Thad Wilkey has spent the last four Augusts doing what a lot of his fellow Minnesota sports fans have done: intently watching the Minnesota Vikings play games that don't count.
"I'd watch the whole game, try and get a read on how bad (Christian) Ponder still looked, maybe figure out how they'd fill the back of the roster out. It was fun for me."
In August 2015, though, the 42-year-old from Andover has been reminded of a startling fact: Preseason football is actually really boring.
"They're exhibition games! Holy shit! It's like I spent the last four years in a daze."
Wilkey credits this realization not to the games themselves, but to the fact that his favorite baseball team, the Minnesota Twins, is a legit playoff contender as the State Fair is in progress for the first time since 2010.
"The most I've thought about the Twins the last few summers is if they were going to trade anyone I'd heard of for prospects, or if I could catch a few Legends Club tickets on StubHub for, like, two dollars. Now, they're good again.
"I was actually angry about Chris Herrmann pinch-hitting for Byron Buxton last night. Last August, all I cared about, all I cared about, was the number of snaps Teddy Bridgewater was getting compared to Matt Cassel. I was a fool."
Wilkey says that this really struck home with him during last Saturday's Vikings/Raiders preseason game, which coincided with a thrilling comeback victory by the Twins.
"The Twins executed a perfect suicide squeeze and basically stole a win from Baltimore to get back over .500. Meanwhile, the Oakland Raiders were being the Oakland Raiders and Chris Walsh was missing, like, 80 field goals. It really changed my perspective."
This week's Vikings game is the penultimate one of the preseason, and is known as the "dress rehearsal" game for the regular season. Wilkey says he'll check it out during commercial breaks and pitching changes in the Twins/Astros game.
"My main concern is how Teddy's lookin', and that no one's ACL flies out of their body. Please tell MyCole Pruitt that it's nothing against him."