I don't usually write introduction paragraphs because I hate them*, but I feel I should warn you that this list that's supposed to be optimistic is going to get really depressing really fast.
*New Year's resolution: Be more straightforward
8. Wild make playoffs again
...And then lost in five games to Dallas, but that's not important. The important part is that they made it, and in a terrible year for Minnesota sports, that means a lot.
7. Gopher basketball starts off hot
After going 12-1 in the nonconference season we knew the Gophers were, at the very least, better than last season. After a huge road victory over Purdue things are looking up. Amir Coffey has done well surrounded by a lot of local hype and Nate Mason has built on his solid sophomore season and was tremendous down the stretch against Perdue. I still think the biggest difference between this year and last year is the presence of Reggie Lynch. Last year's Gophers were badly missing someone who could protect the rim, Lynch provides that and its made a huge difference.
6. Young T-Wolves
Karl-Anthony Towns is the future, but he has his own section later on. Here, let's take some time to appreciate all of the young Wolves. Wiggins, Lavine and Towns are all averaging over 20 points while Dieng's been steady at center. The biggest issue here is depth. Once that first unit of Rubio-Lavine-Wiggins-Towns-Dieng comes out, there's no one who can lead a unit off the bench. Dunn has had his moments but it too inexperienced, Shabazz is more of an energy guy than a reliable scorer. That's going to be one of the biggest factors in them becoming a playoff team.
5. Buxton's hot finish
This Twins season was depressing on just about all fronts, including until the final month of the season, Buxton's performance. But then September rolled around. In his final 21 games, Buxton hit .287/.357/.653 with nine homers, eight more than he had hit in the previous five months of the season. He still strikes out way too much, but this was the first extended look we've gotten at how good he has the potential to be.
4. Lynx win the WNBA championship
Wait, did this happen or not? I assumed it did because it seems to every year but now that I think of it I realize that I actually have no idea. Regardless, I don't care enough to look it up and this year sucked so it's staying on.
3. Dozier's season
I should have named this column "Things that gave me hope during an awful year in sports". Dozier's a really interesting case. He was almost 25 when he made his debut as a shortstop in 2012 and hit .242 with six homers in 84 games. From there he established himself as a decent power hitting second baseman 18, 23, and 28 homers in the next three seasons respectively. But that was nothing compared to 2016 when he overcame an abysmal start to club 42 homers and drive in 99 runs. Now there's a chance of him being traded this winter. I'm saving my thoughts on that for its own column.
2. Towns wins rookie of the year
There are very few player in the league with Towns' combination of size, athleticism, passing, and shooting ability. The best part? He's only 21 years old. Things will improve.
1. Vikings 5-0 start
Well, that was fun while it lasted. Before this season fell off a cliff we had those six glorious weeks where a Super Bowl seemed like a possibility. Shortly after that dream start it became painfully clear that a team can't win with no offensive line and while having to rely on the defense to score every game. Here's to a better 2017.