We live in an increasingly binary world, where success and failure are measured in extremes and the middle ground is shrinking.
This certainly applies to sports, where modest success is often labeled failure by fans. If your team didn't win a championship, then it better have been so bad that it can get the sort of future draft capital that can lead to a championship later.
Otherwise, what was the point?
This sentiment was perfectly synthesized on Wednesday, when I was joined on the Minnesota State Fair's Star Tribune stage by Wild General Manager Bill Guerin. At a certain point, the platform was turned over the audience.
The question from a fairgoer, paraphrased slightly, was this: What is more likely to happen at a future State Fair — seeing the Stanley Cup trophy or seeing a new general manager of the Wild?
You can listen to Guerin's entire appearance, if you missed it, on Thursday's Daily Delivery podcast.
I think Guerin has generally done a very good job as Wild GM and has to rank at the top or near the top of any list of Minnesota sports executives. He inherited a franchise in limbo in 2019, navigated COVID and a difficult decision on Zach Parise/Ryan Suter, and seems to have the Wild in a good spot now while pointed toward better days ahead.
But the fan, who sparked a fun give-and-take with Guerin, was hardly being rude. He was just laying out the reality of sports.
Most head coaches and general managers who come up short of a championship find themselves unemployed sooner rather than later. Doug Risebrough and Chuck Fletcher got close to a decade each as Wild GM, and even that seems rather luxurious considering the Wild has never even reached the Stanley Cup finals.
Guerin gets it. He grew up around Boston sports, and he has learned quickly that "Minnesota Nice" only goes so far.
"They want a championship. They want to win and it's a demanding sports market. It should be, it is a great sports market and it's not just hockey. ... You should expect excellence from your team," he said Wednesday. "You want your teams run properly and putting everything they have into it in order to win. You know you're not going to win every year but you better die trying."
The Wild have had three narrow first-round playoff losses each of the last three years. It underscores how thin the margins are — and that the clock never stops ticking.
Here are four more things to know today:
*The Wild are not unique in this market when it comes to being good but not necessarily great. It's possible the Wild (already did it), Wolves (already did it), Lynx, Loons, Twins and Vikings will all make the playoffs this year, while none of them would be considered elite.
*I hope T.J. Hockenson's ear and back are all better now that he has agreed to a contract extension.
*Jhoan Duran's last 21 appearances, spanning two months: 0-4 record, three blown saves, 4.64 ERA and an .830 OPS allowed. That's definitely cause for concern, even if his latest blown save Wednesday still left the Twins with a five-game lead over Cleveland.
*We'll get into a lot more Twins talk on Friday's podcast with Star Tribune beat writer Bobby Nightengale.