Mackey: 6 things we generally refuse to get over as MN sports fans
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Every weeknight on 1500 ESPN, we roll out the SixList -- six items, thoughts, observations, highlights and/or other nonsensical items that are relevant that day.
With the Twins toiling, the Vikings reeling and David Ortiz still mashing in Boston, it got me to thinking about six things we generally refuse to get over as Minnesota sports followers. Feel free to argue in the comment section below.
6.) The Wolves taking Jonny Flynn over Steph Curry in the 2009 draft
It's perfectly acceptable to still be chapped over this whiff on draft day four years ago, because most people's reaction when the Wolves took back-to-back point guards at picks No. 5 and 6 was, "Wait... What?"
The move was sold to us on two fronts by then-Wolves basketball ops "guru" David Kahn: Ricky Rubio, selected one spot ahead of Flynn, likely wouldn't be coming over from Spain until at least 2011 - if at all. And secondly, Flynn had a great smile. Or something like that.
Kahn also made a point to rave about Flynn's defense at the introductory press conference, perhaps forgetting that all Syracuse players are terrible at defense in the NBA because they play exclusively in the 2-3 zone in college.
Meanwhile, Steph Curry - who was deemed too small by many to be an impact player in the NBA - set a league record by canning 272 three-pointers last season. Flynn has hit on 45% of his threes since being drafted, and he averaged 23 points last season while also dishing out seven assists per game.
Steph Curry is damn good. And despite the fact that he, too, is a point guard, I'm guessing he'd fare pretty well playing next to Rubio, who is perhaps the best distributor in the NBA.
In fairness to Flynn, he did average 17.4 points per game last season.
5.) The blown call by Phil Cuzzi in 2009
The Twins have lost four playoff series to the Yankees over the past 10 years, including nine games in a row. So let's not pretend like they were one blown call by an ump away from scaling the mountain.
But good lord, Phil Cuzzi...
To set the scene, the Twins stormed into the playoffs after a sizzling September comeback, winning 17 of their last 21 games and a Game 163 over the Detroit Tigers. The Twins were hot. They also may have been hung over, as a 7-2 loss in Game 1 of the ALDS to the Yankees, in New York, would suggest.
In Game 2, the Twins took a 3-1 lead into the bottom of the ninth inning, only to see Joe Nathan serve up a two-run, game-tying bomb to Alex Rodriguez.
Had Nathan not blown the save, Cuzzi wouldn't have even entered the equation, so the Twins can blame themselves for that. As it was, Joe Mauer led off the top of the 11th inning with a rope that bounced about 12 inches inside the left-field line.
In the playoffs, umpiring crews expand from four to six. In addition to having an ump at every base, there are two additional umps down each foul line. Those foul-line umps basically have one job - to make fair/foul calls.
Cuzzi, staring right at the ball, somehow signaled foul.
Mauer followed with a single, which at the time seemed to erase the blow of Cuzzi's unforgiveable call. But when the next batter, Jason Kubel, singled to right field, the obvious occurred to everyone watching: Had Mauer been standing on second, instead of first, he would have scored on Kubel's single.
The Twins actually wound up loading the bases with nobody out, but Dave Robertson retired Delmon Young, Carlos Gomez and Brendan Harris to wiggle out. Mark Teixeira hit a walk-off bomb off Jose Mijares in the bottom of the 11th.
The Twins fell down two games to none, then lost Game 3 at the Metrodome in part because of a horrible baserunning blunder by Nick Punto.
The Twins shot themselves in the feet many times against the Yankees, but it's possible Cuzzi's blown call may have altered that entire series.
4.) The Gophers blowing a 28-point lead to Michigan in 2003
The Gophers football team ran for 400-plus yards twice during the Glen Mason era, and both times they lost - including on Friday, Oct. 10, 2003 against No. 20 Michigan (the other loss was the epic blocked punt game against Wisconsin in 2005).
Michigan was not a national title contender in 2003, but they were ranked, and the Gophers hadn't won a game against the Wolverines since 1986. Combine this with a 6-0 start by the Gophers, a No. 17 ranking of their own, the nation's most powerful rushing attack thanks to three future NFL backs (Maroney, Barber, Tapeh), a packed Metrodome, national television and a 28-7 fourth-quarter lead, and it seemed as if this was the coming out party for Mason's Gophers.
While this scribe and his peers were plotting how to get from the student section, past security and onto the field after a Gophers victory, the Gophers were busy coughing up a three-touchdown lead.
What would a win against Michigan have meant? For one, it's possible they wouldn't have had the letdown against Michigan State one week later. And secondly, even if they had lost to MSU, beating Michigan would have given the Gophers a 6-2 record in the Big 10 (they also lost to Iowa later in the year), and a 10-2 record overall heading into bowl season.
I'm 75% sure the Gophers would have owned the tie-breaker among the 6-2 teams in conference, thus vaulting them to a Rose Bowl.
A Rose Bowl could have lifted the Gophers to a platform they hadn't seen in 40 years. It may have changed the scope of the program.
3.) The Twins non-tendering David Ortiz in 2003
The Twins will cite injuries, an inability to play first base, money and lack of a trade partner as reasons for non-tendering David Ortiz prior to the 2003 season.
The Red Sox will cite Ortiz hitting 18 home runs in 89 games in 2001 and 20 home runs in 125 games in 2002 as reasons why they picked him up.
Point, Red Sox.
Over the past 10 years, Ortiz has helped deliver two World Series titles to Boston - the first two since 1918 - and 373 total home runs.
Ortiz always complained about how the Twins made him hit like a (wuss), but he has been one of the best opposite-field hitters in baseball since leaving Minnesota. Complaining about Tom Kelly wanting him to drive the ball to left field seems odd.
But here's the toughest part to swallow: Let's say, hypothetically, the Twins would have given Ortiz one more year in 2003, and he put together a solid season (much like he did in 2002, actually) - 20+ homers, solid OBP, etc. The Twins may have given him a 3-year contract extension for 2004, 2005 and 2006.
Remember some of the guys the Twins used at DH from 2003 through 2006?
Jose Offerman, Craig Monroe, Phil Nevin...
2.) The 2009 Vikings
From Favre's arrival in a black SUV and his miracle pass to Greg Lewis in Week 3 to Adrian Peterson's fumbles, Favre's interception and 12 men in the huddle, the 2009 season was one of the cruelest troll jobs the NFL gods have ever pulled off.
Because of the scars left from 1998, it took Vikings fans all of 16 regular season games, a blowout win over Dallas in the playoffs, and 58 minutes of that NFC Championship Game in New Orleans to finally let their guards down.
When Favre hit Sidney Rice on a 20-yard pass with 1:39 left in the fourth quarter to put the Vikings into Saints territory, victory was a foregone conclusion.
What happened from there is almost as devastating to Vikings fans as...
1.) The 1998 Vikings
Just missed the list: The Drew Pearson Push Off Game, 1975
In this case, I feel like there's a statute of limitation. Yes, it's possible the 1975 Vikings team may have been one of the best in franchise history - a Super Bowl-caliber team that started 10-0 and featured a quarterback with the second-highest passer rating (Fran Tarkenton) and also perhaps the best defense in the NFL.
The Vikings were done in by a miracle play and some poor officiating, but the franchise has witnessed at least two Super Bowl-caliber teams since then (most notably the aforementioned '98 and '09 squads) both produce their own "How in God's name did they screw this one up?" moments.
Also just missed: The North Stars moving to Dallas in 1993
The Wild have been here for more than a decade. It's probably time to get over this one.