After months and months of research, voting, and bracketeering, the champion has been crowned for Minnesota’s Most Meaningful Athlete. I’m sure you are at the edge of your seats… just like I am. Well, not really because I know the results. But I digress.
The winner, with 60% of the vote, was the one and only Kirby Puckett. While Kevin Garnett was a meaningful athlete, he never had much playoff success. He is the best this franchise has ever seen and probably ever will see, but that was never enough to get the T-Wolves over the hump. Regardless of whether that was his fault or management’s fault, that is the unfortunate truth.
Puckett was a beloved athlete, known for his bubbly personality and his clutch ability. As I’ve stated before, everyone remembers where they were when Kirby Puckett hit that game 6 walk-off home run in the 11th inning. Nostalgia is a powerful drug, especially when it comes to sports and championships (just ask anyone who is a Packer fan). The first overall seed going into the tournament proudly took home the title for Most Meaningful Athlete and it was an honor he deserved.
In other news, sports are finally returning. Most professional sports leagues are eying mid-July as a date when seasons can either start or resume play. Let’s take a quick peek around the professional leagues to see how it impacts our local teams.
First, the NHL is going to resume by jumping straight into the playoffs with 24 teams involved at two neutral sites for all of the games. The top four seeds in each conference will play a round robin tournament to determine the seeding. In the play-in round, the 5-12 teams in each conference will play a five game series to determine who will make the first round of the playoffs.
In this format, the Minnesota Wild will sneak into the playoffs as the 10th overall seed in the West and will face off with the 7th seeded Vancouver Canucks. During the regular season, the Wild were 2-1 against the Canucks and actually have a decent chance of winning this series. Regardless, in a season where it seemed the Wild would take a major step back, they will still sneak into the playoffs and playoff hockey is always entertaining.
The NBA is also going to resume in mid-July with a similar format. However, this plan has a few differences from the NHL. First, not everyone in the league is onboard. This is both due to the COVID-19 situation as well as the equality movement that has stemmed from the murder of George Floyd. Some major players have expressed that they are uninterested in playing more games this year.
When it comes to specifically the basketball portion of the plan, 22 teams have been invited to Orlando to play eight regular season games to determine the playoff seeding. After that, a regular playoffs with seven game series will commence with 16 teams.
The saddest part about this is the fact that in the Western Conference, 13 of the 15 teams are invited to Orlando. The two that aren’t are: The Golden State Warriors, who without Klay Thompson or Steph Curry purposefully tanked to let their stars rest and heal and to hopefully add young talent to the squad, and the Minnesota Timberwolves, who were trying their hardest to be competitive. Yet another tough year of being a Wolves fan…
Lastly, the MLB may or may not have a season. Owners and the players association are fighting and bickering back and forth concerning the number of games and how much players should be paid. They cannot agree on anything. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred went from saying “unequivocally, we are going to play Major League Baseball this year” to “I’m not confident” there will be a season.
It is very Minnesotan that a roster coming off the most wins in franchise history might not get to follow it up with an opportunity to win the division and make a run for a World Series. I guess all we can hope for is that the Wild get just enough puck luck to get us to the NFL season.