For sports fans, the agony of the summer abyss could not be more real. The slow descent into the dank cave of boredom is so gradual that when basketball and hockey crown champions in mid-June, their leagues’ instant disappearance leaves us stunned and paralyzed with nothing to keep us company but our own sad and lonely echoes.
While the drudging hiatus between NBA/NHL action and the dawning of another football season can be draining, there are indeed two leagues in the throes of battle: the MLB and WNBA.
In this instance, Minnesota fans are lucky — a sentiment rarely expressed — to have both a baseball and women’s basketball team. Therefore, our mid-summer sports landscape when compared to a place like, say, Omaha, is a little less grindingly lonely.
Let’s say, however, that for purposes of this columnist’s argument you could only commit your fragile Twin Cities sports psyche to one franchise. On whom do you spend your time and money? The Twins or the Lynx?
Before we examine the favorable viewing qualities of each squad, it could be argued that a physical sporting match between the two might also be fascinating. But what sport? Basketball is a lock. Baseball, however, given the Twins’ embarrassing futility and the athletic prowess of the Lynx, could perhaps prove competitive. (Yes, I’m joking. Please hold all gender-related hate mail.) Maybe tennis or bowling?
Anyway, as regards their watchability, the first thing you notice is how one team consistently wins and the other… well… doesn’t. Champions in three of the last five seasons, the Lynx remain one of the best teams in the WNBA with stars like Maya Moore, Seimone Augustus, and Lindsay Whalen.
On the other hand, the Twins — despite playing in the comfort of a state-of-the-art, half-billion dollar stadium — can’t get themselves out of the basement. Challenging the league’s bottom-feeders for the worst record in baseball, the Paul Molitor-led club has allowed more runs than any other American League squad. Wait, what’s that sound? Another home run given up by the Minnesota pitching staff? (I hope you die-hard Twins fans have a sense of humor.)
Wins, however, can’t be the only variable in this equation. One thing the Twins have over their Lynx sisters — indeed, through no cunning of their own — is their new digs. It’s a joy to watch a ballgame at Target Field. The atmosphere is second to none, and, when the weather holds, there’s little better than enjoying a hot dog while taking in some midsummer action.
Target Center, on the other hand, fails to match the luster of its northern neighbor due solely to its devastating indoorsiness (yes, I make up words when appropriate). The quality of product being viewed cannot be questioned; however, there is something just right about the combination of August sunshine and outdoor baseball.
That said, I’m not sure it’s enough to topple the Lynx as being the more worthy watch. In the end, I ask myself this: which team deserves my patronage more? To this question, there is little debate.
Of course, despite my journalistic caveat, a fan needn’t actually select one franchise over another. They are not mutually exclusive. I would, however, like to urge Minnesota sporting enthusiasts to give the Lynx a look. They’re a fun team to watch, and, despite their lack of court-covered sunshine, they are poised to make another deep run toward the championship.
By Jacob Westlin