RIP, Deadspin: A death as sad as it is chilling

Deadspin arrived on the sports scene in September 2005, about 100 years ago in internet time (or a little over 14 years in real time).

It died this week, perhaps not officially but for all practical purposes, in a flurry of accelerating moves that started with its new private venture owners creating a new “stick to sports” mandate for the site and ending with several of its most prominent writers or editors, including interim editor in chief Barry Petchesky either being fired or resigning.

In a lot of ways, the site — famously dedicated to “Sports News Without Access, Favor, Or Discretion” — provides a perfect snap shot of the evolution of digital media and discourse.

It started with founding editor Will Leitch and a host of inside jokes, snark combined with a “plus-one” commenting section of like-minded people trying to one-up each other.

And while I was a sports journalist long before Deadspin arrived, there is no doubt it had a significant influence in my decision to start this blog in 2006 and in the voice I adopted.

Early Deadspin was for the cool kids, the ones who watched sports but liked athletes and broadcasters held accountable. ESPN was a frequent target back in those days, and those squabbles seem so tame now.

It evolved and became more mainstream but more controversial at the same time. The site grew, made some mistakes, crossed some lines and took on even more enemies.

One of those lines and one of those enemies led to a lawsuit that forced parent company Gawker into bankruptcy, which led to liquidation, which led eventually to a loss of independence and a purchase by a private equity firm. And then this week happened, which maybe was inevitable. Deadspin has had a lot of unofficial deaths in the last few years, but this one feels real.

I’ve had a lot of people tell me in recent years that they just don’t read Deadspin that much any more, and I suppose that’s true for me as well. But I think that has more to do with 1) the destabilization of the site a few years back and 2) the fact that there is just so much more content out there than there was a decade ago, and it’s delivered in a much more splintered way.

Usually I go directly to a post now that I’m interested in via Twitter instead of refreshing the site several times a day to see the latest post.

But when I do, it’s almost always worth it. Drew Magary (a friend and longtime Vikings sufferer with whom I did a weekly feature after Vikings games called “The Monday Meltdown” back in the early days of this blog) is one of the most interesting and thoughtful writers out there. David J. Roth is a must-read, particularly and specifically when he is NOT sticking to sports.

Both writers, and plenty others on the site, came right at their targets. Often they are people in power. People in power don’t like to be held up to a light and held accountable.

And that’s the particularly chilling part of this story. Venture capital owners wringing cash out of a property while bleeding dry the product is a tale both sad and familiar.

Even if we give the new management the benefit of the doubt — that it’s merely particularly clumsy and bad in its attempt to make money, failing to recognize what gives the site value and that the writers, in this case, are very literally the brand — it’s bad enough.

It’s much darker but far from unreasonable to think that the “stick to sports” edict is a way to suppress dissenting, non-mainstream voices on important topics instead of any sort of business decision.

If they were merely clumsy, would there have been mass resignations as there were Wednesday?

To watch the way they punched and screamed and clawed on the way out the door is truly inspiring, and as true to the spirit of Deadspin as anything I could have ever imagined,” Leitch told the New York Times. “They refused to give in to the bad guys. During a time when so many people have made a profession of that very thing, I find it downright heroic.”

What we’re left with, though, is a site that is a shadow of its former self — one that was executing its mission and making money before being told not to.

Winning a high-scoring game? Yeah, the Vikings can do that this year

While many marveled at the spectacle of the Rams’ 54-51 victory over the Chiefs during the 2018 regular season, it was enough to make a hardcore defensive coach a little grumpy.

“It’s not my cup of tea. Might run me out of football,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said last year when asked about it. “I think you have to have a well-rounded team, but I don’t think that you can give up 51 points or 54 points a lot of times and win games, in my opinion.”

OK, that last part isn’t an opinion. Giving up that many points is a recipe for disaster. But what about giving up a more reasonable total – like, say, 20 points?

Coming into this season, that benchmark has been almost as important for Zimmer’s Vikings. Including playoff games they were 9-26-1 from 2014-18, his first five years as head coach, when allowing an opponent to score 20 points or more.

The Packers’ record in the same span, by contrast, when allowing 20 or more points: 28-32-1 (and yes, the tie for both teams was against each other last year).

The Vikings’ mark was an especially unsightly 1-7-1 last season, with untimely defensive lapses combined with the offense’s inability to overcome them dooming the Vikings to being over-reliant on one side of the ball. They were 7-0, after all, when allowing fewer than 20 points.

This year, at least so far, has been a little different. The Vikings are 2-1 when allowing 20 points or more – and neither of the two wins were cheap: 38-20 over the Eagles, with two late touchdowns turning back a Philadelphia rally and 42-30 over Detroit, with a late TD sealing Zimmer’s second win as a head coach when the Vikings allowed 30 points in a game.

Even if the Vikings don’t face Patrick Mahomes on Sunday – the Chiefs haven’t officially ruled him out yet, a ruse as old as coaches pining for ball control – there are a lot of offensive playmakers on both sides.

With that as a backdrop, I asked Zimmer on Wednesday if he felt like he has a team this year better-equipped to win a high-scoring game, should one unfortunately break out, compared to past years.

“I mean we’ve been fortunate, we’ve been able to move the ball pretty well,” said Zimmer, who it should be noted still presides over a defense ranked in the top five in points allowed and yards in the NFL. “That does give me hope, and we’ve run it in a variety of ways. We can score in a variety of ways, whether it’s running or throwing. So I guess the answer would be yes.”

The obvious goal, of course, is to dominate on both sides of the ball while producing a lopsided result. Beyond that stated goal, though, is the recognition that a good team will probably need to win a variety of ways – as the Vikings did in grinding out a 19-9 win over Washington just four days after putting 42 points on Detroit.

“I would hope that we have the confidence. I certainly don’t want to walk into a game and say, ‘hopefully we don’t give up too many points because we can’t keep pace with them,” quarterback Kirk Cousins said. “I think we have confidence. You have to go out and prove it, though. … We’ll do whatever the game calls for, and certainly if it does call for a high-scoring affair we need to be ready to respond.”

Added receiver Stefon Diggs: “If it does become a high-scoring game, a big-play matchup, we have to do what we’ve got to do.”

That swagger and ability on offense is a departure from most of the Zimmer era. It was supposed to be a part of the narrative last season. But if it holds up for the Vikings this season, the feeling will be better late than never.

Wild had most giveaways in a game since 2015 — if you believe the stat

In the wake of the Wild’s 6-3 meltdown at Dallas on Tuesday, when a 3-0 Minnesota lead late in the second period devolved into a barrage of poor play and bad decisions, the subject of turnovers is both important and complicated.

According to NHL.com, the Wild was credited with 20 giveaways in the game — an extremely high number. In fact, that’s the most giveaways the Wild has had in any game since being charged with 21 on March 24, 2015 against the Islanders (a game they actually won).

Mike Yeo was the coach back then, not Bruce Boudreau. And the fourth-year Wild coach was understandably not pleased with how things unfolded Tuesday.

“We have guys that continually give it away,” Boudreau said after the game, per our Sarah McLellan. “It creates penalties, it goes the other way and consequently, it’s in our net. If we had just kept getting it deep, and checking like we were doing, we would have been fine.”

Here’s the thing, though: the Wild actually doesn’t turn the puck over very much relative to the rest of the league — at least not according to NHL.com’s giveaway stats.

Through 12 games this season, Minnesota has committed the fifth-lowest number of giveaways (104) in the league even after Tuesday’s debacle. And last year, when the Wild plummeted to last in its division and missed the playoffs after making the postseason six consecutive times, Minnesota had by far the fewest giveaways in the league (517). The next-lowest was Colorado at 595, while the leader, Florida, had 1,234.

That sort of disparity, though, might tell us more just as much about the stat and how it’s being tracked as the teams themselves.

Those who follow hockey analytics far more than I do (hat tip in particular to Matthew Coller) suggest that even though there’s a basic understanding of what constitutes a giveaway there’s a pretty wide variance in how giveaways are charted.

And a lot of that shows up in home-and-away data for the Wild.

This year, for instance, the Wild has been credited with 81 giveaways in eight road games (a little over 10 per game) and just 23 in four home games (a little less than six per game). Last season, the Wild had 295 road giveaways and 222 home giveaways, even though Minnesota had a better road record than home record.

And since the start of the 2013-14 season, the Wild has had 15 games in which it has been tagged with 15 or more giveaways. All but one of those came on the road.

That’s not to suggest whomever is tabulating giveaways at Xcel Energy Center is doing it wrong, but that is a lot of evidence to suggest there’s a different standard.

That said, the Wild also has a reputation for playing smart and valuing possession. If you merely doubled Minnesota’s road giveaways last season (295), the Wild still would have finished with the fewest giveaways in the league (590).

How do we reconcile all this information?

Boudreau has a high standard with giveaways, but he’s not wrong that it’s been a problem this season. If we isolate on just road giveaways this season and use that as a season-long pace, the Wild would finish this season with 836 giveaways — way more than last season.

And more than anything, it’s a lesson in making sure data is meaningful before leaning on it too much. Because the eye test sure suggests the Wild — even if the numbers say overall Minnesota has the fifth-lowest giveaway number — is being careless with the puck.

Ryan Leaf on his love for Gophers football: ‘I was the first one on the boat’

In the up and down life and career of Ryan Leaf, there have been greater claims to fame, but make no mistake the former Washington State star quarterback and No. 2 overall NFL pick turned ESPN analyst is pretty proud to say this: “I was the first one on the boat.”

Indeed, it was July 29 when Leaf released several college football predictions on Twitter. One of them had the Gophers winning the Big Ten West.

“When I got the job at ESPN, my bosses asked me to throw my hat in the ring and throw out some predictions around the country,” Leaf said in a phone interview this week. “So I published it and people laughed at me.”

Nobody is laughing now – not with the Gophers sitting at 8-0, including 5-0 in the Big Ten with a two-game lead in the Big Ten West heading into a huge November stretch that includes a showdown in two weeks with undefeated Penn State.

Perhaps only Gophers coach P.J. Fleck himself, with his “Row the Boat” mantra, was an earlier adopter when it came to Minnesota’s potential this season. But Leaf, who also put the Gophers in his preseason top 25 when such a thing seemed bold, says his prediction was based on studying and logic.

“I just started going through everyone’s schedule. When I got to Minnesota’s, I saw they didn’t play crossover games against Ohio State and Michigan. I saw they had home games against Nebraska, Penn State and Wisconsin,” he said. “I loved how they finished last year and love how P.J. Fleck has gone about (things) there and what he did at Western Michigan.”

Leaf said some of those things and more when he sent a video, at Fleck’s request, to the Gophers before the season started.

“I just said hey, the year we went to the Rose Bowl (after the 1997 season) all the media members picked us to finish seventh out of 10 teams in the Pac-10. We were the only ones who believed in ourselves and we did it,” said Leaf, noting some similarities between the two long-suffering programs and fan bases. Washington State’s Rose Bowl trip was its first in 67 years.

To say thanks, Fleck sent Leaf and his family a bunch of Minnesota gear. When Leaf was a guest host on Rich Eisen’s show a couple weeks ago, he donned a bright gold Gophers shirt and had Fleck on to talk about the team, adding to the connection.

It might seem like a strange kinship, but Leaf said he has a lot of family from Minnesota and that his dad, John, is a longtime diehard fan of the Vikings and Twins.

“So I’ve been rowing the boat for a while,” Leaf said. “But it’s not just a thing to do. I think they’re incredibly capable. They are as big and powerful up front as anybody. They run the ball well. Tanner Morgan does his job at quarterback. This was not some flight of fancy.”

Having helped get the Gophers some early recognition, Leaf is turning to a new lobbying effort: trying to get ESPN’s “College GameDay” to visit Minneapolis for the Penn State game. He vowed to “put some pressure” on his ESPN bosses to skip the No. 1 vs. No. 2 temptation of LSU vs. Alabama in favor of a first-time trip to the Twin Cities.

“Washington State had it for the first time ever last year, and it was one of the best shows they’ve ever had,” Leaf said “I wouldn’t be surprised if the Minnesota faithful showed up in the same way. I think (GameDay) would be doing themselves a disservice if they just went ‘chalk’ and went back to Tuscaloosa.”

After all, TCF Bank Stadium still has a top-10 matchup – at least in Leaf’s latest rankings, where he has Penn State No. 5 and the Gophers No. 8 in the country.

“Their floor is to absolutely fall on their face and finish 8-4,” Leaf said. “But I think they are every bit capable of beating Penn State, Iowa and Northwestern as well as Wisconsin.”

Leaked image shows Brewers going back to ‘ball and glove’ primary logo in 2020

Fixing a problem you helped create — like, say, buying more milk after accidentally leaving a full carton out overnight or upgrading an offensive line after years of neglect — is worthy of some credit, but only partial credit.

At least it’s better than not solving the problem at all.

So some kudos are in order for the Milwaukee Brewers, who appear to have had the good sense to return to a version of their “ball and glove” logo as their primary brand in 2020.

A leaked image on Sportslogos.net shows the new logo on a preview of a baseball card set, and the site has more details.

Though there are some updates from the old ball and glove logo — which the Brewers used from 1978-1993 before making a switch — the basic concept is the same (yes, with the glove and ball still cleverly making an “M” and “B” for Milwaukee Brewers).

The Brewers have increasingly used the retro logo in recent years — including 52 games last season, per Sports Logos. But it appears they are righting a wrong for their 50th season in Milwaukee. The team hasn’t confirmed it, but they didn’t exactly deny it.

What do the Timberwolves’ excellent Halloween costumes tell us about them?

The Timberwolves are presenting themselves as a tight-knit, family-style group this season, and with a 3-0 record so far it’s hard to argue with the results.

And like a lot of families you will see on social media this week, the Wolves have gone ALL OUT in dressing up for Halloween.

The team’s official Twitter account posted pictures late Monday of players and head coach Ryan Saunders dressed up for the holiday, albeit a few days early — during a party that was hosted by Karl-Anthony Towns.

Let’s single out a few of the best costumes and most prominent wearers while asking: What do their choices tell us about them?

Head coach Ryan Saunders: Mighty Ducks jersey

What’s a basketball coach doing wearing a jersey from a fictional hockey team, you might ask? Ah, fear not. This costume is so on-brand it almost hurts. “Mighty Ducks” was filmed in Minnesota and came out in 1992 when Saunders was 6. He’s a suburban Twin Cities kid at heart, and the Ducks jersey is right in his wheelhouse. Also, it’s extremely safe and requires no makeup or time commitment. He’s a new dad. Time is precious and you don’t want to scare the kid.

Karl-Anthony Towns: The Joker

Wow, we could really go deep here on Towns choosing this as an attempt to reconcile two very different sides of a personality in a confusing world. But probably he was just trying to come up with the best costume possible. Or maybe he’s just sending a warning to Joel Embiid that he’s coming for him in Wednesday’s matchup of 3-0 teams?

Robert Covington: Steve Urkel

This one is the winner in my book because — no offense to Covington — he looks like he actually could be Steve Urkel from Family Matters (played by Jaleel White) all grown up. If you’re going to dress up like a character that’s not in any way cool, you have to own it. RoCo does that, which tells me he’s fine laughing at himself. If the Wolves wanted to start playing the “Did I do that?” sounder every time Covington makes a three-pointer at Target Center, I wouldn’t be mad.

Jordan Bell: Vegeta

The Timberwolves, a modern company that employs a lot of millennials, has a “dress for your day” workplace policy. On game days, that means these guys wear uniforms. But on Monday, Jordan Bell’s day apparently included impersonating a character from Dragon Ball who “believes he should be regarded as the strongest fighter in the Universe.” Not much left to unpack after you read the full Wiki on Vegeta.

Honorable mentions

The guy in the back who looks like he’s impersonating Ryan Saunders … Andrew Wiggins going all out … Whomever is in the Freddy Krueger costume.

Did I miss anyone memorable? Let me know in the comments.

Inside the numbers: How the Wolves became the only 3-0 team in the NBA

The NBA season started with me actively wondering if the Timberwolves would even win 30 games, and now less than a week later this is the reality that has played out: After three victories, all over teams in the Eastern Conference and two on the road, the Wolves are the only 3-0 team in the NBA (and one of just five undefeated teams overall).

How did the Wolves get off to such a good start? Let’s take a look inside the numbers in an attempt for an explanation and to see if the trend might continue.

Shot quality

The Wolves vowed going into the year to improve the efficiency of their shot attempts — namely to take more three-pointers and shots close to the rim, considered the highest-value areas for field goal attempts, while eliminating long two-pointers.

Last season, the Wolves took just 60.3% of their shots from those distances (three-pointers or from 0-3 feet, per Basketball Reference), ranking among the lowest in the NBA.

This year through three games, they are attempting 72.7% of their shots from those two distances — including 43.4% of their attempts from three-point range, sixth-highest in the NBA.

Only 10% of shots so far have been from between 10 feet and the three point line, the dreaded mid-range. Last year’s mark was 22%.

Sustainability level: High. There will be some learning moments, and even a temptation to step inside the line sometimes since the Wolves are only making 30.2% of their three-point attempts. But this is the modern NBA, and this is what efficient offenses do. The Wolves are committed to it, and there’s no reason to think they will go away from it.

The four factors

Perhaps the biggest piece of good news for the Wolves is that they’ve won without shooting the lights out (Andrew Wiggins’ barrage late Sunday notwithstanding). Their aforementioned 30.2% mark from three-point range is just 26th in the NBA, and overall they are 18th in effective field goal percentage.

eFG, which takes into account the value of threes over twos, is one of the essential “four factors” that are considered hugely correlative for success.

But while the Wolves are slightly below average in eFG, they are dominating the other three areas: free throws, rebounding and turnovers.

Per NBA.com, they’re No. 5 in overall rebounding percentage, No. 4 in offensive rebounding percentage (30.8) and No. 7 in lowest turnover ratio (14%). Their greatest hidden efficiency, though, is the free throw battle.

The Wolves are taking eight more free throws per 100 possessions and making 10 more per 100 possessions than opponents through three games.

Sustainability level: Moderate. Turnovers were a major issue during the preseason as the Wolves adjusted to playing at a faster pace with a lot of new players. So far they haven’t been an issue in the regular season. Rebounding could be an issue against bigger teams. Minnesota’s eFG should improve as its overall three-point percentage ticks up a few notches. They can’t expect opponents to continue to shoot 56.7% from the line (lowest in the league), but their style on both ends of the court should produce a continued positive disparity in attempts.

Rim defense

Wolves opponents are attempting 32.6% of their shots at the rim (fifth-highest in the NBA), but they are making just 58% of those close-range attempts (sixth-lowest). That suggests the Wolves are allowing penetration but doing a good job contesting shots.

Sustainability level: Unknown. The sample size on this one is too small, though the energy and effort on defense — led by active wings and Karl-Anthony Towns — is encouraging.

Bench contributions

The Wolves’ second unit has a nice flow to it, particularly when Towns shares the court with key reserves. Several bench players already have eye-popping plus-minus ratings (difference in points scored vs. points allowed when they are on the court): backup point guard Shabazz Napier is plus-38, Jake Layman is plus-40 and Josh Okogie is plus-45.  The Wolves overall are plus-30 this season, so you can see a lot of that edge goes to the bench.

Sustainability level: Moderate. The second unit can play defense and it plays hard. As long as there’s a scorer on the court, too, the bench can be a strength.

Great starts and finishes

The Wolves have a net rating of plus-26.8 in the first quarter (best in the NBA), and their plus-21.9 net rating in the fourth quarter is ninth-best. In between, they’re No. 23 in the second quarter (minus-12.2) and 18th (minus-1.1) in the third quarter.

Sustainability level: Low. That suggests the Wolves have had focused starts and strong finishes, but particularly their closing mark should be challenged as they face better teams with higher-quality lineups.

Intangibles

Let’s go off the grid and briefly mention something harder to quantify. Players seem to like each other and play cohesively, which can be a larger part of the battle in the NBA than we might realize.

Sustainability level: TBA. We’ll find out more once the team faces adversity — a bad loss, a losing streak, a minor injury, the grind of an 82-game season.

One game is all it takes to have Warriors out of playoffs — and Wolves in

I often trade messages about the Timberwolves with a friend who is the very epitome of Minnesota fandom: defaulting to pessimism, but swayed into optimism with very little prompting (only to often swing right back into pessimism with equal velocity).

Before the season started, he was excited about the prospect of a Wolves rebuild but had low expectations for this season. After a one-point win at Brooklyn, in which the Wolves allowed 115 points in regulation and 126 overall, he talked excitedly about defense possibly being the team’s identity. And now he’s decided that a low playoff seed could be there for the taking given the injury to New Orleans rookie Zion Williamson, the suspension of the Suns’ Deandre Ayton and the putrid debut of the new-look Warriors.

Outrageous claims and one-game overreactions, of course, are not solely the currency of fans. They are also the lifeblood of TNT analyst Charles Barkley, who offered up a big one Thursday.

Where do we stand after roughly 1% of the season?

OK, I’ll play to my own inner circle group text stereotype (this is different than the messages with the other friend, by the way), whereby I play the “role” of eternal Timberwolves optimist.

I forgot to put the group text on “do not disturb” mode Wednesday when I paused the Wolves game late in the third quarter of a close game in order to help with the hour-plus routine that it takes in our house to put two young girls with night owl tendencies to bed.

As such, I was alerted to a message that came across at 9:19 p.m. reading: “Welp, RandBall is going to be unreadable tomorrow.”

Any frustration over having the outcome spoiled (clearly they had won) has been mitigated by the utter restraint I have shown in making it a full extra day without writing about it. Joke’s on them!

OK, but seriously, there were things to like about the Wolves’ 127-126 overtime win at Brooklyn, a playoff team a year ago.

Karl-Anthony Towns was everything advertised in a more versatile offensive role, and his defensive effort was encouraging (with three steals and three blocks telling part of the story). Treveon Graham looks like the ultimate glue guy — someone who won’t necessarily stuff a box score but will do the little things, including snagging a huge offensive rebound in overtime.

The interior defense (including KAT) was excellent at snuffing out lob plays at the rim. And the second unit was a strength all game and probably the biggest factor in the victory.

The biggest negative was familiar and predictable: The Wolves committed to taking more threes (43!) but they made just 13. And that was with KAT hitting 7 of 11 while everyone else went 6 for 32.

They also had no answer for Kyrie Irving, save for the last play when Josh Okogie guarded him and Kyrie may or may not have intentionally tried to pull of an impossible playground ballhandling move, and at the very least almost did regardless of intent.

And of course there was Andrew Wiggins, whose overall inefficiency (10 for 27, no assists, minus-26 in the box score) was only somewhat mitigated by some well-timed drives and buckets late.

If you’re really determined, I suppose, you can argue that the Wolves winning in spite of Kyrie’s debut 50 and their own chucking bricks (with Wiggins leading the way most of the night) shows there might be a path to more and better victories in games where more things click.

But enough wins to be frisky enough to rise up and contend for a low-end seed in the West?

You can write the Clippers, Nuggets, Jazz, Rockets, Lakers and Blazers in ink. You bet against the Spurs at your own peril. The Mavericks, Pelicans and Thunder are in the mix.

Wait, I haven’t mentioned the Warriors? I was saving them because of Barkley, who asserted at HALFTIME OF THE FIRST GAME OF THE SEASON Thursday against the very good Clippers that the Warriors, who have been to five straight NBA finals, are going to miss the playoffs because they can’t score enough. Did I mention injured Warriors guard Klay Thompson was sitting right there?

You don’t believe me?

As long as we’re overreacting to the 141-122 loss, I’d say the Warriors’ defense was the most alarming part. And offseason/current Wolves target DeAngelo Russell was a minus-35 in 33 minutes (though he did have 20 points and 8 assists).

But imagining a world where the Wolves make the playoffs this season and the Warriors don’t?

I’m going to need at least two games before I can commit to that.

Yu Darvish waited over 500 days for perfect Twitter revenge on Justin Verlander

Way back in the fourth inning, when an eventual Nationals rout was still a 2-2 game, Astros starter Justin Verlander fielded a short infield grounder, threw from the ground … and hit himself in the leg.

He smiled about it, and owned it in the same manner someone might, oh I don’t know, own a tweet that randomly resurfaced from five years ago.

It wasn’t the worst moment of Verlander’s outing Wednesday — a performance that dropped the otherwise ace to 0-5 with a 5.73 ERA in six career World Series starts and put the Astros in an 0-2 World Series hole — but it was definitely the most amusing and embarrassing.

The most spectacular thing about it, though? It brought out a mocking tweet from fellow pitcher Yu Darvish.

That doesn’t seem very nice or funny? What if I told you Verlander delivered the exact same tweet in Darvish’s direction about a year and a half ago.

Score settled. That’s how Yu win Twitter.

Impasse between FSN and providers is angering a new set of Minnesota sports fans

It’s been nearly three months — July 26, to be exact — since any of the 21 Fox regional sports networks were available on Dish Network or Sling TV, the latter a streaming service owned by Dish.

That means Dish and Sling customers in the Twin Cities haven’t been able to watch Fox Sports North, which carries almost every Twins, Wild and Timberwolves game (either on the regular or plus channel) as well as the majority of Minnesota United and Lynx games and a lot of college hockey games.

Needless to say, it’s a very important channel for sports fans in this market.

There was a lot of anger when the channels were initially dropped during the Twins/United/Lynx seasons this summer, which I wrote about at the time. A lot of those fans probably either switched carriers to one that did have FSN — easier to do if you have the month-to-month Sling subscription, which I had before dropping it in favor of Hulu + Live TV — or tried to ride out the impasse in hopes that the problem would go away as these things often have in the past.

This is an update of sorts, but I’m sorry to report there doesn’t appear to be any end in sight. It’s worth revisiting, though, as the absence of FSN (and the other regional networks in other markets, all of which were purchased by Sinclair Broadcast Group in a deal that closed in August) is angering an entirely new set of fans with the NHL, NBA and college hockey seasons underway.

If you’re a Wolves fan with Dish or Sling who doesn’t watch other sports and you tried to tune in for Wednesday night’s opener at Brooklyn, your frustration might be the freshest (particularly since it was an entertaining overtime win for Minnesota).

Here’s just one angry tweet I saw last night:

When the @dish_answers Twitter account replied to the tweet with its typical boilerplate nonsense, the response from @zackmoney was even more frustrated (and on-point, though I omitted an expletive in repeating it below):

I know, I’ve read your corporate speak a dozen times in the last 3 months. Figure it out.”

Meanwhile, this email arrived from a Wild fan: “Have you any information regarding the stand-off between DISH and Fox Sports North? I cannot get any Wild games, and if no progress is visualized, it is time for me to change providers. Neither party says anything of value, except to blame each other for the impasse.

That last part pretty much sums it up. The two carriers who dropped the channels are saying the networks want too much money, while the RSNs are encouraging people to switch carriers.

If you read the Twitter replies from both the Sling and Dish help accounts, you wouldn’t be very optimistic about the future, though the language is a little different.

Sling has been telling people: “Unfortunately we have been unable to reach an agreement with the channel owner to restore this programming at a fair price. We believe it is unlikely that the channel will return to our service.”

Dish has been telling people: “DISH has made every attempt to extend the contract in an effort to quickly negotiate a fair, long-term deal for our customers, not one that puts customers in the middle again. We are working to bring your channels back at a fair price. We truly appreciate your patience in dealing with these matters.”

When I had Sling, I paid $30 a month (including 50 hours of DVR) primarily to have access to FSN. I dropped it for Hulu (which costs $44.95 a month but has more sports channels). Both have neither a long-term commitment or cancellation fee.

Dish customers are especially boxed in because that service often includes a lengthy contract and expensive termination fee.

A cynic might wonder why Dish is seemingly working harder (or at least posturing as thought it is) to bring the channels back to its core product instead of its less expensive streaming option, but we’ll wait until we see if there’s any progress.

As of now, there seems to be zero momentum to do anything — except, of course, to frustrate fans who pay money to watch local teams and can no longer do that.