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Welcome to Losersville!

Plus whole lotta labor links, muddying the Muddy Paws miracle, and celebs galore Up North in today's Flyover news roundup.

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Bad things happen in these buildings.

Welcome back to The Flyover, your daily midday digest of what local media outlets and Twitter-ers are gabbing about.

ESPN: Local Sports Historically Abysmal

Extra! Extra! Minnesota sports teams—outside of our dynastic Lynx and college hockey squads—have largely stunk for 32 years. (The author of this Flyover installment is 36, for context, but he's also a lifelong Packer fan... 😬) So writes locally based ESPN staffer Kevin Seifert in this long, excruciating journey through decades of heartbreak and rake-stepping by the Vikings, Timberwolves, Twins, and Wild. "The span of 32 title-free years, extended at times via comically unlikely scenarios, is the longest active streak among the nation's 13 markets with all four leagues present," Seifert notes of the above teams. "It's a decade longer than the next-most starved market in Arizona." Oof.

Some of our franchises are historically inept, like the Wolves with their NBA-worst .333 lifetime winning percentage, but others, like the Vikings, boast impressive win rates before crumbling in the postseason. "Most of the teams here have found ways to be competitive and give our fan bases hope that they were going to be the next to win a championship," Twins President/CEO Dave St. Peter says. "But at the end of the day it comes down to winning, and unfortunately Minnesota fans have grown accustomed to just being the Charlie Brown of sports, waiting for Lucy to pull away the ball." Rare candor from a man of his profile! Seifert even manages to connect with one of the devastated blondes pictured in this too-perfect photo from the Vikings's gutting NFC Championship Game that concluded the 1998 season—ya know, the Gary Anderson kick. "The look on my face in that photo was as genuine as it gets," Heidi Owens says, reflecting on the L to the Atlanta Falcons.

Do yourself a (perhaps painful) favor and read the whole piece.

Union Membership Down; Grocery Unions Feisty

Time was, most major daily newspapers in the country employed labor reporters. But then the past 45 years happened, erasing most of those beats and giving us the following chart:

Minnesota Reformer's Max Nesterak, especially over the past year, has helped fill that labor reporting vacuum. His weekly union news roundup, The Break Room, is must-read stuff and he helps keep capital accountable with deep-drive stories like today's on Minnesota's declining union membership. The percentage of union Minnesotans dipped from 14.2% to 13.3% in 2023, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, meaning our state is trending toward the national average of 10%. Or is it? Nesterak chatted with labor experts who said that, in addition to imprecise BLS data, non-union job growth may have diluted the that 14.2% figure. Plus, even more optimistically, the leader of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota & Iowa says freshly formed unions that haven't inked initial collective-bargaining agreements likely aren't counted yet. But Nesterak isn't overly rosy, pointing to the decades-long bludgeoning the labor movement has endured (he even includes the famous graph above). Ope!

Elsewhere in locally angled labor news: Jacobin just highlighted the increasing feistiness of Minnesota's biggest grocery union. Writer Lisa Xu chats with workers from stores like Cub Foods, Kowalski's, Lunds & Byerlys, and Seward Community Coop who went on strike in recent months, and praises the more aggressive leadership of newish UFCW Local 663 President Rena Wong. “[Striking] really united workers at our store,” Doug Olson, a Cub Foods worker in Baxter, tells Xu. “Men and women, part-time, full-time, people of all different political beliefs. It’s really heartening to see the unity we’ve had.” Wong, whose union reps around 17,000 total Minnesota workers, certainly doesn't mess around; last year she told Racket, "We could not have a normal set of negotiations given how disrespectful these first sets of proposals were.” Her Twin Cities members ended up winning a contract after authorizing, but ultimately never acting on, a strike vote.

Muddy Paws Saga Feels Mighty Fishy

HMMM. That's the sound you'd hear around Racket HQ as a breathless media cycle swirled around Muddy Paws Cheesecake, the St. Louis Park bakery that made surplus feel-good headlines last month. Owner Tami Cabrera said her 30-year-old biz was on the verge of closure due to $480,000 (!!!) in debt, and launched a #SaveMuddyPaws crowdfunding campaign to, well, save Muddy Paws. Camping World CEO/TV personality Marcus Lemonis—a self-dubbed "altruistic capitalist," hmmm—heeded the call, ordering $40,000 worth of cheesecake and agreeing to help Cabrera right her financial ship.

Problem is, as reported today by the Star Tribune, Lemonis discovered that $307,000 of Cabrera's apparent debt was, in fact, a loan she had made payable to herself. Lemonis erased that red ink from the books, in addition to overhauling the company website and reducing available cake flavors from 222 (!!!) to seven. "Money owed to yourself never, ever passes the smell test with me," Lemonis said via Instagram, adding that he was "disappointed" in Cabrera but happy with her course correction. "I'm not saying that it's technically incorrect or that you've done anything from an accounting standpoint that is wrong... but a business owner that owns 100% of their business cannot have money owed to them."

Any mention of the donation campaign, which had raised just $18,700, has been scrubbed from the new Muddy Paws website; the owner declined to further address her salary ordeal with the Strib.

Stars, Presidents Invade the Arrowhead

As we careen into the weekend, we'll leave you with two widely publicized yet unavoidably interesting developments from Up North.

First up: President Joe Biden joined Sen. Amy Klobuchar and some hard-hat boys Thursday at Superior, Wisconsin's Earth Rider Brewery to celebrate $1 billion in federal cash going toward rebuilding the Twin Ports-spanning John A. Blatnik Memorial Bridge. (Rep. Pete Stauber, a noted doofus, praised the project despite not voting for the bipartisan infrastructure bill that funded it over concerns it'd "[pave] a destructive and irreversible path towards socialism.”) Biden, seen below in a tweet from Racket's Northland Suds Correspondent Kaylee Matuszak, sounds like he enjoyed six or seven Eagle Mountain Double IPAs at the rally inside Earth Rider.

Finally, we bring you photographic evidence that twink heartthrob Timothée Chalamet visited Hibbing High School's spectacular (and spooktacularly haunted) theater yesterday to prep for his role in the upcoming Bob Dylan biopic, A Complete Unknown. (Dylan, famously, is from here, though the Minnesota Film & TV Board says the new movie isn't set here.) Chalamet, who charmed a sandwich saleswoman earlier that day in Duluth, was reportedly a true mensch while hanging out with students during a rehearsal for The Girl in the White Pinafore. And here are those promised photos, courtesy of Flom Designs and Photography:

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