About 10 years ago, once upon a time, I used to live in Southern Minnesota—The Land of 10,000 Lakes.
My summers consisted of lots of fishing, while my winters kept me indoors and out of the winter wonderland.
Being such an avid sports fan since birth, I fell in love with all of the Minnesota professional teams—Vikings, Twins, and Timberwolves.
It was kind of like my first girlfriend. I was completely obsessed and attached. However, she was one of those girlfriends who you spent so much time with, but never gave anything back in return.
And, as any Minnesota fan would tell you, they live in a state deprived of any kind sport's championship or national recognition.
The Twins use to be the bottom feeders of the division for the longest time during the Jim Kelley era. I've been to a handful of games in the Metrodome, and I can't even recall a time they won a game that I went to.
The Vikings weren't exactly a powerhouse team either in the Denny Green era, until quarterback Brad Johnson was replaced by Randall Cunningham. Add Randy Moss into the equation, and purple and gold had one of the most high-octane offenses for awhile.
The Vikings were a Gary Andersen field goal away from a Super Bowl trip, not to mention a Confererence Championship blow out in the Meadowlands.
My Timberwolves were pretty much irrelevant to the NBA for the longest time, even with Kevin Garnett. However, I saw the talent and level of competitiveness slowly rise and become something huge.
First round exit after first round exit in the playoffs never gave me much hope after every disappointing season.
The 2003-04 Timberwolves' season was magical. Garnett won the MVP, they finally made it out of the first round, but they couldn't get past Shaq and Kobe.
Then, one day, my dad told me we would be moving to Philadelphia and would be leaving Minnesota—a decision that would probably affect me for the rest of my life and not just from a sports perspective.
I was heartbroken.
We tried to do the whole "long-distance" thing, and I tried my best to keep up with everything Minnesotan via the internet. But ultimately, we had to break things off. It was just too difficult for me to follow and I could never acquire that passion for them maybe ever again.
I left the Gopher State just like a lot of other high profile players have done so, which a lot of people don't realize.
David Ortiz, Johan Santana, Torii Hunter, Chuck Knoblauch all left the Twins or were traded. Randy Moss was traded away from the Vikings, and Kevin Garnett finally wanted out of the Timberwolves after 12 years with the organization.
However, these past couple of days have made me reminisce about my childhood as I rallied behind my favorite teams. For once in the past two decades, the whole nation was fixated on what was happening in the Metrodome.
Monday's highly anticipated Packers-Vikings game was something I knew I couldn't miss. What was more important, a midterm exam the next day or watching Brett Favre play against his former rival team? After years of witnessing Favre torment the Vikings, it was ironic to see him in purple lining up against the Packers.
The next day, after bombing my midterm, I raced back home to catch the Twins play their tiebreaker to get into the playoffs. I was amazed by the turnout of the crowd and the homer hankies waving in full force.
I have to admit, last night's game was the first full-length baseball game I watched all year and it was probably the most memorable one I've ever watched. Solid, manufactured baseball provided excellent drama for viewers all over the country.
To see the Metrodome packed for two consecutive nights helped remind me that Minnesotans still love their professional sports. There's a lot of promise for the Vikings this season and optimism for the Twins. Even the Timberwolves won their first preseason game!
The Vikings, Twins, and Timberwolves—three small market teams in the sports world—will always have a place in my heart.
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