September 20, 2006

The Hex: Every sports city has a city that antagonizes them. Tigers' fans worst nightmare is on their tails.

When Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS was complete, the Boston Red Sox had overcome a long, tough history against the city that had long had the hex on them. Between the well-known record of the Yankees success against them, not to mention the salt-rubbing in 1986 courtesy of the Mets, it had been a long time coming for Boston fans to finally best New York. But from there, little did anyone realize that the World Series was practically a foregone conclusion. Why? Because as much trouble as New York has given Boston in the sports world, Boston has had a similar hex on St. Louis. A look at the history books shows the following: Eleven years after their founding, the NBA Celtics won their first title in 1957, beating the St. Louis Hawks. The NHL Bruins broke a 29-year dry spell when they won the Stanley Cup in 1970, beating the St. Louis Blues. The New England Patriots won their first Super Bowl in 2001, beating the St. Louis Rams. So naturally, it was clear that if the Boston Red Sox were going to end their long World Series drought, the St. Louis Cardinals were just the team to cure their ills. Four games later, the misery was over. Most sports fans in various cities have some city that always manages to one-up them. In Minnesota, local fans can probably readily name the city that has given the Twin Cities the most annoyance in the sports world without much thought at all: Dallas. The 1975 Vikings, considered by many to be the best of their teams in the 1970’s was victimized by the infamous “Hail Mary” pass, sending the Cowboys on the road to the Super Bowl, sending the Vikings home, and giving the NFL a great video to show to officials-in-training when teaching them what offensive pass interference looks like. About a decade and a half later, the Vikings acquired Herschel Walker from the Cowboys, supposedly the last piece of their Super Bowl puzzle, in exchange for several players, draft picks, and future rights to three Super Bowls. The Vikings' Super Bowl dreams never materialized with Walker. A few years after that, while the Cowboys were still winning Super Bowls with the haul from that trade, things got worse for Minnesota sports fans as the State of Hockey lost their pro hockey team to - of all places - Dallas.. However, whenever sports fans in Minnesota need relief from whatever misery has been laid on them by Dallas, their destination is equally apparent: Detroit. For one, local fans can always pencil in at least one win against the Lions each year, no matter how good or bad each team is. The Vikings are 58-29-2 all-time against the Lions, a staggering 2-to-1 ratio of wins to losses. Even during the miserable year of Les Steckel’s regime, the Vikings got one of their three wins against the Lions. Or for a more recent example, consider that the Lions never defeated a Vikings team coached by the coaching genius known as Mike Tice. Mike Tice! This includes a game in 2004 where the Lions staged a late comeback, only to lose by botching an extra point. In baseball, one only has to think back to 1987, when a muscular and talented Detroit Tigers team, which won 98 games during the regular season faced the 85-win Minnesota Twins, a team that would have finished fifth in the Tigers’ division. Detroit had dominated the Twins during the regular season, but when the dust cleared in the ALCS, the Twins outplayed Detroit decisively in every phase of the game in a 4 games to 1 rout. More recently, during the Twins’ run of AL Central titles, the Tigers were their favorite whipping boys. This brings us to today, where we are watching a Twins team that was 10.5 games behind the Tigers in the AL Central just a month and a half ago play a ballgame which could see them leading the division at the end of it. At the start of August, one might have thought it nearly impossible. But considering the history, one might wonder if it wasn’t inevitable.

posted by TheQatarian to commentary at 04:20 PM - 0 comments

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