This past Monday morning started out like most other Monday mornings. After hitting the snooze a half dozen times and fending off a couple wicked elbows, I was up and at it, wiping the weekend out of my eyes. My wife had talked me into buying our two Pomeranians by committing to morning and winter dog duties. As I fumbled for my glasses, the pups waited anxiously for me at the door, a five-year routine we started five days after their adoption. I pick my battles. I'll cash in my super-husband points throughout the fantasy football season. After overfilling my cup of coffee, we were out the door.
I immediately noticed that something was different. To my delight, there was a cool bite to the air. I knew it all too well; I'd missed it. For a brief moment, I let my mind drift back a decade to the days of pep rallies and post routes. I quickly have to remind myself that, as a washed up 28-year old, my morning conditioning now consists of chasing my dog, who's chasing my other dog, who's chasing a rabbit through the woods. It's a pathetic existence. I'm sure you can relate. But I digress - back to that crisp morning chill. Like a double rainbow, it signifies something much bigger to me. What does it mean? Simple. It represents the culmination of a long baseball season intersecting with a promising new football season. Fellow sports fans, welcome to the most wonderful time of the year.
I'd be hard-pressed to recall an autumn that had more hope attached to it than the one we're entering. Our Twins are pulling away down the stretch, and for the first time under Ron Gardenhire's management, they have a realistic chance of advancing past the Yankees and making a serious World Series run. After losing 12 straight to the Bronx Bombers, they've split their last four, and this time around they have the offensive firepower to compete. Just down the road, the Vikings are returning all 22 starters from a final four squad. They're on the short list of Super Bowl contenders, and Brett Favre has reignited the locker room and the fan base. I can confidently say in mid-August that Minnesota has two legitimate title contenders, and their paths are overlapping right before us. But it's even more than that. It's the new stadium and the old quarterback. It's the hometown hero and the Metrodome magic. It's the unfamiliar national spotlight, and the seemingly never-ending optimism for "next year" giving way to "it's our time." Yes, the stars are aligning, and for once, other cities envy us. If just for one year, we're like... like... Boston.
Don't take this for granted, Minnesota. Make this fall about friends and family, beers and brats, and the teams that we love. Take some time to soak it in. Take some time to make some memories. Opportunities like this don't come often enough for us; we have to make them last. Sub-zero temperatures, and worse, mediocrity, are always right around the corner.