After a few months of the sports abyss, it looks like professional sports might be returning in early to mid July. That is welcomed news for sports enthusiasts across the country as we have all been waiting for something to watch and talk about.
Seven weeks into the tournament, we are down to the Elite Eight of athletes to play in Minnesota. Most of the remaining candidates are ones that I thought from the beginning would have successful tournament runs. This round has some extremely interesting matchups.
As a reminder, the goal is determine who the most meaningful athlete to play in Minnesota is based on many factors: seasons spent in Minnesota, Championships and playoff appearances while in Minnesota, All-Star appearances and other awards won while in Minnesota, franchise stats and memorable moments that stand out as well as overall popularity.
Here are the official results from this past week. Not surprisingly, Kevin Garnett thwomped Kent Hrbek with 83% of the vote. In a case of a recent Twins legend against an old one, Joe Mauer garnered 92% of the vote against Tony Oliva. Lindsay Whalen edged out fellow Lynx legend Seimone Augustus with 58% of the vote. Lastly, Maya Moore and Adrian Peterson tied and I am going to have a revote this week. I was late posting this one and want to get legitimate votes, so we will repost that one this week!
Here are the Elite Eight matchups.
Matchup Number One: 1) Kirby Puckett vs 3) Alan Page
This is a matchup of Minnesota legends of old; a two-time World Series hero pitted up against an MVP.
Kirby Puckett: Responsible for potentially the most memorable moment in Minnesota sports history, Puckett is easily one of the most popular athletes to ever step foot in our great state. Puckett spent 12 seasons with the Twins was an All-Star in 10 of them and racked up six Gold Gloves, a 1989 Batting Title, a 1991 ALCS MVP and a 1993 All-Star MVP award. Even more importantly, Kirby led the Twins to two playoff appearances, both resulting in World Series Championships. Considering he had a walk-off home run in the 1991 World Series, the last title won in Minnesota on the men’s side, Puckett still has a place in Minnesota sports fans’ hearts.
Alan Page: One of the most ferocious defenders in Vikings history, Judge Page had a storied career. In 12 seasons with the Purple, Page led the menacing elite Purple People Eaters defense to nine playoff appearances, along with four Super Bowl appearances. Page made nine All-Star teams, six All-Pro 1st teams and even was the 1971 league MVP, the first defensive player to ever win the award.
Matchup Number Two: 3) Randy Moss vs 4) Cris Carter
This is the intriguing matchup that I anticipated when the bracket was seeded, as two of the most popular Vikings of all time square up.
Randy Moss: Randy is one of the most revered Minnesota athletes to this day and had a storied eight season run with the Vikings. Moss jumped on the scene winning the Rookie of the Year and would go on to be a three time 1st Team All-Pro, a five time Pro-Bowler and would help the Vikings make the playoffs in four seasons. Behind Carter, Moss is 2nd in franchise history in yards, receptions and touchdowns with 9,316, 587 and 92 respectively. Moss had some of the most dynamic games in franchise history and the big personality to bring fans in. “Super Bowl Homeboy!”
Cris Carter: Carter had a major impact in his time in Minnesota as an elite playmaking wide receiver. In 12 seasons, Carter made eight Pro-Bowls, was a 1st Team All-Pro twice and helped lead a dynamic Vikings offense to eight playoff appearances. Carter remains the franchise leader in yards, receptions and touchdowns with 12,383, 1004 and 110 respectively, marks that are not going to be broken anytime soon.
Matchup Number Three: 1) Kevin Garnett vs 3) Joe Mauer
Two of the most popular Minnesota athletes of the past 20 years go head to head in a battle of longevity and heart with little playoff success.
Kevin Garnett: The Big Ticket just celebrated his 44th birthday which brought back a flood of awesome memories to social media. Timberwolves fans will always remember his gaudy statline in game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinals at home against the Kings in 2004. Garnett played a cool 45 minutes, shot 52% from the field with 32 points, 21 boards, 5 blocks, 4 steals and was essentially running the Point during portions of the game. This was the final season of an eight year run of playoff appearances, where he racked up racked up 10 All-Star appearances, eight All-NBA appearances in a time where talented Power Forwards were plentiful (Dirk Nowitzki, Chris Webber, Tim Duncan, Karl Malone, Elton Brand to name a few), and even was the 2003/04 league MVP, averaging 24 points, 13.9 rebounds, 5 assists, and 4 stocks (steals and blocks).
Joe Mauer: Perhaps the most beloved Twin in franchise history, the Minnesota boy had a wonderful individual career. In 15 seasons, Minnesota only made the playoffs four times during Mauer’s tenure and had virtually no playoff success. On a personal level, though, Joe made 6 All-Star appearances and is one of the most decorated catchers in MLB history. He was the 2009 AL MVP, won 3 AL Batting Titles, a feat rare to full time catchers, and won 3 Gold Gloves. Plus, who doesn’t have a memory of watching a Twins game with friends or family, seeing a runner on first base with Joe strolling up to the plate and someone saying “Here comes a double play” and seemingly every time it happened?
Matchup Number Four Rematch: 1) Maya Moore vs 4) Adrian Peterson
Maya Moore: Perhaps the most decorated Lynx player in franchise history, Moore had an exceptional career. In her 8 seasons in Minnesota, she led the Lynx to the playoffs all 8 seasons, winning championships in 4 of them. As an individual, Maya was the 2011 Rookie of the Year, 2013 Finals MVP, 2014 League MVP and made 7 All-WNBA teams and 2 All-Defense teams. Although she has pseudo-retired to assist in a social justice case, her career has been dominant, memorable and meaningful. If she ever returns to basketball, she’d make the Lynx instant contenders for a WNBA title, which shows her level of impact.
Adrian Peterson: I still remember my draft take on Peterson – “Why would we draft another running back when we have Chester Taylor? It doesn’t make sense to me.” After he was named the 2007 Rookie of the year, the 2012 NFL MVP and Offensive Player of the year, made 4 1st Team All-Pros, rushed for the 2nd most yards in a season and a single game record of 296 rushing yards, I guess you could say I was wrong. AP was one of the most dominant runners in the past 30 seasons and provided Vikings fans with plenty of highlight moments. Peterson would be higher ranked if it wasn’t for the stain of his major fumbling issues (cough 2009 NFC Championship game) and his personal life issues. However, it seems that most fans have either forgiven Peterson or forgotten about these issues and have fond memories of his time in the purple and gold.