The Wide Angle: Hungry like the wolf?

Published 7:56 pm Tuesday, February 20, 2024

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For the sake of continuing to foster a strong relationship with the woman who agreed (amazingly) to share her life with me, I decided a long time back not to be overtly triggered by sports on a professional or collegiate level any more.

The decision was also partly governed by the realization that it was doubtful Kirk Cousins listened to my expert, armchair observations of his decision-making skills.

Heck, I’m not even sure he could hear me.

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At one time, I was a pretty legitimate fan of pro and college sports, using up my Sundays to watch the Vikings not win a Super Bowl, my week-day nights watching the Wild not win a Stanley Cup and spending my Saturday afternoons watching the Twins not win a World Series.

Obviously, because neither seemed capable of reaching that championship level of athletic endeavor.

Nevertheless, I was enough of an ardent fan that losses and bad plays would sufficiently irritate me to the point where hands would get slapped on the couch and utterance of words not meant for this column would be invoked when a professional would make what I thought to be a rookie mistake.

Keep in mind, this was just sports triggering me. Taylor Swift was still singing country music.

It’s not that I have dropped sports completely, but I decided for the benefit of all in the household that I stopped getting so wrapped up in the sporting world to the point of irritation.

If something happened that made me mad, I would simply turn the TV off and go about my day doing something different: going for a walk, working in the garden, homebrewing and on and on and on.

It added to a more peaceful existence and then something weird started happening last year — the Timberwolves started getting good. Not just good, but something akin to respectable and now, just a couple days removed from the 2024 All-Star Game, they are in first place in the Western Conference.

I asked Jason Brandt, of KAUS fame, at a fairly recent City Council meeting if at this point he thought that the Wolves would be carrying the banner for professional sports in Minnesota. He gave a resounding, “no.”

I agreed with him, but the truly odd thing is that the Wolves have never really been on my mind over the previous years and that’s probably because I have to finally admit to myself and others — I’m a fair-weather fan.

The Wolves excelled at losing and so my interest wasn’t really there. Not enough to truly care, but then they started winning and as a result I started to become more curious about what was happening.

That curiosity carried over to this year, especially after the Vikings hopes of any playoff success started plunging and the Wild, well, were being the Wild.

However, perhaps more curious than that has been the fact that basketball has never been my sport. When you have gone through junior high and high school living a life where the basketball was bigger than one’s head, it’s hard to get fired up about the sport.

Sure, I ran around imagining the draining of a clutch three-pointer, launched from a perfect form reserved only for Danny Ainge, but the fact of matter is I’m a little surprised nobody called me the gunslinger.

Not because I was deadly with the “J,” but because in order to get the shot off from any real distance, I had to launch it from the hip and unlike Billy the Kid, there was very little chance I would hit the mark.

I was a baseball guy, not a basketball guy, and ye, here I am finding myself curious about what the Wolves might be able to do with a season and finding it oddly entertaining to dedicate a night to watching a game.

But, deep down inside, I’m still counseling myself on getting too attached or invested, remembering the irritants that came with Minnesota’s other cadre of tripping-over-the-line pro sports teams.

At the end of the day, the Wolves are from Minnesota and with that comes a certain lowering of the bar of expectations. I absolutely am not guaranteeing a deep run in the playoffs or even a championship.

I’m just entertaining the idea that the Wolves are a nice story devoid of any real attachment. It’s much more satisfying knowing that I can watch a game fresh in the knowledge that there is the nightly marathon of Guy’s Grocery Games just two channels over.