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Patrick Reusse has been covering sports in the Twin Cities since 1968.

Reusse: Vikings have lost six of seven and know who to blame (The refs)

Mark Craig performed a service for Vikings followers in Friday’s Star Tribune by providing the proper sequence to explain the Purple lads’ sixth defeat in seven games on Thursday night:

Brian Robison made what could have been the play for which his career would be remembered late in the third period, with Dallas deep in its territory and holding a 7-6 lead.

The Cowboys’ predicament started when Robison was blowing past Gavin Escobar and the tight end corralled the veteran defensive end to draw a holding penalty.

That put the Cowboys at first-and-20, and then Robison exploded off the left side again and knocked the ball from quarterback Dak Prescott’s right hand a tick before the rookie was going to bring it forward to make a throw.

Robison’s long-time partner from the right side, Everson Griffen, plopped on the ball at the Dallas 19.

At that point, the Cowboys’ previously dynamic offense had been dominated by the Vikings for most of three quarters. As Robison came off the field shouting in fierce celebration, Dallas was a rattled looking bunch.

Again, the Cowboys’ stumbling offense had put itself in position to rely on what had been an extremely flawed defense.

How flawed? A week earlier, in the traditional Thanksgiving game in Dallas, the Redskins had compiled 449 yards passing and 505 total yards vs. the Cowboys ... yet somehow lost 31-26.

As offensively challenged as it has been, this was now the time for the Vikings offense to reach the end zone while in firm possession of the pigskin:

First-and-10 at the Dallas 19, against a vulnerable defense that had been quickly put back on the field by the Prescott fumble.

The Jaguars would have gotten a touchdown here. Heck, the Brownies would have gotten a touchdown here.

The Vikings followed form and wound up kicking a 33-yard field goal, which Kai Forbath bounced in off the inside of the right goal post. That gave the home team a 9-7 lead, which was far too little.

As Craig wrote in the lead of his “On the NFL’’ column: “There was way, way, waaay too much cheering’’ from the customers for the Forbath field goal.

Much later, the Vikings had managed a 17-15 defeat, and their media house men and zealous fans were choosing to blame the failure to call a facemask penalty on a two-point conversion attempt near game’s end.

Dallas’ Cedric Thornton did get his hands on Sam Bradford’s facemask as he stormed the quarterback on that potential game-tying play.

Of course, there’s now also evidence that tackle T.J. Clemmings had a clear false start as he backed up before the snap. If that was called, the Vikings would’ve had the two-false start exacta of Jeremiah Sirles on the right side and Clemmings on the left, and would’ve been trying the two-point conversion from the 12.

Apparently, no one was more upset in the home locker room with the officiating than Robison. The main issue was the Bradford facemask, but Robison also was suggesting missed penalties throughout the game.

He’s a defensive end, so this would ‘ve been a postgame request for more holds to have been called. Every receiver wants interference on all non-catches, and every defensive end wants a hold any time he is contained.

Overall, I would say the Vikings did very well in the area of illegal containment penalties with Thursday’s officiating crew.

On Dallas’ third possession in the first period, Ezekiel Elliott thundered away on a 42-yard run that would have put the Cowboys inside the Vikings 20. It was called back by a holding penalty on right tackle Doug Free.

On the first possession of the second half, Escobar was called for a marginal clipping penalty that quickly killed a drive and led to a punt.

On the second possession, Escobar’s hold against Robison created the first-and-20, which was followed by Robison’s strip sack, which was followed by “waaaay’’ too much cheering for a field goal.

On the next series, Elliott was called for a holding penalty that led to another punt. Adam Thielen fumbled that one and set up the Cowboys’ second touchdown, which I don’t think was the officials’ fault, but with this level of whining, who knows?

Reusse blog: Fidel, revolution, pitch framing and the mystery of Class B baseball in Minnesota

My father Richard and his pal Joe Miller would start drinking coffee in our kitchen before 7 on most mornings. Occasionally, they would be working on an idea to make both of them rich, but more often it was a discussion of world events.

The topic for most of 1958 was Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution. As I recall, Richard and Joe were enamored with the progress the revolutionaries, with their ragtag appearance, were making in the attempt to overthrow Fulgencio Batista.

Hey, Batista was a dictator, and with this fat guy in the Soviet Union, Nikita Kruschev, promising to the West, “We will bury you,'' we had a bad opinion in Fulda, Minn. of people considered to be dictators.

OK, Nikita had a different title, but we saw him to be an awful Commie dictator.

Castro’s revolution became officially successful on Jan. 1, 1959. You had to be much more locked into international politics than Richard and Joe to realize at that moment the Castro plan was also to become an awful Commie dictator.

Fidel finally died Friday at age 90. His brother Raul has been in charge for a while as Fidel’s health was failing.

There was little noise in our recent noisy Presidential election over Cuba and President Obama’s attempt to allow commerce and end the half-century standoff with the island's Communist government.

I’m hoping The Trumpeter and his Republican Congress choose to continue down that road, for at least two very important reasons:

I have cigar-smoking friends who truly love their Cubans, and open access to all Cuban talent – not just defectors – will further expand the talent pool for Major League Baseball.

Note: George Brophy, Calvin Griffith’s main man in Twins’ baseball operation for many years, once showed me a copy of the Washington Senators’ brief scouting report on Fidel Castro as a Cuban pitching prospect.

There was not enough encouragement in the report to convince Papa Joe Cambria, the Griffiths’ talent procurer in Cuba, to sign him.

Forgetting about time and geography, if Fidel Castro (Biran, Cuba) only had Jason Castro (Castro Valley, Calif.) to frame his pitches back then, Fidel could have been signed by Papa Joe, made it to the big leagues, discovered the joys of Capitalism and there never would have been a Communist regime in Cuba.

That's purely speculation, of course.

*

There are three classes in Minnesota town team baseball:

Class A is for Twin Cities teams. It has a connection to the state baseball board, but Class A basically runs itself. The state tournament is over by the middle of August, at the same time the Class B and C tournaments are getting started at towns in outstate Minnesota.

The Class B and C tournaments are held in concert over three weekends, winding up on Labor Day. There was a total paid attendance of 15,500 in Dassel and Hutchinson (as well as 11 of 66 games that were played in Litchfield) last summer – the largest paid attendance since 1998.

How many beers sold that amounted to is anyone’s guess.

The B and C tournaments will be held with three official sites next summer: Green Isle, Hamburg and Norwood. A revised schedule will eliminate Thursday games (they don’t draw) and some late Sunday night games (an inconvenience for all involved).

The ongoing problem is what to do with Class B. For the most part, teams assigned to B are based on either population, or a tradition of playing a higher brand of baseball, or the state board's whim.

Joe Kreger, a board member (and also the newly elected mayor of Green Isle), has admitted that how a team winds up in Class B is the greatest mystery this side of the Voynich Manuscript.

Actually, Joe didn’t refer to the Voynich Manuscript, but it’s my favorite mystery because it’s written in a language that no one has been able to trace … which is exactly like the rules for Class B assignments.

The state board’s Class B problem is that those teams don’t draw fans as do the teams representing Class C (many of which are hamlets).

There will be roughly 40 teams in Class B next summer for 16 spots in the state tournament. There will roughly 280 teams in Class C with 48 spots in the single-elimination state tournament.

The state board has come up with another modified proposal for the Class B playoffs: Four regions with four teams qualifying from each region.

“We have to try to do something,’’ Kreger said. “We’ve had eight geographical regions; last summer, one had three teams. We had two B teams, Blaine and Moorhead, that didn’t have to win a game to make it to the state tournament.

“We have our next board meeting in January. If this becomes the format, it will balance out the competition to earn spots in B the tournament. We’re hoping that four good regions will be better for everyone.’’

TV Listings

Local Schedule

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  • Timberwolves at New York

    6:30 pm on FSN, 830-AM

  • Ohio State at Gophers men's hockey

    8 pm on BTN, 1500-AM

  • Wild at Calgary

    8 pm on FSN PLUS, 100.3-FM

  • Detroit at Gophers women's basketball

    2 pm on 1500-AM

  • Gophers women's hockey at Wisconsin

    3:30 pm

  • Timberwolves at Charlotte

    6 pm on FSN, 830-AM

  • Ohio State at Gophers men's hockey

    7 pm on FSN PLUS, 1500-AM

  • Gophers men's basketball vs. Vanderbilt at Sioux Falls, S.D.

    7 pm on 1500-AM

  • Gophers women's hockey at Wisconsin

    2 pm

  • Wild at Edmonton

    8:30 pm on FSN, 100.3-FM

  • NJIT at Gophers men's basketball

    7 pm on BTN, 1500-AM

  • San Antonio at Timberwolves

    7 pm on FSN, NBATV, 830-AM

  • Gophers women's basketball at New Mexico

    8 pm on 88.5-FM

  • Wild at Toronto

    6:30 pm on FSN, 100.3-FM

  • Timberwolves at Toronto

    6 pm on TNT, 830-AM

  • Army at Gophers women's basketball

    8 pm on BTN, 1500-AM

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Today's Scoreboard

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    7:00 PM

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    7:00 PM

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  • Washington

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    7:30 PM

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    9:30 PM

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    FSN Plus

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