The NFL should learn from MLB’s mistakes and pivot to a bubble

Before we get too far into the upshot of this post, the thing the headline suggests, let’s be clear on one thing: The very best thing sports could probably do right now is just hit the collective pause button and try again in March.

Yes, that includes the NHL, WNBA and NBA which seem to be somewhat successfully — at least in terms of keeping out the coronavirus — navigating their restarts. And maybe that’s what the NBA and NHL will eventually end up doing with their 2020-21 seasons, assuming they can make it through the final part of their interrupted seasons.

It almost certainly applies to MLB and college sports, which have pretty much no shot of keeping COVID at bay given the nature of how they are going about things. And it applies to the NFL.

Divert the testing, financial and logistical muscles being pumped into these sports into more meaningful societal endeavors like, you know, trying to start schools in a safe manner.

But … now that my throat is clear, we all know that’s not going to happen. We’re already pretty far down the road with the restart of sports. There are TONS of games this weekend between MLB, NBA, WNBA and NHL. There is too much money at stake. And yes, there are a lot of fans enjoying the diversion of having sports to watch on TV instead of constantly doom-scrolling current events on their news feeds.

It’s nice to watch sports, even in their weird, sterile environments. And yes, even with completely bizarre fake fans — both cardboard cutouts and computer-generated — in the stands.

Here’s the thing, though: If coronavirus has taught us anything so far it’s that we need to learn from it. Barely a week into the MLB season, it seems pretty clear that the way baseball is going about things — no bubble, with players traveling to road games and mingling with family at home — is just not working. Under those conditions, outbreaks of the virus are inevitable, as a colleague of mine continues to correctly assert.

On Friday, 20% of MLB games are postponed because of COVID-related reasons. They’re already making modifications like seven-inning doubleheaders. The season continues to lurch forward, but of all the leagues currently in-season the biggest doubt about actually being able to finish has to be MLB.

The leagues operating in bubbles — the NBA, WNBA and NHL — have been relatively quiet in terms of coronavirus news. The NBA continues to tout zero positive tests from recent results. They are taking it seriously. They have a real plan, while MLB has seemingly adopted the U.S. health care plan: hope you don’t get sick.

All this brings us to the NFL. Like MLB, pro football owners and players agreed upon a season outside a bubble. No fans, in all likelihood, but also no bubble.

In a sport with more players, tons of coaches and much closer contact both in practice and games and countless outside interactions, the NFL seems destined to experience problems even worse than what MLB has experienced already. Even early testing from training camps have revealed tons of cases or exposures.

So here’s the deal: This is the last day of July. The Vikings aren’t scheduled to play their first game for about six weeks, on Sept. 13 against the Packers.

If the NFL is going to have any meaningful hope of playing this season, it needs to immediately get creative and pivot to an NBA-like bubble — you know, like Dr. Anthony Fauci suggested six weeks ago.

Yes, it’s far more complicated to try to play a full, long season in a bubble. From now until the end of the regular season would be about five months, compared to what will just be a much shorter duration for players in other bubbled leagues.

It would require renegotiating with players. It would probably mean more opt-outs for players who didn’t want to be away from families that long.

And it might require a creative schedule since finding enough quality fields in one contained area might be difficult. Football seven nights a week? OK, if we must …

If the goal is playing — again, not saying that should be the goal, but here we are — that is the only realistic way the NFL can do it.

They can either learn from MLB’s failure or they can repeat it. That’s the choice.

Twins ‘big heads’ spark fun debate about legendary status

Fans aren’t allowed at Target Field because of the coronavirus pandemic this season, but during the Twins’ 30 scheduled home games this season it will be hard to miss some notable faces as you watch at home on TV.

A total of 80 former Twins players or managers and four broadcasters have been deemed “legendary” — or at least legendary enough — by the Twins to have oversize cardboard cutouts of their heads placed in the seats immediately behind home plate.

The size of the images only adds to the absurdity of how this 2020 season is being played, but the content of the images themselves allows room for a fun debate — the kind of small distraction many of us seem to be craving right now in the midst of much heavier subjects dominating headlines.

The Star Tribune’s Phil Miller posted a list of all 84 legends on Twitter last night. We joked about it some on the most recent Twins Insider podcast, but let’s get into it in a little more depth here.

*First off, there are plenty of no-brainers. Joe Mauer is almost exactly behind home plate, and you can see Rod Carew, Kent Hrbek and Kirby Puckett nearby in the front row.

As far as I can tell, every player who is part of the Twins Hall of Fame is represented with a cutout — with one exception: Chuck Knoblauch.

Beyond that, though, the list of legends gets quite a bit more subjective. And fans have noticed.

*Like, for instance, Boof Bonser is a legend? I mean, his name was great. And he was a fan favorite. But he was also 18-25 with an ERA above 5 in his Twins career.

(Bartolo Colon fits this category as well — fan favorite, tons of fun, but a legend?)

*The list also tends to skew kind of recent vs. old. There are plenty of players from the, um, not-so-great but good ol’ days that are left off the list. Maybe not this many, but you get the point:

*And Chili Davis is a clear snub, as more than one person pointed out.

*What about some more recent standouts? Maybe the Twins wanted to avoid any potential conflicts since at least some of them are active or could be active in 2020?

Maybe this will all be a moot point by the next home stand? As Miller wrote, for $80 Twins fans can have their own cardboard cutout placed in a seat.

I really hope Plouffe buys one.

Joe Kelly reminds us how badly MLB, Rob Manfred messed up with Astros

Was it immature or at least dangerous for Dodgers relief pitcher Joe Kelly to throw a mid-90s fastball near the head of the Astros Alex Bregman?

Sure. Of course.

Was it justified for him to do it, and to buzz Carlos Correa as well?

Yes, even more so.

Such was the predicament created by Major League Baseball and Commissioner Rob Manfred — it hasn’t been his day, his week, his month or even his year — with their absurdly toothless penalties after the Astros were found to have cheated their way to the 2017 World Series title over the Dodgers.

No Houston players were suspended for their roles in the sign-stealing scandal — and no, the damage to their reputations is not close to enough punishment.

And so Kelly made sure we didn’t forget, in a season delayed and with many other things rightfully occupying our brain space, that the Astros cheated and didn’t pay.

He did it in a crude way. He did it even though he likely knew that there would be consequences for him, even though there weren’t any for Astros players — an other layer of absurdity and unfairness.

Maybe Kelly didn’t know he would be suspended eight games. That’s the equivalent of about 22 games, percentage-wise, if this was a normal 162-game season and not a 60-game (fingers crossed) year. But then again, MLB isn’t great at the punishment fitting the crime so perhaps Kelly and the rest of us shouldn’t be shocked.

But Kelly took one for the team — or, more aptly, for all 29 teams not named the Astros. He reminded us that the integrity of the game still matters, that we shouldn’t forget what Houston did even in this absurd 2020 season.

I’m glad nobody got hurt. I’m glad Kelly did what he did. I’m glad he openly taunted Houston players after the inning was over.

He didn’t even the score. If anything, his suspension while the Astros still walk free made the tally even more lopsided.

But at least he did a thing Manfred didn’t have the guts to do: Show Astros players there are consequences for their actions.

Twins players have picked their entrance music. Let’s do some rankings!

Finding traces of normalcy in the midst of a baseball season being played during a health pandemic has to be challenging.

Almost every habit has been disrupted — sound familiar? — and even things like home run celebrations require conscious thought instead of just instincts.

But entrance music — whether during an at bat for a hitter or just before taking the mound for a pitcher — is one of those small slices of routine that can be salvaged. And Twins players have done so, with the full list of known entrance music released Tuesday by team PR specialist Dustin Morse.

Sure, there’s this thought: If entrance music is played in a ballpark without fans, does it really make a sound?

But as much as the songs are part of the fan experience — and fan routine: can you even think about a Joe Mauer at bat without thinking of the first 10-15 seconds of “What You Know” by T.I.? — they are even more about getting players in the right frame of mind to compete.

As such, here is a very subjective compilation of 10 very good songs chosen by Twins players for their entrance music this season. Let’s do this in reverse chronological order to build suspense!

10. Sergio Romo. “El Mechon” by Banda Sinaloense. I didn’t know anything about this song before I looked it up. To be honest, I’m not sure I’d throw it into a playlist. But it sounds exactly like Romo pitches. In Romo we trust.

9. Randy Dobnak. “Take Me Home, Country Roads” by John Denver. Some songs pump you up. This one, I imagine, probably calms people down. But maybe that’s what Dobnak needs before he takes the mound against big league hitters. If this was a list of karaoke-able songs, by the way, Dobnak’s choice would be in the top three.

8. Luis Arraez. “Temblor” by Causa, Farruko and El Alfa. If Arraez hits .400 this season, which he probably will (*probably will not), it could be argued that the vibe from this song should at least get a co-starring role in all the accolades he receives. The hook is mesmerizing. I could watch the video all day, though probably not in the office. What a time to be working from home.

7. Zack Littell. “Can’t stop” by Red Hot Chili Peppers. Where do Red Hot Chili Peppers fall on the hipster credibility spectrum? Is it cool to like them? Guess what: I don’t care. They continue to slap hard, and Can’t Stop is, as the kids say, a banger. This would get me fired up to throw some low 70s heat. Littell can throw even harder, and this song surely helps.

6. Mitch Garver. “Shining Star” by Earth, Wind & Fire. Great song. Incredibly positive. I’m not quite sure what’s keeping it out of the top five. Maybe it’s a better postgame celebration song than at-bat music? But guess what: I didn’t hit 31 homers in 311 at bats last season. Garver did.

5. Tyler Clippard. “Ready or Not” by The Fugees. First off, fantastic song. Extra bonus that the lyrics are on point for intimidation. “Ready or not, here I come, you can’t hide” is exactly the mentality that a relief pitcher should bring into a tight ballgame. Clippard is clearly a strong addition to the ‘pen in multiple ways.

4. Alex Avila. “Icky Thump” by White Stripes. If the guitar and drum around the 45 second mark don’t make you want to run through a brick wall, I don’t know what will make you run through a brick wall. Maybe nothing? As a closer’s entrance song, this might be No. 1. As at-bat music, it loses a little because maybe it’s … too unsettling? Can you even grip the bat while playing air drums? We’ll find out as the season goes along, I guess.

3. Taylor Rogers. “The Chain” by Fleetwood Mac. The album “Rumors” came out in 1977, a few months after I was born (more on how I’m old later). It came out about 13 years before Rogers was born, so this choice — a classic song, of course, obviously — reflects an impressive musical sensibility from Rogers. Also, it has a nice slow build, perfect for a handful of warmup tosses.

2. Byron Buxton. “Return of the Mack” by Mark Morrison. One of the catchiest songs ever created, and it came out in the mid-90s just a couple years after Buxton was born. I can’t think of a single reason to dislike this song, just as I can’t think of a single reason to dislike Buxton as a ballplayer.

1. Rich Hill. “Even Flow” by Pearl Jam. The veteran Twins lefty, signed in the offseason, is 40. I’m three years older, which is a sobering reminder that even the oldest athletes now tend to be younger than me. But in this case it means that Hill and I appear to be on virtually the same musical wavelength, having experienced the grunge revolution in our early-to-mid-teens. In the battle of Nirvana vs. Pearl Jam, I’m a Nirvana guy. But Even Flow is probably the best Pearl Jam song ever. And it earns the top spot in these rankings.

Ex-Deadspin staffers set to launch new site ‘Defector’

Several of the top contributors who left the popular site Deadspin a year ago amid a battle over editorial control with new parent company G/O Media have formed a new site called Defector that is set to launch in September.

Among the names on the new masthead: Drew Magary, David J. Roth, Barry Petchesky and Diana Moskovitz.

Magary and Roth are also going to co-host a podcast called The Distraction. The podcast is set to launch in August, while the Defector site is set to launch in September.

Basically, they’re getting the band back together, which should be very exciting news to a lot of people. That said, it doesn’t exactly feel like Deadspin 2.0 — mostly because of the business model.

In a sign of how the economics of web-based publishing have changed since the site’s 2005 inception, Defector is a subscription-based site instead of one supported by advertising and sponsorship as Deadspin was (and still is, as it continues to operate in the absence of many of the key people who built it).

Subscriptions to Defector are $69 a year for basic access to articles and $99 a year for added perks like commenting privileges, newsletters and other access.

Per The New York Times, there are no outside investors in the site and all employees have about a 5% stake. They will be paid as the site makes money. “If you’re going to take a moonshot, you may as well do it exactly the way you want to,” Kelsey McKinney, a former Deadspin staffer turned Defector contributor said.

Presumably that doesn’t just involve the business side. At the heart of the mass exodus last year was a battle over what topics Deadspin should cover — with its new parent company wanting writers to essentially stick to sports.

On a personal note, I was an avid Deadspin reader for many years after its launch. Magary, one of the world’s foremost tortured Vikings fans, used to appear with me on a regular blog feature after games called “The Monday Meltdown.” It’s not a stretch to say my blog, and the subsequent path it took me on at the Star Tribune, was influenced significantly by the early days of Deadspin. (I even used to use the Royal We! Remember that?)

In this business, there’s no cheering in the press box. But rooting for talented writers to make a living doing without compromise? I’ll do that every day — including right now for Defector.

Use your illusion: Twins season begins as both distraction and reminder

When you weren’t really paying attention this weekend, or conversely you were able to lose yourself in the moment, the Twins’ season-opening series win over the White Sox felt close to normal.

With the game on in the background and the white noise of a crowd providing a familiar hum — while keeping one eye on proceedings while working on other things — things felt familiar.

When Jake Cave hit a long fly ball to left on Sunday, barely clearing the wall, I felt a good 30 seconds of genuine baseball reflection: The difference between four runs from a grand slam and zero runs on a long fly ball out was a mere matter of inches. Baseball is wonderful in that way.

But the mundane moments of being present, at least to me, felt as jarring as the other moments were soothing. The strange cardboard cutouts behind home plate and in the stands: a constant reminder of an empty stadium, and therefore a reminder of why the stadium was empty. You know, the global health pandemic causing death, sickness, economic devastation and, way down on that list, disruption of our sporting norms.

The times I caught myself remembering that the noise I was hearing wasn’t real. Or at least it wasn’t coming from fans inside the ballpark. It was pre-recorded, piped in, meant to provide a sense of normalcy to players and a TV audience – but only achieving that goal if we don’t think too hard.

Everything with a soft focus.

I tried the radio for a couple innings, and that seemed to be the most normal of all – until a hitter sprayed a foul ball into the stands, and Dan Gladden instinctively referred to it as a souvenir.

For whom? Twins PR guru Dustin Morse, who is on a quest to recover all the home run balls that normally would have been snagged by fans (a fun bit of levity, but also a reminder of what we’ve lost)?

Perhaps the moment that brought it all home: Sunday’s seventh inning stretch, with the Twins comfortably ahead, and God Bless America blasting through a stadium filled with only players and the cardboard cutouts of fans who would normally be there.

Watching and listening to the Twins in 2020: It is strange and nice. Weird and comforting. A distraction and a reminder.

Waking up Monday morning, the instinct was to look at the standings: The Twins are tied atop the AL Central at 2-1 with Cleveland and Detroit … whoa, strange, nobody in the majors is either winless or undefeated after most have played just three games.

But even an opening weekend that went off mostly without a hitch for baseball was quickly brought back to a different reality with news of the Marlins having 11 players test positive for COVID-19. Their game against the Orioles on Monday? Postponed. The Phillies, who just played the Marlins? Their game against the Yankees has been postponed.

The thing that was inevitable and which nobody really wanted to think about has happened with 5% of the season in the books.

Everything precarious about even a 60-game season (plus expanded playoffs!) came back to the forefront. Oh, and the Blue Jays didn’t even know exactly where they would play their home games by the time the season started. The plan now: Buffalo, but not for a couple weeks while they scramble to get that stadium Major League-ready.

I’d cue up the South Park song “Blame Canada,” but that’s the wrong country to blame. I wouldn’t want U.S. ballplayers coming into my country, either.

Amid this swirl, the Twins are preparing for their home opener Tuesday. If you are experiencing conflicted emotions right now – excitement for a season with tremendous promise, mixed with a nervous nagging feeling that none of this should be happening and everything should be shut down, combined with a sadness that you can’t be there in person on what looks like a glorious night, helped by the thought that at least you can see it on TV – you are not alone.

It has always required a certain degree of separation from realities of life to ascribe tremendous meaning to sports. It’s hardly as though the world was perfect a year ago as the Twins won 101 games. There was disease. There was poverty. Countless things happening just beyond the veil.

But watching the Twins and sports in general right now just feels even more complicated, with the escape and the trap part of the same visible hole.

Now more than ever, your reality depends on how you use your illusion.

Why do oddsmakers list Vikings as a favorite to land Dak Prescott in 2021?

Multiple online oddsmakers have the Vikings as one of the leading contenders to land quarterback Dak Prescott on their roster for the 2021 season, and since I can’t quite shake the “whaaaaaaat?” reaction I have to such a thing I decided to try to shake loose possible reasons why.

*These online sites know something we — and by we, I include plugged-in Star Tribune Vikings writers Ben Goessling and Andrew Krammer — don’t know when they list the Vikings at 8 to 1 odds, tied for third with the Bears and just behind the Colts (6 to 1) and Jaguars (7 to 1) as Prescott’s most likely landing spot.

Prescott is at odds with his current team, the Cowboys, after the sides failed to hammer out a long-term extension. He will play 2020 for Dallas on the franchise tag, making a robust $31.4 million.

As Goessling and Krammer noted to varying degrees on a podcast earlier this offseason, current Vikings QB Kirk Cousins is likely here for a while after signing an extension. Even though his new deal does not include a no-trade clause it would cost them a $20 million cap hit to trade him after the 2020 season — a year that would have to be a complete disaster, one would imagine, to even entertain such a thing. A trade after the 2021 season, at a $10 million cap penalty, is somewhat more feasible. But the Prescott question is for the 2021 season.

And really: None of this makes much sense at all when you consider Cousins was quite good in 2019 and ranked higher (No. 6) than Prescott (No. 10) in Pro Football Focus’ QB rankings.

*The online sites are looking for publicity during a time when betting action has been painfully slow because of the sports shutdown. Ah, now we might be cooking. Now let’s go a step further.

*Only 18 teams are listed as candidates to have Prescott on their Week 1 roster in 2021, and all of them are listed between 6 to 1 and 25 to 1 odds. That establishes that there’s not really a huge front-runner. It could be anyone!

More specifically, though, you can’t bet on the most likely team: Dallas. The Cowboys aren’t listed. They hold a decent amount of leverage and can have Prescott play on the franchise tag again in 2021.

When the dust settles, it seems likely Prescott will still be in Dallas in 2021. And everyone suckered into a prop bet — whether they’re frustrated Dallas fans or optimistic fans of another team listed — will be left holding a losing ticket.

How often NFL tests for coronavirus could be $100 million question

As the NFL lurches toward the start of training camp, probably later this month, very few specifics are known regarding exactly how the league plans to pull off a season in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

For all the talk that the NFL had the most time of all leagues to figure out a plan given that it had just entered its offseason when the full weight of COVID-19 reached the U.S. in March, here we are more than four months later and with the clock ticking a lot faster.

Texans star defensive end J.J. Watt laid out the issues that still have yet to be addressed Thursday on Twitter, framing them as “a few things I’ve learned being on four NFLPA calls in the last two weeks with hundreds of other players. Keep in mind our rookies are scheduled to report in 48 hours.”

Watt wrote that players want to play — he began and ended his list with that — and that they want to be safe. But he also said huge questions remain about what camp will look like, how many preseason games there are going to be, what the impact of a positive test would be on numerous levels or even how often players are going to be tested.

The last point is a big one in a sport where social distancing is wholly unnatural as hard-breathing players line up inches away from each other several dozen times a game. The players’ union said Thursday that 72 NFL players have already tested positive for COVID-19 in the lead-up to camps starting.

ESPN reported a couple weeks ago that players want daily testing for themselves and team personnel during camp, while the proposal at the time was for every-other-day testing. Per Watt’s tweet, that still hasn’t been resolved.

Why? Well, there are certainly optics and logistics at play given the volume of testing required. There is a concern among some that the recent spike in cases across the U.S. is already straining both the capacity and timeliness of test results. Add in all the testing required from all the sports leagues resuming, and it adds to that burden.

But perhaps the bigger issue is money. If the NFL decided to do the maximum amount of testing across its players, coaches and other team personnel, it would be quite expensive.

How expensive? Well, we don’t know for sure. But we can do some rough math.

First, the NHL said the cost of each test it plans to run during the restart is $125. The NFL might have a different rate or deal depending on volume and what lab(s) it chooses, but let’s use $125 a test as a good and known ballpark figure.

Now let’s say each NFL team needs to test 150 people. That includes players, obviously, but also coaches, front office personnel, media relations staff and anyone else who comes into even semi-regular contact with players — which, if you’ve ever been at an NFL practice or camp, is a lot. The Vikings, for example, will have a 53-man active roster, up to another 12 players on the practice squad and 23 coaches this season. That’s 88 tests right there. Maybe 150 is too high during the regular season. It might be too low during camp when more players are involved. But let’s use it, again, as a ballpark figure.

Now let’s say every team does daily testing for the duration of the season — starting with training camp later this month and running through at least the end of the regular season. That’s a little over five months, from late July through early January, or about 160 days.

$125 per test, multiplied by 150 people, multiplied by 160 days, multiplied by 32 teams is …

$96 million.

Add in the postseason, even with a reduced number of teams, and we’re talking more than $100 million (and more than 800,000 tests, by the way) in this hypothetical, estimated scenario.

Now, that works out to about $3 million per team. Maybe that seems like a small price to pay for maximizing the effort to minimize impact and spread of the virus.

But if you cut that number in half by doing testing every other day, the ballpark math comes out to a league-wide savings of $50 million-plus during a year when finances are already in disarray because of the massive loss of ticket revenue.

It will be interesting to see what the NFL and players ultimately agree upon — if, that is, they agree at all.

NCAA makes it clear: football running out of time to save season

In perhaps the most sobering picture yet of where things stand for fall college sports, the NCAA on Thursday released a series of guidelines for a potential return-to-competition amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amid all the protocols and possibilities, such as daily health checks and testing within 72 hours of competition in some sports, were some words that should strike fear in — or, hopefully, spur to action — those who care about the safety of our country and the reward of college football.

“Any recommendation on a pathway toward a safe return to sport will depend on the national trajectory of COVID-19 spread,” Brian Hainline, NCAA chief medical officer, said in a news release on the NCAA web site. “The idea of sport resocialization is predicated on a scenario of reduced or flattened infection rates.”

Those trendlines have been going in the wrong direction lately — something acknowledged again, bluntly, by the NCAA in a graph accompanying a tweet on the subject.

There are two key lines: The one showing a steep upward trend of confirmed cases per 1 million U.S. residents on average over the last seven days (about 700, per the graph) and the gradual downward slope of confirmed cases that the NCAA labeled “where we thought we’d be,” which would be about half of where we are now and going down instead of up.

For an extra splash of cold water, here is what NCAA President Mark Emmert had to say in the release:

“When we made the extremely difficult decision to cancel last spring’s championships it was because there was simply no way to conduct them safely,” Emmert said. “This document lays out the advice of health care professionals as to how to resume college sports if we can achieve an environment where COVID-19 rates are manageable. Today, sadly, the data point in the wrong direction. If there is to be college sports in the fall, we need to get a much better handle on the pandemic.”

It should come as no surprise to anyone who has been following the virus in recent weeks.  Hot spots are developing all over the country — and particularly in regions where college football is king, as noted by Star Tribune sports editor Chris Carr when pointing toward a New York Times graphic.

Even with conferences punting on nonconference games to buy some time, college football basically has two months until the start of its regular season. Given that planning and decisions on whether or not to play will need to be made somewhat in advance of a mid-September start date, there is precious little time — maybe a handful of weeks — for the trend to change and college sports to even have a chance of being played in the fall.

Getting a better handle on the virus should be a priority for a million public health reasons above and beyond college football, but if this threat is what it takes to achieve better distancing and near-universal masking (at least, um, outside of Georgia), then so be it. A win is a win.

And it should be a simple path to victory. Other countries have done it, as that NCAA graph also shows. CDC Director Robert Redfield said it just this week: “If we could get everybody to wear a mask right now, I really think in the next four, six, eight weeks, we could bring this epidemic under control.”

Otherwise, be prepared for a fall full of consequences — one of which very much looks like it would be a lost season of college sports.

Johnny Manziel, Andrew Wiggins and other times I was ‘hacked’ on Twitter

It was a nightmarish evening Wednesday for us lofty folks who are verified on Twitter and get to show off that status with the social media currency of a check mark next to our names.

Owing to a breach on the site during which several high-profile verified accounts were hacked, Twitter shut down the tweeting ability of ALL verified accounts for a few hours (though we could still retweet. At least we could still do that).

It proved to be a wise move. Even my account, usually the home for dad jokes, kid updates, jumpsuit enthusiasm (and sports) was not spared. Yes, everyone: I was hacked.

These particularly clever hackers had a strange mission, but they accomplished it beautifully: Back-dating tweets onto my timeline attributed to me to make it look like I had brandished some terribly wrong sports opinions over the years.

I’ve only begun to uncover the damage done during the breach, but I have at least managed to find five key instances so far.

*The hackers seemed to have a particular affinity for making it look like I was a huge proponent of the Vikings drafting Johnny Manziel in 2014.

Asserting he will be a better pro than Derek Carr or Teddy Bridgewater? Preposterous.

Making it sound like I would fight anyone who didn’t think Manziel would be a great NFL quarterback? The stuff of psychopaths who clearly have no regard for my reputation.

Tweeting a link and manufacturing an entire blog post after the Vikings took Bridgewater instead of Manziel? Have to admit I’m impressed, but still pretty steamed.

It’s the kind of stuff that I hope pushes my case to the top of the list of any resulting federal investigation.

*The hackers seemed to have a real affinity for 2014 because they also inserted into my timeline an opinion that perhaps Andrew Wiggins — who had yet to play an NBA game — was already better than Klay Thompson.

This is how you know I was hacked. I mean, that’s the sort of thing nobody would even dream of thinking or typing in real-time, and its presence six years later should be studied closely for its clear violation of Twitter terms of use as well as the space-time continuum.

*The hackers tried to make it look like I was all-in on the idea that Adrian Peterson would be traded in 2015.

They even went so far as to create phony pictures — obviously deepfakes if you look closely — of Sid Hartman and I after I allegedly (in the fantasy world of whomever was doing this damage to my account) lost a $1 bet about that very subject.

I know it looks like me. I know it looks like my handwriting. That’s what makes all of this even scarier.

*In perhaps the creepiest breach of all, the hackers used Twitter to link to my Instagram account — a two-for-one — to show me wearing a pair of obscenely short shots that ostensibly, according to their half-baked theory, came after I made a wager that Tarvaris Jackson would lead the Vikings to a playoff win over the Eagles in 2008.

I mean, I let my kids see my Instagram page. They shouldn’t have to look at things like that. Disgusting.

*And finally, a favorite target of the hackers apparently was making it seem like I have a weakness for thinking the Timberwolves are on the verge of a breakthrough after wildly mistaking a small sample size of success for a trend.

The instances of these types of tweets are dotted all throughout the past decade of the manufactured, fictional timeline they would have you believe really represents my true self. Just one example: A tweet from March 10, 2017, asking if the Wolves had turned a corner.

They were 27-37 at the time, following a respectable 13-9 stretch, but their schedule was about to stiffen while their resolve was about to weaken as they drifted out of any sort of contention. All rational people could see that, and indeed that’s what happened en route to a 4-14 record over the final 18 games.

But that’s not what the hackers would have you believe. They want you to believe that I am prone to letting wishful thinking drown out logic.

I can only hope that Wednesday’s long nightmare is not repeated, that the hackers are brought to swift justice and that nobody dares to do this again — particularly not with any trumped-up opinions about the Twins and Mike Pelfrey.