Minneapolis can shock the world

The city has an opportunity to make a great comeback.


Everyone loves a redemption story. After a few rough years, Minneapolis has a chance to write one. The city is in recovery mode and charting a new path forward, but not everyone is convinced we are on the right path.

There are a lot of doubters. Like a sports team facing a heavy favorite, Minneapolis is a big underdog with long odds and relentless questions.

Can Minneapolis solve its economic issues?

Can Minneapolis solve its social issues?

Can Minneapolis solve its political issues?

At this point, Minneapolis has a lot of parallels to the greatest underdog sports teams.

Remember the 2007 New York Giants? No one outside New York gave them a chance against the undefeated New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLI. Even some people in New York were resigned to a second-place finish. 

The Giants were a 12-point underdog. The 18-0 Patriots had Tom Brady, Randy Moss, and Bill Belichick. They just needed 60 minutes to seal their fate as the best football team in NFL history. 

But a funny thing happened on the way to Patriots immortality. Eli Manning, David Tyree and the Giants shocked the world and beat New England 17-14 to become Super Bowl champions.

How about the 1983 North Carolina State men's basketball team? Everyone thought the Wolfpack had a nice team and a nice head coach (Jim Valvano). But after they reached the championship game in the 1983 NCAA tournament, all those people thought N.C. State would be no match for the stacked Houston Cougars, a team led by future NBA Hall of Famers Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. 

All those people were wrong. N.C. State won 54-52 on a last-second Lorenzo Charles dunk, and pandemonium ensued. To this day, Jim Valvano running around the court looking for someone to hug remains one of the most iconic moments in sports history.

Closer to home, the Minnesota Twins weren't given much chance to win the 1991 World Series. After going 74-88 in 1990 and finishing last in the AL West, they were 100-1 shots to win the whole thing when World Series odds were first set at the end of the 1990 season. Those odds improved to 75-1 to start the season after the team signed Jack Morris, Chili Davis and Mike Pagliarulo.

We all know what happened next. The Twins put together a magical year that culminated with Jack Morris pitching a 10-inning, 1-0 shutout to beat the Atlanta Braves in seven games in the 1991 World Series. 

Five of the games were decided by one run, four were decided in the final at-bat, and three went into extra innings. In 2003, ESPN called that 1991 championship the "Greatest of All Time" in their "World Series 100th Anniversary" countdown. Many other outlets did the same.

Sports history is filled with many incredible underdog stories. But one underdog sports story stands above all the others — the U.S. men's hockey team at the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid, New York. 

That American hockey team was filled with amateurs and college players. They were going up against the best hockey team on the planet, the Soviet Union. The Russians had won four straight Olympic gold medals, and their roster included some of the best players in the world. 

It would have been easy for the U.S. to roll over. Instead, they delivered a 4-3 win in an amazing upset that produced one of the most famous calls in sports history as Al Michaels screamed: "Do you believe in miracles? Yes!"

U.S. coach Herb Brooks believed, and he got his team to believe with one of the most famous and inspiring pregame speeches.

"Great moments are born from great opportunity, and that's what you have here tonight, boys. That's what you've earned here tonight. One game. If we played them ten times, they might win nine. But not this game, not tonight. Tonight, we skate with them. Tonight we stay with them, and we shut them down because we can. Tonight, we are the greatest hockey team in the world. You were born to be hockey players — every one of you. And you were meant to be here tonight. This is your time. Their time is done. It's over. I'm sick and tired of hearing about what a great hockey team the Soviets have. Screw 'em. This is your time. Now go out there and take it!"

The 1980 U.S. hockey team took it, then went on to beat Finland and take home the gold.

Today, it's time for Minneapolis to shine. We are the underdogs. We can prove the doubters wrong. We have an opportunity to shock the world with a great comeback. 

It's up to us to make it happen.

Do you believe in miracles? Yes.

Eric Ortiz lives in the Wedge with his family. When he’s not community building, he’s the head of content and strategy for Big Edition and writes bilingual children’s books with his kids. Their first book, “How the Zookalex Saved the Village,” is available in English and Spanish.


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