Minnesota is in a New York State of Mind

In Minnesota, we’ve grown grudgingly accustomed to New York condescension. In the media, in politics, and in sports, East-coast bias reigns over the folksy little Twin Cities, where David-and-Goliath metaphors have long been the norm and our collective self-image becomes rooted as hopeless underdogs.

The subtle digs about “Minnie” and our love of hot dish, Prince, ranch dressing. The not-so-subtle digs about “flyover land” and the god-forsaken cold weather. The way the big-city opposition and the national press figuratively pat our heads like cute little spaniels when referring to our sports teams when they dare to make a playoff appearance before obligingly rolling over and playing dead.

When it comes to how we stack up against all things New York, Minnesotans have developed an inferiority complex as big as a Great Blue Ox, but without the protection of a massive plaid-clothed lumberjack with a big axe to help us cope.

In the NBA, free agents flock to New York and other large-market teams like swallows returning to Capistrano. Draft-pick prayers and desperation trades are all that Minnesota can muster, to mixed results.  In baseball, the Twins set a team payroll record last season, spending $149 million—a cool $100 million behind each of the New York Yankees and New York Mets. The Yankees currently hold a 13-game post-season winning streak vs. Minnesota.

The NFL, with its true salary cap, leaves more breathing room for a mid-market team like the Vikings. But even so there’s no avoiding a certain amount of big-city patronization, whether it be due to the big man-little boy dynamic of a Big Apple versus a Minneapple, or to the relative successes, or lack thereof, of our respective football teams.

While it’s true you’ll never hear a Jets fan mock the Vikings—they may have one more Super Bowl win but that was in the 1960’s, and the Vikings have far more to show for their efforts in the 60 years since than the post-Namath Jets—there is plenty of bragging rights available to the other New York City football club. Indeed, the Giants—the Vikings’ opponent for Sunday’s opening-round playoff tilt—are another story altogether.

The New York Giants have won all five of their NFC Championship Games—and four times went on to Super Bowl victory. When it comes to New York’s historical disrespect for the cute little pros from Minnesota, the cold hard facts are right there. The Giants are 4-1 in Super Bowls, while the Vikings are 0-4. Oh, and those NFC Championship appearances? There’s one that stands out: the one that pitted New York against Minnesota (2001) and resulted in what was surely the most embarrassing final score in Vikings history: 41-0.

So what’s a Minnesotan to do with their sporting self-respect in the face of such daunting history? Well, we can start by taking solace in the fact that we’re suddenly finding ourselves on a mini-run of Minnesota sports teams outflanking their big-city rivals.

Christmas Eve Heroics

Dec 17, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings place kicker Greg Joseph (1) celebrates his game winning field goal against the Indianapolis Colts after the game at U.S. Bank Stadium. With the win, the Minnesota Vikings clinched the NFC North. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Our Minnesota mini-run began on Christmas Eve, when the Giants came to U.S. Bank Stadium for what would become a playoff preview. It’s only been three weeks, you remember how this played out: Greg Joseph’s 61-yard field goal as time expired sealed a 27-24 victory, denying a New York comeback that very nearly cost them their playoff spot.

Bad Boys Invade Yankee Stadium

Minnesota Is in a New York State of Mind
Dec 29, 2022; Bronx, NY, USA; Minnesota Golden Gophers players pose for a photo with the championship trophy after defeating the Syracuse Orange in the 2022 Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Just five days later, it was the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers who found themselves at Yankee Stadium, taking on upstate New York’s Syracuse Orangemen in the Bad Boy Mowers Pinstripe Bowl. In true David-and-Goliath New York vs. Minnesota fashion, Syracuse rolled up 477 yards of total offense to Minnesota’s 215—and yet it was the Gophers who took a 21-10 lead midway through the third quarter and never looked back, with a 28-20 victory.

Twins Finally Get the Best of New York

Sep 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Twins shortstop Carlos Correa (4) hits an RBI single against the Los Angeles Angels in the second inning at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Before either of these events had taken place, the New York Mets announced they had come to terms with Carlos Correa, the free agent and former Twins shortstop, for a whopping $315 million, 12-year deal. They seemingly had scooped the San Francisco Giants, who had backed away from their own agreement to sign the all-star infielder owing to a medical opinion that Correa’s ankle, fractured in 2014, may not withstand 12 years of high-level competition.

When the Mets staff took their own look, they too became nervous about the long-term risks. This uncertainty allowed the Twins to sneak back into the picture, reclaim their shortstop with a 6-year, $200 million deal and make off with the goods that Mets owner Steve Cohen had bragged would “put us over the top” only two weeks before.

In the end, it was the mid-market Twins willing to take a risk, outbidding New York’s revised best offer by a wide margin. Ultiately, they were able to bring home the big prize only when New York became too timid to pull the trigger on their own coup.

The Wild Steal A Win at UBS

Jan 12, 2023; Elmont, New York, USA; Minnesota Wild right wing Ryan Reaves (75) skates with the puck defended by New York Islanders defenseman Sebastian Aho (25) during the third period at UBS Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Islanders rode a 1-0 lead for much of the hockey game on Thursday night, but midway through the third period, the Wild broke through with a goal by Frederick Gaudreau to tie, and two minutes later Sam Steel added the go-ahead tally. Karill Kaprizov sealed the deal with an empty-netter late, and the Wild had snuck away from New York with another win for Minnesota.


Admittedly, this little mini-run isn’t exactly clear-cut evidence of Minnesota superiority, or anything close. If you want to cast doubt on how impressive any victory in something called the “Bad Boy Mowers Pinstripe Bowl” is, I won’t argue with you—you have a very valid point.

But then again, if New York is that special, why would they sully Yankee Stadium’s name with the Bad Boy Mowers Pinstripe Bowl in the first place? While we’re at it: why do both of the New York football teams play their home games in New Jersey?

So there. There’s certainly doubt to cast in both directions. Let’s just keep running with the theory that Minnesota is indeed on a roll where New York is concerned. Oh, and let’s also agree to ignore the Rangers 6-5 overtime win over the Wild on Tuesday night. And we’ll also hope to God that Correa’s ankle holds up.

Sunday: Giants-Vikings Redux 

So, with a sudden honest-to-goodness, no-doubt-about-it hot streak going against New York, maybe Minnesota sports fans can have a little confidence in their home team—and in the Vegas line that has the Vikings favored by three at home for Sunday’s 3:30 battle.

The Purple have home field advantage, they’ve beaten the Giants already, the Giants are limping into the postseason (after a 7-2 start, they went 3-5-1 the rest of the way), the Vikings pass game is operating at a high level. With all the remarkable play we’ve seen this season, and all the positive omens that seem to be shining in Minnesota’s direction right now, I think the playoffs are the perfect time for fans to put ourselves firmly in a Minnesota State of Mind.