MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The year 2001 was by no means a normal one for Minnesota sports. But maybe that's a paradox.
It's possible that a placid 12 months on this state's athletics scene is, well, impossible.
Where do we start?
The Twins, while being one of baseball's top two targets for elimination, are finishing this year not knowing if they'll be a team next season.
Meanwhile, it was uncertain at times whether the Vikings really qualified as an actual team this year.
Anyway, with all due respect to the great humorist Dave Barry, here's an irreverent look back at all that happened, at least as well as we can remember it. Let's start with the now, working backward to the beginning of this crazy year.
Dec. 25 -- Twins owner Carl Pohlad, opening gifts with his family, wishes he could have a baseball team for Christmas. Hours later, he realizes he already has one and wants to get rid of it.
Dec. 24 -- Alabama businessman Donald Watkins makes official his plan to bid for Pohlad's Minnesota Twins, widely believed to be one of two teams baseball has targeted for contraction. Author Tom Clancy, wearing tinted glasses, calls up Vikings owner Red McCombs, inquiring about the team's availability and wonders if Red has any '89 Thunderbirds for sale down in Texas.
Dec. 23 -- Hall of Fame-bound wide receiver Cris Carter plays what was probably his final game in the Metrodome for the Minnesota Vikings -- an embarrassing 33-3 loss to one of the NFL's mavens of mediocrity, the Jacksonville Jaguars. The other half of Minnesota's talented tandem of wideouts, Randy Moss, runs a seam route at full speed.
Dec. 14 -- The University of Minnesota reveals a sports budget shortfall of $31 million over the next five years. Football coach Glen Mason, scrambling to help his bosses cut costs, suggests eliminating his Tuesday luncheons with the media.
Dec. 4 -- The Minnesota men's basketball team, widely believed to be the Golden Gophers, loses 58-50 in Williams Arena to the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Former coach Clem Haskins, scrambling to help his former bosses cut costs, suggests that payments to players not be allowed.
Nov. 6 -- Major League Baseball's commissioner, widely believed to be Allan "Bud" Selig, announces the game's intent to eliminate two teams but does not reveal them. Randy Moss, Selig's acting assistant commissioner, says, "we'll announce them when we want to announce them."
Oct. 14 -- Tom Kelly, who used to wear tinted glasses, announces he's done managing the Twins and reveals he plans to take retirement "one day at a time."
Oct. 8 -- Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Terrell Brandon says he wouldn't mind coming off the bench in 2002-03 to let the younger guys play more.
Oct. 7 -- A baseball team, widely believed to be the Minnesota Twins, beats the Chicago White Sox 8-5 and secures second place in the American League Central on the final day of the regular season. Terrell Brandon, now a Twins fan, says he wouldn't mind seeing the Twins finish second again next year so the other teams can have a chance to win.
September -- Discussing the NFL's possible scenarios for making up a week lost to terrorist attacks, Minnesota Vikings coach Dennis Green insists he isn't concerned about how many teams the playoff field consists of. "We don't care if it's two teams. We'll be there," Green says.
July 25 -- Randy Moss signs an eight-year, $75 million contract extension that makes him the highest-paid non-quarterback in the league. With the papers in front of him and pen in hand, Moss pauses for several seconds and is asked by owner Red McCombs why he's hesitating. "I sign when I want to sign," Moss replies.
May 14 -- Women's basketball coach Cheryl Littlejohn is fired for a pattern of rule-breaking that included improper benefits to players. The university's investigation found Littlejohn gave money to a player, bought clothing for others and interfered with an earlier investigation by telling players to lie. Former men's basketball coach Clem Haskins receives a $1 million buyout for the firing of Littlejohn.
April 30 -- A baseball team, widely believed to be the Minnesota Twins, finishes the first month of the season 18-6 and on top of the AL Central.
March 1 -- With an eye toward the future, the Minnesota Wild trade left wing Scott Pellerin to the Carolina Hurricanes for left wing Askhat Rakhmatullin, a third-round selection in the 2001 draft and future considerations. Rakhmatullin is returned to the Hurricanes when Randy Moss, moonlighting for the Wild sewing jerseys, decides he doesn't want to spell a name that long.
Feb. 7 -- Robert Smith unexpectedly hangs up his football helmet. Through his telescope, he sees trouble ahead for his now-former team.
Jan. 14 -- The Minnesota Vikings lose in the NFC championship game, 41-0 to the New York Giants. Coach Dennis Green reaffirms his team's commitment to community service. The entire Vikings secondary is later awarded a goodwill award from the NFL.
Jan. 1 -- The Timberwolves ring in the New Year with a 106-96 victory over the Houston Rockets. Terrell Brandon says he wouldn't mind giving up his salary in 2002-03 to let the younger guys have more.
My head is spinning.
Let's hope for a less-eventful 2002.
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