, the Johnnies football team is doing its usual thing at St. John’s and, unfortunately, so, too, are the Golden Gophers, of the same sport. Hey, at least their Big Ten opponents are fun to watch.

Don’t worry Gopher fans, relief from the football woes begins this week when the University of Minnesota hockey teams open play. The men are at the Xcel Energy Center against Maine, Friday; and the girls host the coed version of the Black Bears at Ridder Arena in the Easton Shootout.

And then there are the prep sports. October means crunch time for high school athletes – as will the Twins.

The Twins clinched a playoff berth Tuesday against Kansas City, and celebrated like rock stars. But I think all sports fans and players know getting to the postseason means nothing if the team doesn’t do anything once it is there.

But the fact that the Twins are in, makes this time of year the best for Minnesotans.
If the Twins would have failed to reach the playoffs, it would have been just another autumn, with the Vikings holding the distinction as the most popular team in the Twin Cities. After the Sept. 17 loss to the Bears, I don’t think anybody wants that to happen.

Look how good the Twins are for their purple and gold roommates. Winning in late September sped up the recovery from the indigestion dumped on us by the Vikings’ play.

But there are a lot of games left for the Vikings, and we should have a better idea of who they really are this month.

Getting back to the Twins, hopefully, we find out they are the best team in Major League Baseball. Wouldn’t it be great to freeze our fannies off on Hennepin Avenue watching the players float by during a ticker tape parade? (Do they still use ticker tape?) I bet nobody would object to heading inside the climate-controlled Metrodome then.

The Twins players could have a lot of bling by that time. The brass and pewter Commissioner’s Trophy, given to the World Series champion, would be the center piece of the collection. Accompanying it would be the Louisville Silver Slugger bats given to Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau for being the best offensive players at their respective positions. Mauer would also have the hardware from winning the AL batting title, and Morneau the heavy hardware of the AL MVP. And don’t forget about Johan Santana’s Cy Young plaque and Nick Punto’s Rawlings Gold Glove. The Twins might need to build a bigger trophy case.

There is a slight chance the Twins will not win the World Series. And a slight chance the Vikings, Wild, Timberwolves, Gophers (all sports), and the Johnnies won’t finish where we hope they will.

If this is the case and the frustration is building, Minnesotans can turn to their other favorite autumn sport — hunting.

The shot in the arm from the kick of a 12-gauge shotgun is the best relief from the nausea brought on by another Vikings’ loss.

But, hopefully, we won’t need to shoot anything to relieve stress this season.

Hopefully, our favorite teams play up to, and beyond, their expectations.

I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t mind having a World Series, Super Bowl, Stanley Cup, NBA and several NCAA championship trophies to show off.

But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. For all the teams but the Twins, the schedules are just beginning this season. The best season.

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