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A state of Mediocrity

As the Bears’ Martellus Bennett dove into the end zone with a game-sealing touchdown last Sunday, I wanted to throw my arms up in exasperation. How typical, how “Vikings.”

I sat on the couch, drained. Why do I even bother any more? When I was a little tyke, I lived and died for the purple and gold, and my little heart couldn’t handle seeing them lose.

Now, all I feel is numb.

But, unlike Pink Floyd, I’m not comfortably numb. It’s uncomfortable and I’m sick of it. It seems like the same storylines repeat every year: will the Vikings finally have a consistent quarterback? Will the Twins finally have a good enough roster to compete in the division? Will the Timberwolves finally stay healthy and make the playoffs? The answer invariably, and repeatedly, is a disappointing no.

-Christian Ponder, just like Tavaris Jackson, Donovan McNabb, and Joe Webb, doesn’t seem to be the answer to the Vikings’ prayers. Ponder just doesn’t seem to be in the elite tier of young quarterbacks populated by Andrew Luck, Colin Kaepernick, and Robert Griffin III.

-The only current Twins that were also on the team in 2010 (the last time we made the playoffs) are Joe Mauer and Brian Duensing. Brian Duensing.

-Last year Brandon Roy, Chase Budinger, Malcolm Lee, Josh Howard, and perennial all-star Kevin Love all missed substantial time due to injury, and the Timberwolves finished with a record of 31 wins and 51 losses.

We’ve become so tolerant of this mediocrity that a season is looked at as a success if we simply qualify for the postseason (see Vikings/Wild last year, Twins in 2010).

“Who cares if we lose in the first round? We made it,” said everyone.

Why are we content with this? For many teams, a season is looked at as a failure if they don’t win in the playoffs. Former Boston Red Sox coach Terry Francona, who won the World Series in 2007, was fired in 2011 after missing the playoffs by a game. For teams like the Red Sox, Yankees, Lakers, and Patriots, winning is the standard, and losing is unacceptable.

Let’s look at the numbers.

Since 2006, the big four (football, baseball, hockey, basketball) Minnesota pro sports teams have had a combined 27 seasons (including this year’s Twins). Out of those seasons, we’ve made the playoffs eight times, and only gone farther than the first round once (the 09-10 Favre-lead Vikings). For all you math majors out there, that means we only qualify for the post-season 30 percent of the time, and have “success” (advance) four percent. That, to say it bluntly, is terrible. And I’m not even including Gopher football or basketball.

I guess that this is more a lament than a petition. These words aren’t going to change this culture of losing. It’s hard to find a city or state with as much consistent mediocrity as Minnesota has.

No Minnesota pro men’s team has won a championship since the 1991 Twins. I haven’t seen one in my lifetime, and at the rate we’re going I’m not going to anytime soon.