There is nothing worse these days, it seems, than being average.
Mathematically speaking, that's absurd because the very nature of average suggests that half of the options are actually worse even if half are better.
But average is suggestive of a sort of settling — a reach for the lowest branch and not the stars mentality that has no place in our increasingly binary society.
It is expressed in the modern pejorative "mid," which the kids these days lob at all sorts of ordinary and soon-to-be humiliated targets.
Your Halloween costume. That song. Everyone's favorite football team.
It better not be mid.
An improvement on average, particularly in the mindset of many modern sports fans, is to be outlandishly bad — something I talked about on Tuesday's Daily Delivery podcast in the context of the Vikings.
Through the first four games of the year, which I will still think of as a quarter of the season no matter how many games Roger Goodell foolishly decides to add to the schedule, we have seen that the Vikings have enough flaws to prevent them from being great. They quite possibly have enough to stop them from even being good.
But they also don't seem like they are bad enough to be really bad. They do enough things well to beat teams like Carolina, as they did on Sunday — a 21-13 victory that, admit it, caused some of you to watch the game through a complicated lens.
No! Kirk Cousins! What are you thinking with that throw?! ... But maybe that's not so bad? If they fall to 0-4, their chances of a trade deadline sell-off and a high draft pick improve.
D.J. Wonnum! Yes! Scoop and score! ... But now they're ahead. They'll probably win this game. They can probably beat a lot of other bad teams and maybe a couple good ones if they stop shooting themselves in the foot. Seven or eight wins, here we come. Caleb Williams, there you go.
It's a world in which three wins is clearly not as good as 13 wins, but it's way better than eight wins.
And I get it because the thing I want the most from this Vikings season is clarity — to know whether they should lean into the "competitive" or the "rebuild" part of the Kwesi Adofo-Mensah phrase that will follow him for as long as he's the team's GM.
For now, there's this: An offense that is third in yards per play but has the second-highest turnover rate deserves a little more time to prove itself, while a defense that can flummox a young quarterback might be able to win the right matchups in spite of the offense.
The next month could provide a great deal of that cherished clarity regarding the direction this all is headed, even if you're worried that "mid" is the most likely eventual outcome.
Here are four more things to know today:
*Bobby Nightengale pretty much nailed his roster predictions on Monday's special edition Twins playoff preview podcast. And I can't disagree with any of the decisions the Twins made. The two biggest contributors left off — Byron Buxton and Bailey Ober — still could be factors in the division round. Ober figures to be the Game 1 ALDS starter if the Twins advance but need three games to do it, while Buxton now has extra time to show he's healthy and capable.
*Two Giants players, including former Gophers lineman John Michael Schmitz, were injured on the same unsuccessful "tush push" play Monday night. That's about how the season has gone for New York.
*Programming reminder: There will be bonus podcasts after all the Twins playoff games this week (and beyond). Yes, I'm well aware that if they make a run this could be an absurd pledge.