Becoming a Minnesota Wild Fan – Pt. 1

I was born a Detroit Red Wings fan. “Fan” is putting it loosely – half of my family is from the U.P. (Michigan’s Upper Peninsula) so I was born into it.

I grew up in Wisconsin, though, and still live here. Catching Red Wings games on TV is pretty rare. And even when the game was on NBC Sports, I’d tune in maybe 50 percent of the time. I enjoy hockey, but am the definition of a casual fan – watch a few prime time games during the regular season and then most of the playoffs and Stanley Cup finals.

At the beginning of each season I’d tell myself this was the year I’d get fully invested. A few weeks in I’d fall off. Lack of effort, a lot of games, etc. etc. I have plenty of excuses. Outside of game recap push notifications from ESPN, I am pretty blind to what’s going on (and as I’m writing this, ESPN notified me the Red Wings have been eliminated from playoff contention. Sad!).

Enter Phil and Jeff. Minnesota Wild fans.

In 2016 they took a road trip from our Wisconsin home town to the Xcel Energy Center (New Fact Number 1!) to watch a game in person. They had a blast and filled me in on all the details (which I’ll save for another time). I wanted in. I wanted a Zach Parise jersey. And I wanted to be able to cheer for a team that I could see whenever I wanted (we get a lot of the Wild games on TV in Wisconsin).

So, that’s where we are today. I watched the Red Wings beat the Wild on Sunday, which seemed to be a good spot to begin the transition. I’ll still have a soft spot for the Red Wings – and some regret for not making it to a game at the Joe before its closing. And the Red Wings puck I got as a kid will always live on in my memorabilia collection. But now, it will be behind the Wild gear.

Cheering for a Minnesota Team in Wisconsin

Most of us around here have a disdain for our close rivals. Chicago Bears in football, St. Louis Cardinals/Chicago Cubs in baseball (those probably more out of jealousy), and I guess the Bulls in basketball (Go Bucks).

So while many of my friends and college peers jumped on the Chicago Blackhawks bandwagon when they got hot, it would have been impossible for me to do the same. Call it being a dumb sports fan, but it’s one of those things that die-hards know exist in their hearts.

This will be my first foray into cheering for anything Minnesota. It doesn’t feel dirty to me as a Wisconsinite – I think that most of us, especially if we’ve visited the state – have an appreciation for Minnesota. But with no hometown hockey team (outside of the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals, a team that I do enjoy), it’s easier to disconnect from the usual state boundaries that mark our fandom.

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The New (To Me) Facts

Let’s get to it! Here are some things I didn’t know before I started researching my new team:

  1. The Dallas Stars used to be the Minnesota North Stars (I know this may seem obvious to you, but apparently the change happened in 1993, when I was 2. I do have a recollection of this… but you’re going to have to give me some breaks here).
  2. The new Minnesota team started play in the 2000-2001 season
  3. We (I’m using we now – I’m all in) clinched our first Northwest Division title in 2008 (Eat it, Avalanche)
  4. Wow, the Wild are currently second behind the Blackhawks in the standings. I feel like a bandwagon jumper for getting on now – but I literally just learned this fact. Doesn’t count.

There are a lot more minor things I’m picking up from the Wiki page. And I’ve followed the Wild Twitter account, some fan pages, and subscribed to the Wild subreddit. So here goes nothing. Follow along for Part 2 and onward as I become a Minnesota Wild fan.

Podcast Review: S-Town / Chapter 2 (Spoilers)

Spoilers ahead for S-Town, Chapter 2

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John McLemore

In Chapter 2, Brian shares a surprising twist after talking with John’s alleged suspect: There was no murder.

It was surprising because in just the second episode, the assumed plot line of the series comes to an end. When Brian shares the news with John, he sounds depressed.

“A clusterfuck of sorrow,” John says, while laughing in a sad tone.

After the revelation, the scope of the series changes. We realize that the podcast is now going to be about John himself. An outsider in Shit Town, Alabama.

“You know… I’m not the most cheerful person…” John says, while musing on the problems of climate change. Brian shares the tangents John goes off on – typhoons in the Philippines, floods in Pakistan, fallout from the Ebola outbreak, and Fukushima. We get a sense of the way John’s brain works – intelligent but scattered, and very likely troubled.

Brian shares his thoughts on John’s obsessions. “The connection is deeper than [everything being shitty]. He’s distressed by the lack of outrage compared to the amount of shittiness in the world. To him, the ratio is completely out of whack.”

John is bothered by the fact the people of S-Town assumed the murder was true but did nothing about it. His mindset is completely different than the people who live around him with a sense of disinterest. John wants to live a different way – helping others, donating money, and changing the life of Tyler Goodson.

We met Tyler in Chapter 1, tooling around on John’s property. He has a very difficult life, and John thinks he can fix it. John also slips in a comment that Tyler will receive 20 ounces of gold when John dies – that is, if the cops don’t steal it first.

The comment is the first hint as to how Chapter 2 ends: John kills himself.

Podcast Review: S-Town / Chapter 1

S-Town, a new podcast by the creators of Serial and This American Life, debuted today with all seven chapters released simultaneously.

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CHAPTER 1

Chapter 1 introduces us to the host, Brian Reed, and the man who was the basis for the podcast, John McLemore. John called Brian in 2013 to share a story about a potential murder in his small Alabama town (or “Shit Town”) and convinced Brian to dive into it.

Brian ends up visiting John in Chapter 1, learning about his quirks (and there are a ton) and discovering his “hatred” for his hometown. John is a quotable man, referring to his high school as “Auschwitz”, a building that “looks like Nosferatu”, and much more. He lives with his elderly mother and speaks like the free-spirit-stuck-in-a-small-town that he is.

We learn that John believes a murder was committed by a member of a prominent local family and ultimately covered up. He hopes that Brian, with his investigative reporting skills, can unearth the true story.

However in this episode, Brian begins to question if there’s really a story to dig up. John – between all of his unique traits and talents (like building an elaborate garden maze), is surprisingly noncommittal when they get down to scrubbing for details.

Maze Google Maps
John’s Garden Maze in Alabama

We meet Skylar, the wife of a man with potential information about the murder. Brian asks if she has any information.

“He straight up told us that he killed him – cold blooded murdered him!” Skylar said. The accused murderer claimed self-defense and chargers were dropped, according to her.

“This town has a way of forgetting information and hiding information. If somebody don’t want people to know about it, then it won’t be there,” says Skylar, when Brian asks why none of the events made it into the newspapers.

Brian finally feels that he has a lead. The episode ends, ultimately serving as the background for the entire series, our launching point into the rest of the investigation.

Read our Chapter 2 Review & Recap Here: http://wp.me/p8xFU3-23

Sweet Sixteen – Day 2

Friday night’s games are headlined by UCLA/UK, obviously. But Badgers vs. Gators should be a close second, featuring a Florida team that’s gaining strength as it advances and Bucky always finding a way to hang around until the end.

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Lines as of 3/23 11:30pm
Butler/UNC (-7)
South Carolina/Baylor (-3.5)
UCLA/Kentucky (-1)
Wisconsin/Florida (-1.5)

Liking UNC to cover, UCLA at +1, and Wisconsin to win SU against Florida. Why?

Bo Ryan > Billy Donovan. Wait, that’s not it.

This Badgers team has the March Madness Magic. Experience helps at this stage, and Wisconsin’s got a lot of it. And this shit’s getting published now – as Xavier upsets Zona – giving us a last reminder that you can’t predict any of it.

“PLEASE!” PARLAY:
Have been throwing together a parlay of each day’s games

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Sweet Sixteen – Day 1

Arizona and Lauri Markkanen look to take down Xavier to advance to the Elite Eight

Oregon just held on to beat the almost-Cinderella Michigan Wolverines, and West Virginia/Gonzaga is back and forth a minute left to play. Purdue/Kansas is tight in the first half, and Xavier/Arizona is less than half hour out. It’s the greatest time of the year.

Xavier/Arizona Quick Thoughts

The line sits at Arizona -8 with over/under at 145. Arizona likely has no trouble ending Xavier’s run with a Musketeers defense that does not match up with 19-year-old Finn Lauri Markkanen.

Lauri

The stud freshman has impressed this season and in this tournament, “averaging 15.8 points and 7.2 rebounds while shooting just under 50 percent from the floor and an impressive 43.3 percent from three-point range.”

Additionally, tonight’s game is in San Jose, giving the Wildcats the crowd advantage verse Ohio-based Xavier.

With not much value on Arizona moneyline, tonight’s pick is Arizona Wildcats -8. Look for late fouls and free throws to push the number towards eight.