MINNEAPOLIS – It was another crazy year in Minnesota sports in 2022, with playoff heartbreak, coaching and front office changes and long overdue hall of fame nominations for some of the best at their craft.
In no particular order, here at the top Minnesota sports stories of the year.
It was early April, and the Minnesota Timberwolves were hosting the L.A. Clippers to determine the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference Playoffs. It was during the second quarter of the game that we met “Glue Girl.” Alicia Santurio, in protest of the mass killing of chickens at an Iowa factory egg farm owned by Glen Taylor, glued her hand to the court. The moment went viral on social media, and it was one of Fox 9’s most read stories of 2022.
There were at least two more protests after “Glue Girl” during the Timberwolves/Grizzlies playoff series, which Memphis went onto win.
A day after beating the Chicago Bears to finish the 2021 season 8-9 and miss the NFC Playoffs for the third time in four seasons, it was time for the Vikings ownership group to shake things up. Zygi and Mark Wilf fired Mike Zimmer after eight seasons, and Rick Spielman, who had been with the Vikings since 2006.
The ownership hired Kwesi Adofo-Mensah to run the front office in January. A month later, Kevin O’Connell was hired as the next head coach. The Vikings were 6-8 in one-score games in 2021. This year, they’re 11-0, winners of the NFC North at 12-3 and still fighting for the No. 1 seed with two games to play.
It’s not hyperbole to call Carlos Correa the biggest free agent signing in Minnesota Twins franchise history. During Spring Training, the Twins signed Correa to a three-year, $105 million deal with opt-outs after each season. Unfortunately for the Twins, it didn’t translate into making the playoffs. The Twins couldn’t stay healthy all year, lost the AL Central Division lead in August and never got it back. They finished 78-84 and missed the playoffs for the second straight year.
Correa entered free agency, and is on the verge of signing with the New York Mets despite concerns about a leg injury.
The Timberwolves tried to make their offseason splash after hiring Tim Connelly to replace Gersson Rosas as the president of basketball operations. His first big move? Trading five players and four future first round draft picks to the Utah Jazz for Rudy Gobert. One of the best defensive centers in the game, the plan was to bring the star to Minnesota to build off a 46-win season and playoff appearance.
So far, it’s still very much a work in progress. The Timberwolves are 16-18 and 11th in the Western Conference.
SYLVIA FOWLES BIDS MINNESOTA LYNX FAREWELL
Sylvia Fowles entered the 2022 season with the Minnesota Lynx knowing it would be here last as a professional athlete, and the plan was to send her out with a WNBA title. Instead, the Lynx failed to make the playoffs for the first time in 11 years. Fowles retires after becoming the first player to record 4,000 career rebounds. She won two titles with the Lynx, was the WNBA Finals MVP for both of those and won league MVP in 2017.
She’ll leave the game as one of the most decorated players in WNBA history.
A little over a year ago, Jim Kaat and Tony Oliva got the ultimate honor from their baseball peers. Through the Golden Days Era Committee, both former Twins’ legends were named to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. It became official at a July event in Cooperstown, New York.
Kaat also had his No. 36 Twins’ jersey retired at Target Field in 2022. He spent 15 of his 25 seasons with the Twins, while Oliva spent all 15 of his seasons in Minnesota.
Lindsay Whalen is one of the best basketball players ever to come out of Minnesota. In September, Whalen was named to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in her first time on the ballot. She led the Gophers to their only NCAA Women’s Final Four appearance in 2004. She led the Minnesota Lynx to four WNBA titles, and has two Olympic gold medals. Her No. 13 Gophers jersey now hangs in the rafters at Williams Arena, and her Lynx jersey is also hanging at Target Center.
Andrea Yoch and other stakeholders had no idea how the inaugural season for Minnesota Aurora FC would unfold. They brought pre-professional women’s soccer to the Twin Cities, and nearly took home a championship. Playing in front of regularly sold out crowds at TCO Stadium, Minnesota Aurora finished its regular season undefeated at 11-0-1 and won 13 straight games before hosting South Georgia Tormenta FC in the USL-W title game, a 2-1 loss in extra time. It was a historic first season for Minnesota Aurora, and now they’re chasing aspirations of becoming a professional team by 2024.
The Minnesota sports fan hopes 2023 brings a Vikings’ playoff run, the Timberwolves figuring things out and the Twins being competitive again.