It would be easy right now to be very upset with the current status of our local sports teams.  The Vikings are a mess, the Twins are coming off their worst season in recent memory, and the Wolves aren't even playing due to the strike.  The Vikings will always be Minnesota's first love, so fans will definitely have to be patient with them.

There are a lot of things that we all should be thankful for, though.  Below is my list of 10 things that every Minnesota sports fan should be thankful for.

1) Christian Ponder -- I will admit that I was wrong when I first assessed this selection by the Vikes.  Ponder is a better athlete than most suspected, and a very fast learner.  He should be a reliable starter for a long time, and I expect him to get better as he develops his leadership skills.  He has the physical tools.  He may be running that Vikes offense for the next decade, and I'm cool with that.

2) Ron Gardenhire -- The Twins were horrible this year, but Gardy won't let that happen two years in a row.  He is one of the better managers in all of baseball, and he knows this organization from top to bottom.  Injuries were bad last year, but with healthy position players - and a completely revamped pitching staff - expect the Twins to be back in 2012.

3) Minnesota Wild -- Let's give some love to the Wild!  We are supposedly the "state of hockey" - so let's rally behind the Wild.  Sure, they always start well, and then fade badly after the new year, but maybe this year will be different.  If they were to make the playoffs, all of Minnesota would catch hockey fever!

4) College Hockey -- The U of M has the #1 hockey team in the nation right now, and the SCSU Huskies are pretty good, too.  Lots of season left, too.  This should be fun the next few months.

5) Gopher Hoops --The Gophers men's basketball team should be decent this season.  Decent meaning, way better than last year.  I always liked Tubby smith, and I have a feeling that the Gophers will not be one of the Big 10's "have nots", this year.  I predict a top four finish in conference, and an invitation to the big dance.

6) Gopher Football -- No, this is not a misprint.  The program has only one direction to go, because it can't get any worse.  Coach Kill will provide the Gophers with a very significant upgrade talent wise, in the years to come.  The U of M will actually be able to compete with; Michigan, Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Nebraska, in the years to come.  Hard to believe now, but true.

7) Timberwolves -- The 'Wolves are going to be a very interesting team to follow - if we ever get that opportunity.  I'm going to have to see it to believe it, when it comes to Ricky Rubio - but I like some of the other young players currently on the roster, and like Gophers football, they can't really get any worse.

8) MN Outdoors Activities -- Minnesotans love to be outside more than folks in any other state, and why not?  There's always a ton of fun stuff to do.  Skiing, snowboarding, riding the snowmobile, hunting, and ice fishing are just a few ideas.

9) High School Sports -- The MN high school sports scene is always an interesting one.  The prep bowl is this week (GO SPARTANS!), but Minnesota really loves when the hockey and basketball tournaments begin in March.

10) Minnesota Lynx -- Don't forget, we presently only have one professional team that are champions right now.  The Lynx!  Don't laugh, they may be a dynasty in the making, and it's very possible that multiple championships are in their future.

So cheer up - we're all tired of watching the Vikes lose - but it won't be like that forever.

At least, I'll keep praying every night that it won't be!