In Sports, Wisconsin Rocks While Minnesota Rolls Over

October 19, 2011

In May, we rubbed salt in the wounds of Minnesota sports fans by posting a chart that showed this is the worst period in our state’s sports history.

Today, we’re busting out the salt shaker again. We’ve updated our chart tracking the average annual winning percentage of Minnesota’s top sports teams. But this time, we added results for Wisconsin’s teams. Read it and weep:

Minnesota and Wisconsin sports winning percentages 1961-2011

Why would we do this to ourselves? We should be talking smack on the eve of this Sunday’s Vikings-Packers game and the Nov. 12 game between the Gophers and the Badgers at TCF Bank Stadium. Instead, we’re marveling at a yawning chasm between Wisconsin’s success and Minnesota’s failure.

packers logoBlame Fast Horse’s own Andrew Miller for the sadistic idea of comparing the states’ sports records. He had a hunch that Cheeseheads are enjoying one of the best sports runs in their history. The numbers proved him right: Wisconsin’s current .749 average winning percentage is its best showing since 1961.

When Miller sent me the results of his Wisconsin sports research via email, his subject line was, “That was hell.” Did he mean it was hard finding 50 years of records from the Pack, Brewers and the old Milwaukee Braves? No, that part was easy. Delving into Cheesedom’s winning ways … that was awful.

As for Minnesota, our winning percentage has plummeted to .282 so far this year, even worse than the pathetic .294 mark we sported in May. The Twins, who were 12-23 (.343) when we posted our first chart, actually managed to “improve” to .389 by the end of the season. But horrible starts by the Vikings (1-5, .166) and the Gophers football team (0-2, .000 in the Big Ten) are dragging us down into uncharted depths of misery.

vikings logoUnless the Vikes pick it up or the Wild post a solid record, Minnesota’s 2011 teams could finish well below the previous worst year of 1988, when we posted a combined .342 winning percentage.

What’s so startling is the huge gap between the rival states. Most years, there has been some parity. Wisconsinites would boast about the Badgers while we’d counter with the Vikes or the Twins. But in the most reason recent season for five top sports, all the Wisconsin teams posted better records than their Minnesota counterparts.

The results of head-to-head competition reveal similar woes for Minnesota in recent years. Since 2007, Minnesota teams are 26-35 against Wisconsin teams.

At least we have the champion Minnesota Lynx!

Some notes about the chart:

  • We calculated average winning percentage each year by adding up every team’s percentage and dividing by the number of state teams that played that year. Example: In Minnesota in 2010, it was .580 (Twins) + .375 (Vikes) + .183 (Wolves) + .463 (Wild) + .375 (Gophers football) + .500 (Gophers basketball) = 2.48. We divided by 6 to get an average winning percentage of .413.
  • We did not add up the wins for each team and then divide by total games played. We felt that method would put too much weight on baseball teams, which play far more games than football. The way we see it, a 72-90 Twins season (.444 winning percentage) is about as painful as a 7-9 Vikes season (.438 winning percentage).
  • Postseason records are not included.
  • NHL records don’t include ties.
  • The statistics for college teams include only conference records. We didn’t count non-conference cream puff games (though it’s duly noted that for Gophers football these days, even those games are anything but gimmes.)
  • The 2011 winning percentage factors in records for the the NFL teams and college football teams. That puts extra weight on these partial seasons. The Pack might not maintain its 1.000 percentage. The Vikings certainly have a chance to win more than two games, which would boost their current winning percentage. But does anyone think the Gophers are going to win a Big Ten game this year?
  • The 2011 numbers do not include the Wild, who just started their season.