Most "Binge-Worthy" Seasons in Minnesota Sports History

Please Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

What are you binge-watching right now? The Office? The Wire? Game of Thrones?

Social distancing has us taking full advantage of our subscription services, but it also has sports leagues like the NFL and NBA making their “Game Pass” or “League Pass” services free of charge, which means you can binge-watch sports!

Now, it’s probably easier to watch nine consecutive episodes of New Girl than it is to watch the entire 2009 Vikings season back-to-back — especially the ending — but it still leads to the question:

What is each Minnesota sports team’s most “binge-worthy” season?

We asked our staff to pick a season from the team they cover, and here’s what they came up with:

Minnesota Vikings: 1998

As if there was any doubt, the most binge-worthy Vikings season occurred in 1998, and there’s no close second.

First-round rookie Randy Moss took the NFL by storm. Veteran backup Randall Cunningham resurrected his career as he and Moss reinvented the deep ball, connecting for a league-leading 17 touchdowns. Add in Cris Carter, Jake Reed and Robert Smith, and the Vikings assembled the most potent offense history up to that point. Minnesota became the highest-scoring unit of all time and became the third team in history to finish the regular season 15-1. Including their playoff victory over Arizona, they won exactly half their games by 20-plus points.

The magical season came to a stunning end, however, in the NFC Championship Game when Gary Anderson missed a game-clinching field goal, his first of the year, and the Atlanta Falcons upset the Vikings in overtime. Some might say Minnesota sports fans have never gotten over it.

– Sam Ekstrom

Minnesota Twins: 2006

I’d honestly take the 2006 Minnesota Twins. The 1987 Twins weren’t bingeable at all — they were only eight games over .500 — and the 1991 team was two years before I even began watching.

The 2006 team started off poorly, with a 25-33 record through their first 58 games — then went on to win 21 of their next 23 games to cruise to 46-35. I haven’t seen a more dominant stretch from a Twins team in my lifetime, and maybe the best game of all was Francisco Liriano — who was unhittable until he got hurt late that season — outdueling Roger Clemens 4-2 in Houston on June 22. Sure, Liriano got hurt, Brad Radke‘s arm almost fell off and the Twins lost to the A’s in the playoffs, but a huge part of the destination is the ride there.

The 2006 season was a blast as a season-ticket holder — and that’s why it’s the Twins season I’d most like to binge-watch.

– Brandon Warne

Minnesota Timberwolves: 2003-04

It’s 2012-13. Luke Ridnour led the team in minutes played and the Wolves won 30-plus games for the first time in six sea… just kidding.

Can you imagine if my answer was anything other than the 2003-04 season? When Kevin Garnett became the first and only player in franchise history to win the NBA’s MVP award? When K.G.’s Wolves — also highlighted by Sam Cassell and Latrell Sprewell, and complimented by greats like Trenton Hassell, Wally Szczerbiak, Troy Hudson and Mark Madsen, among others — won 58 games, seven more than any Wolves team has mustered to date? When the Big Ticket had an all-time performance in Game 7 against the Kings to earn this organization its lone conference finals appearance?

They won 10 playoff games during the spring of ‘04; throughout 29 other NBA seasons, the Wolves have totaled eight playoff wins. To me, it’s the most binge-worthy season in team history, and — if you have access to FSN — you may not need to wait long to relive some part of it.

– Charlie Johnson

Minnesota WILD: 2016-17

The most binge-worthy Wild season came just a few years ago in 2016-17. This was Bruce Boudreau’s first season behind the Wild bench and also marked the debut of Eric Staal in a Minnesota Wild uniform.

You may recall before that season, Boudreau said the Wild would need until about December before they were firing on all cylinders that season and oh boy was he right. The Wild won 12 games in a row that month, and went on to have a franchise-best 106 points — finishing second in the Central Division. Five Wild players had 50-plus points that season in an all-time franchise mark for goal scoring in one year.

– Giles Ferrell

Minnesota United: 2019

Sure, there’s probably some recency bias involved in this selection, but it’s hard to argue against the inaugural season of Allianz Field, a run to the U.S. Open Cup final and the Loons’ first MLS Playoff appearance in history being the most binge-worthy campaign in the franchise’s short top-tier tenure.

The 2019 season served as the “prove it” campaign in head coach Adrian Heath’s three-year plan, and with the money spent to complement their attacking prowess with a capable back line, the pieces were in place to fulfill that plan.

Even so, I don’t think anyone could have predicted the amount of success Minnesota achieved last year.

Whether it was 19,000 people belting Oasis’ “Wonderwall” following the squad’s first Allianz Field win over Wayne Rooney’s DC United (and every home win thereafter), goalkeeper Vito Mannone stopping a penalty kick late in stoppage time to secure a big late-season win over FC Dallas or Hassani Dotson’s late goal to secure their playoff spot, 2019 was full of excruciatingly close games and plenty of exciting moments to pay off the suspense.

– Jeremy Rushing

Minnesota Lynx: 2017

There have been multiple seasons throughout Minnesota Lynx history that would be worth going back and binge-watching, but one season that stands out from the rest of them to me is 2017.

The Lynx entered the 2017 campaign with the mission of getting revenge and trying to get back to the WNBA Finals after falling to the Los Angeles Sparks in five games the year prior. Minnesota was dominant throughout the regular season, finishing the year with a league-best record of 27-7 overall. The Lynx grabbed the top seed in the playoffs, ultimately making a return to the Finals for a rematch with the Sparks.

After falling behind 2-1 in the series, the Lynx went to Los Angeles and evened the series before returning back home — at the time, to Williams Arena — to claim their fourth WNBA title in seven years and tying the Houston Comets for the most titles by an organization in league history.

That 2017 Lynx season will go down as one of the top and most memorable in franchise history.

– Mitchell Hansen

Minnesota Golden Gopher Football: 2019

Gopher football fans, you’re in luck if you want a bingeable season for your favorite team. No, you’re not going to need film reels and no, it won’t be 15 seconds of grainy content of the team playing back on Northrop Field without helmets and the forward pass.

The most bingeable Minnesota football season? How about 2019, of course!

This isn’t just recency bias speaking; it was objectively the Gophers’ most statistically successful season. Yes, they have won national championships and they didn’t even win the Big Ten Championship this season either, but to get through it all with many ups and few downs while setting program records along the way makes it very special.

Most wins in program history, high-scoring games, nail-biting games and individual player career records all in one season makes this the most bingeable season yet for Gophers’ football.

– Drew Cove

Minnesota Golden Gopher Basketball: 1996-97

Even though this season never officially existed thanks to NCAA sanctions, the 1996-97 Gophers basketball campaign remains the most revered in program history.

Clem Haskins‘ bunch went 31-4 (16-2) while running away with the Big Ten Championship and reaching the Final Four, highlighted by a thrilling double-overtime win over Clemson in the Sweet 16.

Future NBAers Bobby Jackson, Sam Jacobson, Quincy Lewis and John Thomas led the way throughout their legendary season, which now carries an asterisk due to an academic scandal. Nonetheless, it was still a binge-worthy season, as the Gophers won eight games that were either decided in overtime or by one possession.

– Sam Ekstrom

Minnesota Golden Gopher Hockey: 2001-02

Minnesota men’s hockey’s most bingeable season? With respect to practicality in doing so, it would have to be the team’s 2001-02 season, the first of back-to-back national championships under former head coach Don Lucia.

There are just so many things to remember: Four players averaging at least a point per game. Six underclassmen with 23-plus points. The electric senior year for Johnny Pohl that saw him net 79 points in 44 games. Grant Potulny’s overtime, game-winning goal for the championship against Maine.

Oh yeah, that championship game and the Frozen Four were held some eight miles from the Gophers’ home rink that year, too.

– Drew Cove

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