Regardless of which category you fall into, you likely want nothing more than to see your team on top at the end of the year. But what does that mean for fans? We’re not the ones hoisting the trophy at the end of the year. We don’t get a beautiful shiny ring to wear for the rest of our lives. We don’t get to share in the financial incentive of winning it all or the endorsements to follow.
As fans we’re left with some of the best memories of our lives and stories to share for decades about where we were and what we were doing the night they won it all. We hang memorabilia in our homes and talk about these moments to anyone and everyone who’s willing to listen to us.
We celebrate with other fans at packed bars, we flock in the millions to attend a parade where we can, for a brief moment in time, feel like we too are in some way part of this special moment. Eventually those moments fade to memories.
All of this begs the question of whether or not winning a championship in 2020 would “feel” the same from a fan perspective. This is not about whether there will be an asterisk next to the championship or if it will be deemed illegitimate. This is a discussion of the fan experience and what winning a championship will feel like in 2020.
In the midst of a global pandemic, in which our lives have been flipped upside down and seemingly everything we enjoy in life has been taken away from us, it’s hard to argue that the fan experience of winning a championship in 2020 will be significantly different than at any other point in history.
When the Red Sox finally broke the curse and won the World Series in 2004, it was absolute pandemonium in the streets of Boston. In 2016, the Chicago Cubs ended their 108-year World Series drought and the scene outside iconic Wrigley Field was incredible. The pain of 108 years was lifted and the people of Chicago celebrated together in a night they will not soon forget. In 2010, the San Francisco Giants won their first title in 52 years since moving to the city by the Bay. Nearly five million people showed up to the parade to share that moment with the team they spent the last seven months cheering for.
None of those moments will exist in 2020. There will be no blissful celebrations on the city streets, there will be no parade to cap off an incredible journey and we won’t be able to celebrate with strangers in a packed bar, nor be in the stands when the confetti falls. We will be watching from home isolated from others and left to cherish the moment on our own.
Perhaps for a fanbase that has become accustomed to winning championships, the absence of these moments won’t hurt as much. Whereas for a fanbase like Minnesota, Cleveland, Milwaukee, San Diego or Los Angeles who haven’t seen their team win in 30 plus years, or ever in franchise history, the absence of the blissfully joyful moments will certainly be felt.
We got our first glimpse of what this might feel like when Nelson Cruz hit the walk-off double against Pittsburgh. The celebration left much to be desired. Cruz wasn’t mobbed by his teammates at second base. There was no explosion of cheers from the crowd as the ball sailed over the center fielders’ head. We certainly cheered at home, the excitement was there but it was different. Even Nelson Cruz described it as “boring”.
There’s certainly nothing boring about winning a championship, regardless of the circumstances. However, as a Minnesota sports fan, you have waited 29 years for this to happen, and for some of you that’s longer than you’ve been alive.
For those who were alive and remember 1987 and 1991 I’m sure 2020 will feel much different for you. If you had not yet been born, or were too young to experience those title years this would be your first experience with a Minnesota sports team winning a championship.
This is by no means to say the Twins should not win or we as fans should root against them. That’s asinine and goes against the very reason we watch and enjoy sports. If the 2020 Minnesota Twins do in fact win the World Series it will be a special moment that will bring joy to many but the overall experience of the journey, and the moment in which they clinch it will be very subdued.
It’s possible we could still get a parade. Maybe it’s delayed until the winter and we line the streets of downtown Minneapolis as we ring in 2021. Perhaps we will join our friends through Zoom video chats and celebrate together virtually. If we are blessed with a championship in 2020 we will certainly still celebrate it but the experiences won’t be the same.
For Minnesota sports fans who have waited nearly three decades to celebrate a championship, will a 2020 title leave something to be desired?
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