RandBall

Michael Rand started RandBall with hopes that he could convince the world to love jumpsuits as much as he does. So far, he's only succeeded in using the word "redacted" a lot. He welcomes suggestions, news tips, links of pure genius, and pictures of pets in Halloween costumes here, though he already knows he will regret that last part.

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TFD: A chance for Bridgewater to be a legend or Ponder to be an unlikely hero

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated October 2nd at 7:11am 277814181

bridgewaterTeddy Bridgewater is officially listed as questionable for Thursday’s Vikings/Packers game, after doing some light work in practice today.

While we’d still be stunned if he doesn’t play — or at least we’re telling ourselves that so Sid won’t have ridiculous bragging rights and we won’t have to go to his house wearing a Ponder jersey — but questionable is questionable. It’s technically 50-50. So we’re left with this as a dueling best-case scenario:

1) Bridgewater is 90 percent or better and is able to suit up. The ankle hurts a little, but it’s manageable. He performs the same way he did last week, as does the offensive line and running game, while Mike Zimmer’s defense continues to give Aaron Rodgers problems. The Vikings win and Bridgewater is an instant legend — gutting out an injury on a short week to move the Vikings to 3-2, a game ahead of their division rivals, with a road win in hand.

2) Bridgewater can’t play, and Christian Ponder — somehow calmed and with an all-new “who cares, let’s just play” outlook — comes to the rescue. He isn’t as dynamic as Bridgewater was last week, but he makes enough plays with his arms and feet to put the Vikings in position to win — and this time, unlike last season, Minnesota is able to muster one final defensive stand to hold on for a victory.

Are we betting on either of those things? We’d bet harder on the first than the second, though we’d be on the underdog side in either case. But football is weird. It will be worth watching, regardless of which QB gets the nod.

MLB testing new rules to speed up the game during Arizona Fall League

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated October 1st at 1:44pm 277786081

twinsIf we came off a little “grumpy old man-ish” Tuesday by including a notion that baseball is killing itself with extravagant game lengths in our weird post about Mike Leach and Tinder, please do know the upshot is that we really just want baseball to make subtle adjustments to eliminate wasted time.

We’ll gladly watch a game that lasts 3 hours and 2 minutes — the average time of a regular-season game in 2014, nearly 30 minutes longer than what it was a generation ago — if it feels like the time spent is meaningful. We’ll even stick with a game until the bitter end, like last night, because baseball can be just that compelling and has always been our favorite sport.

What drives us crazy is getting nickel-and-dimed — five seconds wasted here, 10 seconds there — by pitchers wandering around near the mound, interminable conferences at the mound, and batters stepping in and out of the box to adjust their batting gloves. There are small things baseball can do to eliminate waste without damaging the integrity of the game.

Fortunately, MLB agrees and will test out some experimental measures during Arizona Fall League play designed to speed up the game. Among the trials:

*Teams will be limited to three meetings at the mound per game, with the exception of pitching changes. That includes catchers.

*Intentional walks will be automatic, with no pitches thrown.

*Hitters will be required to keep one foot in the batter’s box throughout an at-bat, except during foul balls, wild pitches and passed balls.

*At one ballpark, a 20-second clock will keep pitchers and hitters on a schedule.

We will be very interested to see what impact these measures, and a few others, have on the pace of the game. If MLB could even shave 10 minutes off its average game time — 10 minutes that are largely wasted right now — it would go a long way.

Wednesday (Will Twins ever be Royals?) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated October 2nd at 6:44am 277748481

Pop sensation Lorde wrote her biggest hit, “Royals,” after seeing a picture of George Brett from 1976. This is a true fact. You can look it up. They have even had their picture taken together since.

Kansas City was one of MLB’s model franchises during much of Brett’s era, making the postseason seven times in 10 seasons between 1976 and 1985 — and winning the World Series in that final appearance.

It sounds a lot like the Twins’ run of six division titles in nine seasons from 2002-10 (minus the World Series, of course). And it is also a reminder that there are no guarantees of a swift return to prominence.

Kansas City waited 29 years before returning to the postseason, cracking the code this year with a Wild Card berth. What happened Tuesday night was nearly three decades in the making. The game could have turned out any number of ways, but the way it did finish — with comeback after comeback by the host Royals, including two runs in the bottom of the 12th after being taken to the brink in the top half by the A’s — seemed like it was the only natural way to end.

It was a thrilling, gripping game — very reminiscent of Game 163 between the Twins and Tigers in 2009. Yes, that was only five years ago. It feels like more, but really that was it. The Twins even made it back to the playoffs the next year, too.

Minnesota has a long way to go when it comes to feeling KC’s pain of playoff droughts. But when you’re on the downswing, as the Twins have been for the past four years, it can start to feel like forever pretty fast.

Lorde declares “we’ll never be royals” in her song, which is about something entirely different than baseball. At this point, we’re left to shift it to a question: Will the Twins ever be Royals — and if so, how soon?

TFD: Ex-NFL player Warren Sapp a little too enthusiastic about Ebola reaching the U.S.

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated September 30th at 4:46pm 277658361

Sobering news today: Ebola has been confirmed in the United States. This not funny in any way.

What is funny, in our warped mind, is the strange reaction from former NFL player Warren Sapp via Twitter, both in terms of punctuation and hashtag. Maybe it’s just us.

Bill Belichick the GM is making life hard on Bill Belichick the coach

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated September 30th at 3:24pm 277638711

belichickBill Belichick is probably the best head coach in the NFL. But he also has almost complete control over his roster, and that authority — which worked for a long time, though also used to have a better system of checks and balances before Scott Pioli went to the Chiefs in 2009 — is compromising his ability to effectively coach on the field.

This is becoming more evident this season, as the Patriots’ roster gets worse and worse. Mike Sando from ESPN.com (Insider) broke down what most people can already see:

Four of the 21 offensive draft choices since 2010 are regular starters. That list includes Nate SolderMarcus Cannon, Rob Gronkowski and Stevan Ridley, but only Gronkowski is a building-block player, and only if he can regain top form following yet another injury.

Solder, Gronkowski, Shane Vereen, Dobson, Ridley, Price, Ryan Mallett and Jimmy Garoppolo were the offensive players Belichick has selected in the first three rounds since 2010.

Hernandez should be headlining the offensive players New England has drafted in the middle rounds over those same five drafts, but he’s in jail. That leaves Boyce, Bryan StorkJames White, Cannon, Cameron Fleming and Lee Smith as the offensive players New England has drafted in the fourth and fifth rounds. The late-round guys — Jon Halapio, Ted Larsen, Thomas Welch, Ebert, Gallon and Zac Robinson — aren’t doing the Patriots any good right now.

A lack of talent catches up to you at a certain point, no matter how good your schemes and QB are. With Tom Brady aging and the players around him getting worse, it shouldn’t be surprising to see New England lose in the fashion it did Monday.

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San Francisco - WP: M. Bumgarner 8 FINAL
Pittsburgh - LP: E. Volquez 0
Minnesota 7:25 PM
Green Bay
Buffalo 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Chicago 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Cleveland 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
St. Louis 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Atlanta 10/5/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Tampa Bay 10/5/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Houston 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Dallas
Baltimore 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Pittsburgh 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Arizona 10/5/14 3:05 PM
Denver
Kansas City 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
NY Jets 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Diego
Cincinnati 10/5/14 7:30 PM
New England
Seattle 10/6/14 7:30 PM
Washington
Washington 1 FINAL
Buffalo 6
Carolina 3 FINAL
Columbus 6
Pittsburgh 2 FINAL
Detroit 0
Montreal 3 FINAL
Chicago 1
Arizona 2 FINAL
Edmonton 3
Fla Atlantic 6:00 PM
FIU
UCF 6:00 PM
Houston
Arizona 9:30 PM
(2) Oregon
Louisville 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Syracuse
San Diego St 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Utah State 10/3/14 9:15 PM
(18) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(12) Miss State
Ball State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Army
Iowa State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(21) Oklahoma State
Marshall 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Old Dominion
Southern Miss 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Middle Tennessee
(20) Ohio State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Maryland
Purdue 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Florida 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
SMU 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(22) East Carolina
Virginia Tech 10/4/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Eastern Mich 10/4/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Texas 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Indiana
Massachusetts 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Tulsa 10/4/14 2:00 PM
Colorado State
New Mexico 10/4/14 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
(3) Alabama 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(11) Ole Miss
(14) Stanford 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(9) Notre Dame
(17) Wisconsin 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Navy 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
(7) Baylor 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Texas
(4) Oklahoma 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(25) TCU
Wake Forest 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
NC State 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Clemson
Buffalo 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Bowling Green
Ohio U 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich
Oregon State 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Colorado
Vanderbilt 10/4/14 3:00 PM
(13) Georgia
Kansas 10/4/14 3:00 PM
West Virginia
Kent State 10/4/14 4:00 PM
Northern Ill
South Alabama 10/4/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St
Texas-El Paso 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
(15) LSU 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
UAB 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Ky
Texas Tech 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(23) Kansas State
Michigan 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rutgers
Hawaii 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rice
Toledo 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Mich
ULM 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Georgia State 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
Idaho 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Texas State
Memphis 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Arizona State 10/4/14 6:30 PM
(16) USC
So Carolina 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Kentucky
Pittsburgh 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Virginia
Miami-Florida 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Georgia Tech
(19) Nebraska 10/4/14 7:00 PM
(10) Michigan State
UNLV 10/4/14 7:00 PM
San Jose St
Ga Southern 10/4/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Utah 10/4/14 9:30 PM
(8) UCLA
Boise State 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Winnipeg 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Edmonton 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Hamilton 10/10/14 6:00 PM
Toronto
Ottawa 10/11/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia

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