[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="630" caption="The Twins used to offer MSDS relief..."][/caption]
Sports are going on all around the US, there are four NBA playoff games tonight, a NHL playoff game and a couple thousand MLB games. For Minnesotans we aren't all that involved. We are used to not being in the NBA or NHL playoffs, that is nothing new. Yet, for the Twins not to take our deep winter sports depression away come spring is what hurts. Then you add to that the frustrating Vikings stadium bill, and the further the disconnect Minnesota sports fans feel from the actual sports action on the field. After watching the movie Contagion this past weekend, I am washing my hands raw so I don't die like Gwenyth Paltrow, but also I am more in tune to infectious disease. MSDS, or Minnesota Sports Disconnect Syndrome, seems to be spreading across this state like wildfire and STOB is not immune.
Unfortunately, the cure may not come until fall.
The cure for MSDS is simple. There has to be a sports team for fans to look to cheer on for actions taken by that team ON the field, and for those same actions to be in meaningful games within said teams organization or league. That is why in most states or cities it is rare for SDS to spread, like it is currently in Minnesota. MSDS is a Minnesota strain of the disease, CSDS is the Cleveland strain for example, each area has a disease with its own characteristics. When the LA Clippers used to bring the disease to the Los Angeles area pre-Lob City, fans merely had to take the Lakers pill to cure any symptoms of LASDS. During the Isiah Thomas era of the New York Knicks, the Big Apple was crawling with the NYSDS bug near Madison Square Garden, but fans again had the cure in the Yankees to protect them and their families. Cities like Cleveland though haven't been so lucky.
This summer, Minnesota could reach levels of MSDS that rivals Cleveland's CSDS epidemic, which may cause President Obama to declare Minnesota a "MSDS Disaster Area", just as Lyndon B. Johnson did with Cleveland in 1967, two years after their last championship. President Bush (W) and Barack Obama never pulled the "CSDS Disaster Area" title from Cleveland during the Lebron James years, and it turned out to be a very good decision allowing the resources to be available post-"The Decision".
In states or areas such as South Dakota or Wyoming where there are no professional sports, the disease rarely if ever infects sports fans. The reason for that is that people in these states may not be sports fans at all, so are then unable to fall victim to SDS. Or they root for a team from a different region. Or finally, they root for their local high school and college sports teams that have such a close proximity to them, SDS is unable to penetrate their sports immune system (SIS).
Here in Minnesota though, we have professional sports teams that most of us root for as resident sports fans. "Homers" are the most likely to fall victim from SDS in areas such as Minnesota. Reason for that is that the only team a "homer" roots for is their local team. So for example a Minnesota "homer" would root for: Twins, Wolves, Vikings, Wild and Gophers major sports. Just looking at this list you see how serious the situation is in Minnesota currently. This area is ripe for an epidemic of MSDS and as previously stated, the only sight of a cure is months away.
"Non-homers" or as some like to call them "bandwagon jumpers", like myself (though I'd argue against myself being lumped in with "bandwagon jumpers"...but I digress), who root for teams outside of their city, state or area are less likely to fall victim to the SDS disease that maybe spreading in their area. Reason being these fans are usually rooting on good teams. Yet, if you are a Minnesota resident rooting on the Miami Dolphins, you are not immune!
The distant hope I've mentioned comes from a place that for a good portion of the winter kept Minnesota's MSDS epidemic from hitting earlier than spring. The Minnesota Timberwolves were playing meaningful basketball into March for the first time since the 2004-2005 season. MSDS has run rampant in the halls of the Target Center ever since that season. That fog of MSDS isn't hard to shake, and as much as the new look Wolves tried to eradicate it, it mutated. It's new form took hold by tearing a ligament of Ricky Rubio's knee. MSDS then was free to set its teeth back into the fans that filled the Target Center for the rest of the year. The result, Wolves fans looked ahead of the actual play on the court towards the off-season, as usual. Yet, with Rubio returning and Kevin Love playing like a possible future MVP candidate, there is hope the Wolves will be the cure for MSDS come next fall.
The Vikings prior to this past season had worked hand in the hand with the Twins to keep MSDS at bay in Minnesota. This past year though, their walls of defense both on the field and in the battle against MSDS failed to protect the goal line and the fans. This upcoming season could offer some fans a short amount of relief with an easy early schedule. The US Center for Disease Control estimates that this early sign of hope will not be enough, and the Vikings fans will quickly take their eye off of the on field action at the Dome and put more time into seeing which high draft pick they could get if the Vikings lose the last few games and move higher in the draft. Something Wolves fans infected with MSDS are used to.
The Wild also showed promise of a cure early this season, only to then allow the Xcel Energy Center to be covered in MSDS like an elementary school water fountain is covered with disease during flu season.
The other hope for a cure also, unfortunately, comes in the fall in the form of the Minnesota Gopher basketball team. Mbakwe is back and the squad just may make it to the NCAA Tournament and be relevant the entire year in the B1G conference. Tubby Smith's teams though have been relied on before for MSDS relief and failed. Making it hard for myself to get behind the Gophers as the likely cure.
Unfortunately now, MSDS is immune to such sports as the WNBA and LFL. Unless you are in the stadiums to get your shot of relief from MSDS, these two leagues are yet to have strong enough antibodies. The shot of relief from being there is only temporary as well. A comparison is a kiss from mom on a skinned knee as a kid. Feels better for a second, but when you hopped in the shower or bath later that day it hurt like hell again. The WNBA and LFL are more of a placebo than a cure, working for some just because they allow their mind to think they are being cured, while also not working at all for most who are not fooled into thinking they could help at all. (sorry LFL...loooove youuuu! ;-) )
So, what are Minnesotans to do all summer long? Everyone deals with the disease differently. Reality TV, drinking, reading other sections of the newspaper for the first time, reading...period, talking about each other's lives with buddies for once instead of just the local sports scene, playing sports instead of just watching, grilling for dinner instead of just for tailgating or finding other hobbies outside of sport.
Still, not all find good ways to deal with the symptoms of MSDS. You will see these sick people going to Target Field and actually getting upset that a team the caliber of most triple A squads are losing to actual professional teams. Do your best to keep your distance from these poor diseased lepers. If you don't, you run the risk of roped into a conversation about how Clete Thomas is actually starting to improve by getting near a .200 batting average. After this sort of conversation, unless you are jacked up on Vitamin "I don't give a crap about this crappy team", you may catch the MSDS disease.
The STOB Crew is somewhat protected. Ken is delusional. He is so excited about the Gopher Basketball program, much more than 99% of Gopher fans, that he actually gains enough protection from MSDS. Derrick currently does have MSDS, but will soon make close to a full recovery from it with Tape Ball Season starting. I have always been protected by Duke Basketball, not as much this year as usual, but enough that I should survive until the Wolves begin play again.
For those of you who do have MSDS currently or fall victim to it this summer, STOB is here for you and welcome you to continue visiting the site. As Minnesota residents this summer, we'll all have a little MSDS in our system and coming together at place like STOB can help.
May God have mercy on our MSDS infected souls.