Minnesota sports title drought continues after early exits for Timberwolves, Wild
MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - Minnesota sports fans can put away their lawn chairs and hold off on planning for parade routes for at least another six months. At this point, it almost seems like a ritual for a local sports franchise to get bounced from the first round of the playoffs.
The Minnesota Timberwolves could only make it five games before its season ended in the first round of the Western Conference Playoffs against the Denver Nuggets. They made the playoffs for a second straight year, but couldn’t do much with the opportunity. This week, the Minnesota Wild are the talk of the sports frustration landscape after losing in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs to the Dallas Stars.
Wild GM Bill Guerin said this week the goal isn’t to get out of the first round, it’s to win a championship. Well, the road to a title starts by getting out of the first round. Minnesota hasn’t had a sports championship from one of its major four teams since the Minnesota Twins in 1991. That’s 32 years.
Yes, I hear you Lynx fans. The Minnesota Lynx are the only local sports franchise to taste championship success during that time. They won four WNBA titles – in 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2017 – but have also had three early exits themselves in the last five seasons.
Also not to be forgotten is Minnesota United, which played for a U.S. Open Cup title in 2019 and was one win away from playing for Major League Soccer's championship in 2020.
So how bad has it gotten when it gets to playoff time? Here’s a look at each team between the Vikings, Twins, Timberwolves and Wild.
We’re well aware the Vikings have made four Super Bowl appearances, with zero victories. Since the Twins won the World Series in 1991, the Vikings have made 16 appearances in the NFC Playoffs. Eight times, they’ve lost in the Wild Card round, including this past year. Four times, they’ve lost in the NFC Divisional Playoffs. The other four results, you guessed it, are gut-wrenching heartbreak in the NFC Championship Game.
We all remember the Minneapolis Miracle in 2018. The next week at Philadelphia, with a chance to play a home game in the Super Bowl, the Vikings got drilled 38-7 at the Eagles, who eventually won the Super Bowl. In 2010, it was Brett Favre throwing across his body for an interception as the Vikings lost at the New Orleans Saints in overtime. Nobody wants to talk about 41-donut in 2001, and in 1999, it was wide left from Gary Anderson in Randy Moss’s rookie year.
The Timberwolves, frankly, just haven’t had many chances to compete for a title over the last three decades. They lost in the first round of the Western Conference Playoffs seven straight times under Flip Saunders. Finally in 2004, Kevin Garnett led them to the Western Conference Finals. We’ll never know if that series is different, if Sam Cassell stays healthy.
The Timberwolves have made the playoffs three times since over a span of 19 years, all first round exits to the Rockets, Grizzlies and Nuggets.
The Wild might be the most frustrating of the postseason batch of losers. Since starting in Minnesota in 2001, the Wild has been a playoff team 13 times. This year marked the fourth straight year, and seventh time in eight seasons, they haven’t gotten out of the first round. In 2014 and 2015, they got to the semifinals and were eliminated. In 22 seasons, the Wild has made one appearance in the Western Conference Finals. It was 2003-04, in a series loss to the Anaheim Ducks.
After winning the World Series in 1991, the Twins didn’t make the playoffs again until 2002. Ironically, that was also the last time they made a legitimate playoff run. The Twins have made nine playoff appearances since 1991. From 2003-2020, they’ve lost 18 straight playoff games. In 2002, they got to the ALCS against the now Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim before losing that series in five games.
The Twins have won two American League Central Division titles under Rocco Baldelli, but he’s 0-5 in the playoffs. The numbers aren't pretty, but it's the harsh truth.
Our next chance for a major pro sports title is the Twins, but that will have to wait until October. When you’ve waited 32 years, what’s another six months?