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2016 - The Worst Year In Minnesota Sports History

Vikings, Twins, Timberwolves, Gophers, Wild, Lynx, Loons ... All the disappointments in 2016 for the Minnesota sports teams.

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2016 might have been the worst year of my life. No, not because of graduating and going into the real world … 2016 was much worse because of something else – being a Minnesota sports fan.

Below are the most painful moments of the year (in mostly chronological order) for the year that should not be named anymore.

January 10, 2016 (The worst day of the year)

Brace Hemmelgarn / Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sport

The NFC North Division Champ Minnesota Vikings were taking on the defending NFL runner up Seattle Seahawks in the first round of the playoffs. The game was brutally cold (-6 degrees at TCF Bank Stadium) and neither team could get much going for most of the game. With 1:42 left and losing 10-9, Teddy Bridgewater led the Vikings down the field and set up a 27-yard chip shot field goal to win the game. Blair Walsh sets up from the left hash and misses so badly that it never even had a chance. The game is over, the season is over, and the hearts of Minnesota fans are ripped out once again (see 1998, 2001, 2003, 2009, etc).

Minnesota Timberwolves

SLAM Online

During the 2015-16 NBA season, the Timberwolves missed the playoffs for the 12th consecutive season, the second longest drought in league history. The worst part about the season was that we lost both our coach and the best player in team history. Flip Saunders, the man behind the current rebuild of the Wolves (Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine, Karl Anthony Towns) passed away in late 2015 after a battle with cancer and Timberwolves legend Kevin Garnett retired.

Now in the start of the 2016-17 season, the Timberwolves are 11-22 and near the bottom of the Western Conference.

Minnesota Gophers Basketball

ESPN

The 2015-16 campaign saw Richard Pitino’s boys finish the season 8-23 and starting 0-13 in Big Ten play before winning 2 of the last 5 (one being an upset over Maryland). The team lost 3 players to suspensions and had 1 kicked off for detrimental conduct.

Minnesota Twins

As winter turned to spring, the Minnesota Twins looked to build on a promising 2015 where they nearly made the playoffs. The season was all but lost after starting the season 0-9. Our top prospects – Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano, Jose Berrios, Eddie Rosario – all were demoted because of very poor performance. The team never got out of the AL Central cellar. The lone bright spot was Brian Dozier who had 42 homeruns, one short of the all time record for second basemen.

April 24, 2016

CBS Sports

The Minnesota Wild were on the brink of elimination against the Dallas Stars. Facing a 4-0 deficit at the start of the third period, Game 6 seemed all but over for the home team. The Wild stormed back with 3 goals in the 3rd period (the first two being 16 seconds apart) and after giving up 1 (a fluky bouncing puck) to the Stars, scored again to make it 5-4.

With 30 seconds left and all the momentum, Nino Niederreiter shot the puck from point blank range and was millimeters away from tying the game. The Wild lost and were eliminated from the playoffs.

Minnesota Vikings - From First to Worst

Carlos Gonzalez

- August 30 – Starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater dislocated his knee and tore his ACL in a non contact injury while dropping back to pass

- September 18 – All Pro running back Adrian Peterson tore his meniscus and was placed on IR

- 5 offensive lineman placed on IR (Loadholdt, Harris, Long, Kalil, Smith)

- 8 more offensive lineman missed game time throughout the year because of injuries

- Other players who missed games: All Pro Harrison Smith, All Pro Xavier Rhodes, Stefon Diggs, Eric Kendricks, Sharrif Floyd, Tom Johnson, Jerick McKinnon, Trae Waynes, and Marcus Sherels

- Week 9 – Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner resigned

- Week 13 – Head Coach Mike Zimmer missed game because of detached retina

- After starting the season 5-0, the Vikings are going to miss the playoffs after embarrassing showings against the Colts and Packers in Week 15 and 16

October 20, 2016

SB Nation

The Minnesota Lynx lost Game 5 of the WNBA Finals to the Los Angeles Sparks, but the loss was full of controversy. With 1:14 left in the game, the referees missed a shot clock violation on the Sparks, giving them the lead. The Lynx would end up losing by 1 point on a buzzer beater

Minnesota United FC

View this video on YouTube

youtube.com

Minnesota United opened the season as favorites to finish top 2 in the NASL and content for the league title. A decent spring season had them in 4th place but a bad fall season (finished the last 13 games 2-5-6) that ended in an 8th place finish seems to question if the team will be ready for MLS play. Two 1-0 losses in the last two games of the season against the Carolina Railhawks and NY Cosmos sealed their fate.

We also had one of the worst own goals I have ever seen (see video).

November 12, 2016

AP

A win against Nebraska would’ve put the Minnesota Gophers football team into a front seat for the Big Ten West division race. After leading 17-10 at half, the Gophers couldn’t get anything going in the second half and a red zone interception with 1:30 left in the 4th by Mitch Leidner was the final kill.

Minnesota also lost to Penn State by 3 in OT (who ended up winning the Big Ten) and to rival Iowa by 7 earlier in the year, which made this game even more important.

The same day, the #4 ranked University of Minnesota Women’s Soccer team lost in the NCAA tournament first round to unranked North Carolina State in penalty kicks.

Thanksgiving Weekend 2016

Kirthmon F Dozier

This weekend was the epitome of football in Minnesota. It started Thursday with the Vikings at the Detroit Lions. The Vikings weren’t playing great but were in the lead with less than 5 minutes left. The Lions drove the length of the field and got a field goal to tie it at 13. Sam Bradford (who we traded a 1st and 4th round pick for) threw a forced pass that resulted in an interception. The Lions ran the clock down and kicked a game winning field goal – a heartbreaking inner division loss for the Vikes.

The weekend didn’t get much better when the Gophers football team took on the rival Wisconsin Badgers. A win would give the Gophers a share of the Big Ten West division title – a huge accomplishment – and would break the streak of 12 straight losses against Wisconsin. The halftime score was 17-7 and everything was going right for Minnesota. In the 3rd quarter, disaster struck. Mitch Leidner, a senior QB that ESPN Analyst Mel Kiper once had as a projected first round pick, threw 4 interceptions in the second half resulting in 24 unanswered points for the Badgers.

December 15, 2016

Joshua A. Bickel / TNS

The year 2016 finishes out with the Minnesota Gophers volleyball team. A great regular season including multiple weeks at the #1 spot in the nation led to a successful NCAA tournament run. However, just like all other Minnesota sports in 2016, we were bound to fall short. Facing the #6 ranked Stanford Cardinal, Minnesota was upset 3 sets to 1.

Reasons for Optimism

Bleacher Report

Timberwolves - The first team in NBA history to have three players aged 21 to average 20+ points per game. Towns, Wiggins, and LaVine all have high potential.

Twins - Brian Dozier (if he stays) is solid and our farm system is still pretty good.

Vikings - A stout defense and having many players back from injury should help the Vikings next year. Sam Bradford broke the NFL record for season completion percentage and a better offensive line should help him improve.

Wild - A 12 game win streak ended but the team is still one of the best in the league right now. This is the closest team to playoff relevancy as 2016 ends.

MN United FC - With the Loons moving from the NASL to the MLS, the opportunity is there. A new stadium never hurts either.

MN Gophers basketball - A 12-2 start is much better than last year and the team has the potential to be relevant in the Big Ten.

MN Gophers football - A strong showing in the Holiday Bowl against Washington State ended the season on a high note. Tracey Claeys is out (amid his support in a messy legal case with 10 of his players) and PJ Fleck is in. Fleck's "Row The Boat" mantra has already brought in new recruits and hopefully he can lead the program to more success like he had at Western Michigan.

RIP 2016, You Will Not Be Missed. Sincerely, A Minnesota Sports Fan

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