The Brewers have been in existence nearly as long (41 years) as the Vikings (49 years). Yet, for the most part, I do not see the same fatalism and angst from Brewer fans, even though the Brewers have the second-longest drought among all baseball teams who have never won a World Series. Perhaps this is due to the difference in Upper Midwestern passion for baseball and football. Perhaps this is from the smaller Brewer fan base. Perhaps this is from the lack of heartbreaking losses that Brewer fans have experienced.
Whatever the reasons, Minnesota fans like me, plus long-suffering Brewer fans, can at least be thankful we are not from a fandom even more deserving of sympathy than ours: Cleveland sports fans. The pro sports teams of Cleveland have not won a championship since the Browns’ NFL title in 1964 – two seasons before the “modern” era of the Super Bowl. On top of their 46-year drought, the city has had to endure stomach-punch losses by the Browns (The Drive and The Byner Fumble in the mid-80s), the abandonment of the Cavaliers by LeBron James (and the loss of his ex-team’s best chance at a championship), and the postseason futility of the Indians, including a World Series Game 7 they gave away in the bottom of the 9th to an expansion team from Florida.
We Wisconsin and Minnesota fans look at that track record and realize our collective situation is not so bad. Wisconsin fans have Packer Super Bowl wins, and even a Bucks title in the early 70s. Minnesota fans have the Twins’ wins in 1987 and 1991. Our college hockey teams have won it all in the last decade. For that matter, the Twins pushed back against my fatalism the other night with an extra inning win following a late blown lead that I assumed would lead to a loss (and what happens when you assume?).
Life as a Minnesota sports fan will, barring a sea change in the rate of success, likely remain difficult. I occasionally envy the Wisconsin sports fan, though I should know better. Relatively speaking, I’m doing fine. As the Red Sox showed, hope is always present. Even for the Vikings. A bit.