I don’t know about you guys, but with what was supposed to be Major League Baseball’s opening day taking place last week and the NBA and NHL beginning postseason play - not to mention missing all of March Madness - I’m missing Minnesota sports right now.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand why they’re gone for now. The health and safety of the athletes and fans is more important than any outcome, but I’m stuck at home and can’t enjoy the Twins - who were probably going to be pretty good this year - or the basketball and hockey playoffs. That’s not ideal.
But there are sports to watch if you have an internet connection. For no additional money, some of the greatest games in Minnesota sports history are available to watch, primarily on YouTube. Sure, there are no new games to watch, but if you want to relive some Minnesota glory days, this is your fix.
1987 World Series - Game 7
The state’s first pro sports championship in more than 30 years - really the first fully televised one, since only two games of the Minneapolis Lakers’ last championship series were televised since it was 1954 - and it was an absolute doozie.
The Twins won the first two games of the series before the St. Louis Cardinals claimed the next three and the Twins bounced back in game 6 (they won every home game and lost every road game). In game 7 - the 500th World Series game played - Twins pitcher Frank Viola shook off some jitters after giving up two early runs, and the Twins offense supported him as they managed a 4-2 win.
1991 World Series - Game 7
Here it is, arguably the greatest pitching performance of all time and it came from a Twin.
After being the worst team in the American League in 1990, the Twins found themselves back in the World Series, where they once again won every home game and lost every road game.
With the series tied 3-3 against the Atlanta Braves, it all came down to pitcher Jack Morris, who faced off against Braves legend John Smoltz in one of the better games ever played.
After nine innings, both starting pitchers had played all the way through and neither gave up a run. Morris refused to leave the game, pitching the 10th inning as well and retired the side.
Smoltz was pulled for the 10th inning, and Twins utility man Gene Larkin hit a single that drove in the game’s only run for the walkoff win.
Oct. 6, 2009 - “Game 163”
If this game didn’t feature the Twins at all, I would still want to recommend it.
The regular season ended, but the Twins and Detroit Tigers were tied for the AL Central Division lead. The only way to solve that is a one-game tiebreaker to see who makes the playoffs.
With the entire season on the line, the game went 12 innings. It also featured 12 hits and two home runs for each team.
The game ultimately ended with a walk-off base hit by Twins second-baseman Alexi Casilla and a 6-5 victory for the hometown team.
Naturally, the Twins were swept by the Yankees as soon as they got to the playoffs, but this is still a moment to savor.
Jan. 14, 2018 - “Minneapolis Miracle”
I’ve been a Vikings fan for about 25 years, and this game is easily the top highlight of that time for me.
Despite going 13-3 in the regular season and winning the division title, the Vikings entered the game feeling like underdogs against the 11-win New Orleans Saints. They were up 17-0 at halftime, then let the Saints come roaring back to take a 24-23 lead.
Still down by one with 10 seconds left in the game, quarterback Case Keenum found receiver Stefon Diggs by the sidelines, who found himself still upright after the Saints missed a tackle. He then ran the ball into the endzone as time expired.
The NFL ranked the “Minneapolis Miracle” ninth in its top 100 plays of all time. Believe me, if you somehow missed it, it’s worth a watch.
Jan. 5, 2020 - Vikings vs. Saints, wild card round
This is available on NFL Game Pass, which is free through the end of May.
Another fun one that saw the Vikes best the Saints, Minnesota was definitely the underdog in this matchup, but they snuck out of this game with an overtime win.
The Vikes were up 20-10 after three quarters, but gave up 10 points in the fourth. In the overtime period, the Vikings won the coin toss and marched down the field, eventually capping the game with a short touchdown pass to Kyle Rudolph.
May 19, 2004 - Wolves vs. Kings - Game 7
The Timberwolves have been around for 30-plus years, but they don’t have many really memorable games in their history. They have only been past the first round of the playoffs once, after all. Because of this, I’ll have to do some reaching.
This game, however, is truly the standout in team history.
With a trip to the conference finals on the line, the Wolves were carried by Kevin Garnett - who had 32 points and 21 rebounds - as they eliminated the Sacramento Kings 83-80.
Garnett jumping up on the announce table to celebrate the victory with the fans at Target Center remains, in my opinion, the most iconic moment in team history.
2003 NBA All-Star Game
Again, there aren’t a ton of big, meaningful games in the Wolves’ history, but this game was noteworthy for the performance of a certain Big Ticket.
Kevin Garnett almost single handedly carried this team to the playoffs for seven consecutive years, but in the 2003 All-Star Game he rattled off 37 points to earn the Wolves’ only All-Star Game MVP Award.
1994, 2015 and 2016 Slam Dunk Contests
I told you I would be reaching for the Wolves
One weird fact about the Wolves is that only the Knicks and Hawks have more slam dunk contest trophies.
It starts with Isaiah “J.R.” Rider, who promised on draft day he would win the competition, and he did just that with a between-the-legs dunk that is commonplace now, but was a big deal when he did it.
Then came Zach LaVine in 2015 and 2016. LaVine is easily one of the best dunkers the league has ever seen, and he showed that in both contests. The 2016 contest saw him match up against fellow super-dunker Aaron Gordon for one of the most entertaining contests in league history.
“Miracle on Ice” and beyond
Sorry to say I struggled to find Minnesota Wild games online. There are fun highlight videos of their playoff run in 2003, but that is about it.
But who needs that stuff when you have 1980 USA hockey games?
That’s right, the “Miracle on Ice” game against the Soviet Union is on Youtube in its entirety.
In perhaps the most iconic moment in the history of American sports, the young U.S. olympic hockey team - led by Gophers coach Herb Brooks and featuring 12 Minnesotans on the roster - absolutely stunned the Soviet Union team, which had been a powerhouse in two decades before, and even beat an NHL all-star team in a two-out-of-three exhibition series.
Yet this plucky team of skaters found a way, beating the overwhelmingly favored Soviet Union 4-3.
I feel like people tend to forget that game was not for the gold medal. Team USA had to come back and face Finland for the gold, which they won. Luckily for us, that game is online too.
That’s all I have, but there are some stellar games from the 2019 Gopher football season online and some of the Gopher basketball teams March Madness games from the 90s (which never happened, according to the NCAA). Heck, NASCAR is even airing simulated races. Is it the same as having live games to watch and talk about? No, but hopefully it helps you get your sports fill just a bit.