Minnesota Not So Nice

McHale’s gift

There are only so many times you can leave me. Only so many times I’ll open my heart to you and let you break it. Eventually I’ll learn and I’ll change. In time I’ll stop falling in and out of love with you.

As fans we grow close to our teams. We mark our lives by their ups and downs. Beyond our teams we follow the careers of our favorite players with interest and fervor. I remember Johan Santana dominating American League batters to the tune of two Cy Youngs. I remember Kevin Garnett bringing the MVP trophy to the Twin Cities. I remember Randy Moss and Daunte Culpepper terrorizing defensive backs as one of the most dominant receiver/ quarterback combos of the first half of this decade. I remember because I was so thoroughly involved. I was committed.

Perhaps more telling is that I vividly remember their departures. I remember the players I looked up to as holding the banner of Minnesota sports proudly depart for greener pastures, bigger paydays, or a new start altogether. What hurts more as a sports fan than your sports heroes in different colors? Randy Moss, Torii Hunter, Kevin Garnett, Daunte Culpepper, Stephon Marbury, Jacque Jones, Corey Chavous, Johan Santana…… the list seems to go on and on. The pain seems to continue.

You have to ask yourself; will I sit here in misery? Will I change team allegiance per my favorite player? The L.A. Angels took Torii Hunter and paid him what we couldn’t. The Boston Celtics took Kevin Garnett and put him in the championship hunt that we couldn’t. The New England Patriots put Randy Moss on the national stage and cemented his status as an all-time great. As much as it hurts for players you’ve followed since the beginning of their careers to achieve real recognition and respect for other teams it is the reality of the free agent era. Should my faithfulness also have a price tag? Should I trade my support with every new contract? God forbid.

In this era it’s not too smart to get attached. Your favorite team is like that girl you knew in college that had a new “friend” every other week. Don’t play yourself, you probably won’t be settling down. That being said, what’s a real fan to do? How long do we cry these sorrow filled tears? You have to understand, for some of us this gets personal. I can find Mauldin, SC on the map purely because that’s where KG was born and raised. I somehow feel connected to Torii Hunter because I know intimately what it takes to make it out of rural Arkansas and turn oneself into a success. You develop a sincere appreciation for a region, a state, or a school and it’s hard to shake it. Accordingly with that appreciation comes bona fide admiration for the players who gave of themselves for those regions, states and schools. Unfortunately there comes a time when you must say goodbye to yesterday. A time when sports heroes present become sports heroes past.

So once I’ve said my goodbye’s where do I start picking up the pieces? How do I start the healing process? I’ll go to the same teams where my love started. I’ll look to new stars and start the love affair anew. I’ll preach to all listeners the burgeoning greatness of Al Jefferson, Delmon Young, and Adrian Peterson. I’ll tell people how Tubby Smith is going to restore the pride and competitiveness to University of Minnesota basketball that Clem Haskins took with him when he left. Minnesota sports teams are alive and well if not always very good. As the losses pile up the stars continue to mature and take their place among the all time greats.

The love affair continues only with new participants. As fans we’ll continue to fall in and out of love with them.

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