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My Home Team Curse Is Finally Over
I can't tell you how many times I've watched Gary Gaetti field a groundball, fire it to Kent Hrbek and relived the magic of the Twins 1987 World Series championship. As a 6 year old, it instantly made me a lifelong Twins fan. The Twins won again in 1991 and guaranteed that I would always be a fan of my home town team. Since then, my record has been somewhat less than stellar. But the agony of defeat finally became the thrill of victory in overtime last night.Since 1991, my "home town" teams have included the Minnesota Twins, Vikings, Timberwolves, North Stars, Golden Gophers, Oregon Ducks (freshmen and sophomore years in college) and the Wisconsin Badgers (my alma mater). During that time, my sports suffering has been miserable. I'm no Cubs fan, but some might even call my career rooting for the home team cursed.After the 1991 title, the Twins and I suffered through mostly uneventful losing seasons until 2002. Between 2002 and 2006, the Twins won four division titles, but only six playoff games and one playoff series win. This was most devastating in 2006. Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and Johan Santana earned the American league batting title, Most Valuable Player award and Cy Young award, respectively yet produced not even one playoff win. To add insult to injury, former Twins David Ortiz, A.J. Pierzynski and Doug Mienticwicz all won World Series titles with other teams, including with the Boston Red Sox. What are the odds of that?The Vikings have fared at least as bad. Mixing in several division titles throughout my life, the Vikings have failed to advance to the Super Bowl, despite a record setting 1998 season in which they went 15-1 and set league scoring records. Kicker Gary Anderson made every extra point and field goal all season, except the last one which would have sealed the NFC Championship and sent the Vikings to the Super Bowl. I will not discuss the Herschel Walker trade which gave the Dallas Cowboys the draft pick to select Emmitt Smith and win three Super Bowl titles.It is not even worth getting me started about the Timberwolves. A .434 winning percentage over 18 seasons is unremarkable at best. Seven straight losses in the first round of the playoffs is not much better. Even finishing with the best record in the tough Western Conference in 2004 produced few results as the team lost in the Conference Finals. Kevin Garnett now has a great chance of finally winning an NBA title with the Boston Celtics this year.Even less can be said of the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers. The football team has been successful in a couple of insignificant bowl games (probably bowl games that wouldn't exist in a college football playoff system). The basketball Gophers did have one season of glory, earning a number one seed in the 1997 NCAA Tournament and reaching the Final Four, only to have that statistic erased in an academic fraud scandal. The school did win the NIT in 1993, which was kind of exciting at the time.I'm not much of a hockey fan, but I will say that the Minnesota North Stars lost the 1991 Stanley Cup Finals and then won the Stanley Cup after moving to Dallas.In college, I spent two years at the University of Oregon. In 2001, the Duck football team finished #2 in the country but were left out of the National Championship game in favor of Nebraska. I was able to savor some form of victory, as the Ducks win the Fiesta Bowl convincingly while Nebraska was embarrassed in the National Championship Game. The 2002 Oregon basketball team also made a run to the Elite Eight but were defeated by my not-yet-home team Kansas Jayhawks.I transferred to the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2002 and quickly experienced the same results in rooting for the Badgers. In 2004, I watched the Badger football team win its first nine games and begin to think about a national championship before losing its last three games.But the curse finally ended last night. No more watching everyone else enjoy sports success at the expense of my own team. Last night was for the Jayhawks. I'll let the pictures and video do the talking.The game winds down at Set 'Em Up Jack's Post-Game Madness on Mass St.