The Twins spent a festive first season in Target Field in 2010, and then were again whipped by the New York Yankees in a first-round playoff series. The three-game sweep was completed Oct. 9.

There was a gap of 634 days in competitive excitement for the Twin Cities' major sports entities -- unless you choose to put the Lynx and short-season basketball in that category.

On July 4, 2012, on a steamy day to celebrate our nation's 236th birthday, the thoughts of Minnesota's sports fans were turned to winter nights and frozen surfaces and well-placed passes of a hockey puck.

The Wild pulled off the shocking exacta of signing the NHL's premier free agents, forward Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter, on Wednesday, and our long sports nightmare was instantly transformed into runaway giddiness.

Even those Minnesotans who can take hockey or leave it were blown away by the idea that two athletes with options to play in New York or Chicago, or to play with established stars in Pittsburgh or Detroit, decided they wanted to be here.

Wanted to play in the Twin Cities.

Maybe it was a heat-induced hallucination, but I could swear there was a woman that looked like a young Sally Field running down University Avenue shouting, "They like us. They really like us."