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These are some of the biggest Minnesota Sports moments of the last decade.
With Pics: http://sportsmn.blogspot.com
1. Jacque Jones vs Kansas City Royals (2002): In 2001 we went through an off-season that was centered around one word; Contraction. Carl Pohlad had given Bud Selig to okay to dismantle his club and it looked like that would be the end of the Minnesota Twins. A team that finally showed life after 8 losing season in a row by finishing 85-77 was going to just go away. After Judge Harry Crump ruled that the Twins had to fufill their lease in 2002, Jacque Jones started the season off the right way. Jacque took Jeff Suppan deep and started the Twins on their way to their first division championship since 1991.
2. Kevin Garnett vs. Sacramento Kings (2004): After failing to advance out of the first round of the playoffs every year starting in 1997, the Minnesota Timberwolves finally got over the hump in 2004. They ousted the Denver Nuggets 4-1 and were finally ready to take their #1 seed to the conference finals. All that stood in their way were the Kings. After going down 1-0, they fought back and stayed one game up until Game 7. Tied at 3-3, KG had these famous words "I'm loadin' up the pump. I'm loadin' up the Uzi. I got a couple M-16s, a couple 9s. I got a couple joints with some silencers on them. I'm just loading clips ..." While the analogy was not taken kindly by everyone, he backed up his words and led the Wolves with 32 points and 21 rebounds in an 83-80 victory. The Wolves however would lose to Lakers in the Western Conference Finals.
3. Andrew Brunette vs. Colorado Avalanche (2003): What do you get when you take a young team and combine them with a Hall-of-Fame coach? You get the 2003 Minnesota Wild. In just their 3rd year of existence the Wild over-achieved and finished with 95 points. They entered the playoffs against the veteran Colorado Avalanche, fell behind 3 games to 1 and never looked back. In Game 7 (in Colorado) the Wild scored the tying goal in the last 5 minutes, and then Andrew Brunette took the puck down the ice, made a juke and beat Patrick Roy for the most memorable goal in Wild history. The Wild would advance to the Conference Finals, beating the Canucks in similar fashion, before falling to the Ducks.
4. Lindsay Whalen and her Gophers (2004): The Gopher women were the definition of a terrible team, in a terrible town, with terrible fans, in a terrible stadium. Until they fired Cheryl Littlejohn and hired Brenda Oldfield. Oldfield turned the program around, left it in the hands of Pam Borton and the team gave Minnesota a wild ride in 2004. Moving from the Sports Pavilion to Williams Arena was just the start. The Women secured the #7 seed in the East Region but were lucky to have Williams host the first two rounds of the Tournament. After beating #10 UCLA they upset #2 Kansas State. Next was #3 Boston College and then #1 Duke. They met the eventual Champion Connecticut Huskies in the Final Four, losing by 8. The team has continued to be a consistent tournament team.
5. Grant Potulny vs. Maine (2002): On April 6, 2002 Minnesota Fans were treated to their first Championship of any kind since 1991. The Gopher hockey team, ranked #2 in the West region knocked off Colorado College and Michigan to face Maine in the final. After blowing a lead late in the Game, Grant Potulny, the only player not from Minnesota shot the puck and scored, giving the Gophers a 4-3 OT victory over Maine. Potulny was a member of the 2003 Championship team and is now an assistant coach with the team.
6. Torii Hunter vs. Jamie Burke (2004): After 8 losing season (1993-2000) the Twins started a streak of division championships. In 2004, their top competition came from the Chicago White Sox. On a late July night, Torii Hunter put an exclamation point on the season by running over Jamie Burke. The White Sox were upset with Hunter's collision decision at the plate, but the Twins took off and won the division by 9 games. That moment, was the unofficial change of power in the Central Division.
7. Brett Favre (2009): I saved it until here, but yes, Brett Favre coming to Minnesota is a huge sports story. After a semi-disgusting flirt between Favre and the Vikings, Favre decided to come out of retirement to suit up for the team that his former team hates. What would be better than a lifetime Packer leading the Vikings to the Super Bowl? Things started off nicely for the Vikings. Favre led them to a 6-0 record, a 10-1 record and now an 11-4 record. By winning in their finale, the Vikings will continue to improve 2 games every year under Brad Childress (6-10, 8-8, 10-6, 12-4?). This sports story still has an ending to write...
8. Vikings vs. Giants (2001): The Vikings were the #2 seed, beat the Saints in Round 2, and had the look of a Super Bowl team. That was until they faced the New York Giants in the NFC Championship. I remember it liked yesterday. The Giants scored on their opening drive and then BOOM, the Vikings fumbled the kick off. The Giants scored quickly, went up 14-0 and never looked back. It was one of those forgettable games. Randy Moss may have said it best, ""It's going to be hard for us to win a Super Bowl in Minnesota. I don't want to say Minnesota will never win a Super Bowl, but it is going to be hard." Maybe he was right.
9. Blake Hoffarber vs. Indiana (2008): Tubby Smith came to Minnesota and things changed from bad to good. Led by Tubby, the Gophers had won 18 games in his first season. The Gophers finished 6th in the Big Ten, beat Northwestern in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament and had a date with the Hoosiers in Round 2. Up 2 points with 4 seconds left the Gophers had hope. Eric Gordon had two free throws, missed the first and was forced to miss the second. He did, and DJ White beat the Gophers to the ball. He tipped it in somehow got fouled and had a chance to give Indiana the lead. He went on to miss his free throw, the Gophers grabbed the rebound called a timeout and history was about to be made. After the Timeout, little used Travis Busch heaved the ball down-court. Blake Hoffarber caught the ball with his off hand, turned and shot the ball. It went in and the Gophers beat the Hoosier. What a game. Big-Shot Blake was reborn.
10. Game 163 (2009): I did save this one for last, so I hope you're still reading. The most amazing game I have ever been to. Emotions were quickly changing as this game entered the late innings. In the Top of the Third, Miguel Cabrera put the Tigers ahead 3-0 on a 2 run HR off Scott Baker. The Twins played small ball, scored on an error and were down 3-1. Jason Kubel powered a HR to RF to cut into the lead. Then Orlando Cabrera sent the Metrodome into a frenzy. A HR to LF giving the Twins a 4-3 lead. Magglio Ordonez hit a game-tying HR in the 8th and then the game started.
Ninth Inning: Ramon Santiago dribbled a bunt down the 1B line, slid under Michael Cuddyer and was safe. Curtis Granderson singled to RF and PR Adam Everett took 3rd. Placido Polanco struck out looking and then the Metrodome went crazy again. Magglio lined a ball at Orlando Cabrera who somehow was able to catch Granderson leaning and doubled him off 1st.
Tenth Inning: Aubrey Huff was hit by a pitch. Don Kelley PR and scored from 1st on a Brandon Inge double. However, in the Bottom of the 10th, Michael Cuddyer hit a sinking liner that Ryan Raburn misplayed. Cuddyer ran to 3rd as the ball got by Granderson. Delmon Young grounded out and Brendan Harris was walked (Casilla pinch-ran). Matt Tolbert walked to the plate needing to just hit the ball deep to the OF to tie the game. He bounced it near 2nd and the ball got by Polanco. Twins tied the game and had Casilla at 3rd with only 1 out. Nick Punto came up, lined it to left, Rayburn caught the ball and was able to throw a lazy Casilla out at home.
Twelfth Inning: The Tigers loaded the bases in the inning against Bobby Keppel. Brandon Inge with his baggy jersey, leaned over the plate and took a pitch that hit his jersey. The Umpire didn't see it and he was not awarded 1B. On the next pitch he chopped on to Nick Punto who came home to get Miguel Cabrera on the force out. The next batter, Gerald Laird worked a full count. Now why anyone would not take a pitch against the wild Bobby Keppel is beyond me, but Laird swung through Ball 4 and the Twins had life. Carlos Gomez lined a single to lead off the inning. Michael Cuddyer grounded to 3rd but Gomez advanced. Young was walked, and he came Alexi Casilla. Casilla had big hits before but had been thrown out at home 2 innings earlier. Ground Ball.. Right Side... Base Hit... Twins win the Central. What a Game!
So there are my Top moments of the Decade. What're some of yours?