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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Shockingly, it sounds like Josh Gordon's second-hand marijuana smoke defense isn't going to work

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated July 30th at 2:22pm 269261401

joshgordonPer ESPN.com:

Cleveland Browns receiver Josh Gordon‘s claim that secondhand smoke led to his failed marijuana test this offseason might not help him.

“A cornerstone of both of our drug testing programs has always been that you are responsible for what is in your body,” Greg Aiello, NFL senior vice president of communications, said via email Tuesday. “It is stated that way in the policies.”

Sources told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter that Gordon will attribute his one positive sample to secondhand smoke, and that he also will argue a disparity in the two samples he provided.

In other words, it doesn’t matter how the marijuana got in your system, Josh — not that anyone should have believed for a second that second-hand smoke was a plausible excuse.

Wednesday (Disappearing and reappearing Kyle Gibson) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated July 30th at 8:59am 269212321

gibsonA strange split-personality season for Kyle Gibson, one more extreme than we can ever recall seeing, continued Tuesday.

The balance of it adds up to a fully acceptable and even good first full season as a starter, as he is 9-8 with a 3.94 ERA after holding Kansas City scoreless for seven innings in a 2-1 victory.

But how he has arrived at those numbers is simply crazy. It stands to reason that pitchers will have better numbers in their wins than losses, but here is how it breaks down for Gibson in his 20 starts:

Wins (9) and no-decisions (3): 81.1 IP, 53 hits, 1 HR allowed, 5 earned runs allowed for a 0.55 ERA.

Losses (8): 33 IP, 56 hits, 45 ER, 6 HRs allowed, 12.27 ERA.

For frame of reference, let’s go back to 2010 and Carl Pavano’s season, which ended with a 3.75 ERA. He had a 2.32 ERA in wins and a 5.40 ERA in losses. That’s a pretty reasonable split — really good in wins, bad but not blowout bad in losses.

Gibson, though, is basically unhittable in 12 starts the resulted in wins or no decisions and historically bad in the other eight starts.

He has eight starts in which he finished with at least six innings pitched and ZERO earned runs allowed. He also has four starts in which he didn’t make it past three innings and allowed at least five earned runs every time.

We’re not sure what to make of it. Maybe it’s a question of command, and when he has it he is great and when he misses with his location he gets hammered. Maybe it’s just one of those fluky set of circumstances.

We’re not even sure what we would rather have — a guy who throws seven innings a game and allows three runs every time or a guy who has been like Gibson, either lights-out or terrible.

All we know is that it’s bizarre. If he can harness “good Kyle” more often, he’ll be an All-Star. If he descends into “bad Kyle” more often, he’ll be out of the league.

TFD: The Knicks reportedly made an awful attempt at trading for Kevin Love

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated July 29th at 7:04pm 269114621

loverubioFriday is trash day in our neighborhood. It’s so routine that usually we don’t notice until we go to throw more garbage in the big can in the driveway and presto! it’s empty.

This is almost exactly how we feel about a report that we completely missed via the Wall Street Journal a few days ago. On Friday, trash day, it was reported that the Knicks made the grossest of garbage offers for Kevin Love:

The Knicks recently attempted to make a trade for Minnesota Timberwolves star Kevin Love, offering forward Amar’e Stoudemire and his enormous expiring contract, second-year guard Tim Hardaway, Jr. and swingman Iman Shumpert, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

But the long-shot offer, made in the past week, was declined and never stood much of a chance, particularly because the Timberwolves could potentially strike a richer deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers involving No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins.

It also never stood a chance because it is about the worst, most laughable offer imaginable. If it really is true, we feel bad for the level of delusion pervading Knicks President Phil Jackson and we feel sorry that Flip Saunders even had to field the phone call.

Stoudemire does nothing for anyone. Shumpert averaged 6.7 ppg last year and is a restricted free agent in a year. Hardaway averaged 10 points last season.

If it was some sort of elaborate ruse or prank, then maybe we could understand. If the offer was for J.J. Barea and a $100 gift card to Hubert’s, we could understand. If that story ran in The Onion instead of the WSJ, we could understand.

But as a legitimate trade offer? No, we cannot understand.

Evidence of the botched Ray Rice situation all over the Ravens web site

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated July 29th at 7:00pm 269079821

rayriceRavens fans are apparently willing to forgive and — maybe more so — forget that Ray Rice knocked his wife unconscious and dragged her out of an elevator this winter. They do not seem, at least the ones quoted on Ravens.com, to share America’s almost unanimous outrage over Rice’s two-game suspension from the NFL, a punishment that is half as long as that for a repeat marijuana smoker.

But the quotes contained within a Ravens.com story titled “Ravens Fans Give Ray Rice Standing Ovation” and the passages within a post penned by one of their communications guys titled “I like Ray Rice” have more to do with the flaws of the NFL than the fans or author (H/T to Matt Ufford for digging out those stories, by the way).

I have on number 27 to show the fans, and the world, that I am supportive of Ray Rice,” said Jerra Byrd of Randallstown, Md. “He has been forgiven by his wife. He is moving on with his life. He didn’t ask for the two-game suspension.”

“He has been forgiven by his wife” is directly related to that Peter King story linked above in which he reveals Rice’s wife was part of a hearing with the NFL and begged the league to go easy on him. You don’t need us to tell you that there is no way she should have been in that hearing — not in a vulnerable position where there is no way she could freely speak her mind about the incident. And besides, Keith Olbermann says it so much better than we would.

“I’m wearing his jersey because he is still a good man,” added Debbie Lindling of Baltimore.

And this, from the Ravens PR man: “I liked Ray Rice a lot then. I like Ray Rice a lot today. … Like many of us, Ray Rice had a moment in his life he wishes he could take back.”

Again, this speaks to the idea that this was an isolated incident, something portrayed in that King story but also surely part of any Rice narrative from his camp and the Ravens going forward. It could very well be true. Even if it is true, it in no way excuses the one incident caught on graphic video, and furthermore there is absolutely no way we know it to be true — particularly not from the testimony of the abused wife, since as Olbermann notes those who are victims will do anything and say anything if they think it will spare future abuse.

The NFL is enabling this with a comically weak punishment and an even worse follow-up from Senior VP Adolpho Birch on Mike & Mike yesterday.

“In terms of sending a message about what the league stands for, we’ve done that,” Birch said.

Indeed, NFL, you have. Let’s wipe away this “distraction” as quick as possible. Now who wants to see Ray Rice play football!

Tuesday (The Twins and the trading deadline) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated July 29th at 6:56pm 269050431

suzukiNewton’s Third Law of Motion states that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

It’s not likely that the Twins and GM Terry Ryan will specifically be thinking of Sir Isaac as they approach Thursday’s non-waiver trade deadline, but that law does capture the spirit of where the Twins are right now. It’s easy to say “trade anyone and everyone” because the team is not going anywhere for a fourth consecutive season.

But the opposite reaction to dealing Kurt Suzuki, Josh Willingham, Brian Duensing or any of a handful of other players who might have value and are of use to the Twins currently is that they will damage their ability to win games in August and September.

If they’re not going to make the playoffs, who cares?

Well, yes. But there also comes a time when a team has to take a step forward not just in player development — which would be done through trades, in both acquiring younger players for the future and most likely giving young players more opportunities in the present — but in the standings.

The Twins are 47-57, which is a pace that would see them go 73-89. That’s not good. It is also far from a guarantee that they will even keep up that bad pace, since as we have noted multiple times they have reached the 100-game mark each of the past three seasons and taken a nose dive from bad to worse to finish with 99, 96 and 96 losses, respectively.

Is it worth it to hang onto Suzuki in hopes of winning, say, 75 games? Practically speaking, it isn’t. If he’s not going to be here next season, and it sure sounds like he won’t, then why try to inflate this year’s record and hold back other players in the process? The opposite reaction to that, though, is again that there is value in trying to change a culture of losing. And yes, 75-87 or 73-89 would still be a losing record, but would a better chance at a 7-to-9 game improvement and any positive feelings (and possible good will) be worth more than a mid-level prospect acquired in a trade?

We honestly don’t know the answer to that. One way of thinking is logical, the other is more abstract. Smart GMs are probably able to think both ways and understand the big-picture needs of a ballclub in both directions. If the Twins’ clubhouse really is a more confident place than at any point since 2011, as Glen Perkins told us Friday, then there is something to be said, we suppose, for continuity. But if the long-term plan is for Perkins to make the playoffs sometime before his option year of 2018 is done, as he also said, then the emotionless decision is to work toward 2015 and beyond without regard to how this year winds up.

It will be interesting to see which way the Twins go. Suzuki and Willingham, in particular, are guys in the final years of deals who would seem to fetch at least a decent prospect in return. Willingham has the best OPS of any Twins player with at least 200 plate appearances. Suzuki has been their most consistent hitter and a capable handler of pitchers. Take them away and the team is worse. Trade them away and maybe a future team is better.

Action. Opposite reaction. And so on.

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Philadelphia 2 Bottom 7th Inning
NY Mets 4
Milwaukee 4 Top 8th Inning
Tampa Bay 0
Arizona 2 Bottom 7th Inning
Cincinnati 0
Washington 1 Bottom 7th Inning
Miami 1
Oakland 0 Top 2nd Inning
Houston 6
Pittsburgh - C. Morton 2:45 PM
San Francisco - T. Lincecum
LA Angels - G. Richards 6:05 PM
Baltimore - K. Gausman
Seattle - F. Hernandez 6:05 PM
Cleveland - C. Kluber
Chicago WSox - H. Noesi 6:08 PM
Detroit - M. Scherzer
Toronto - M. Buehrle 6:10 PM
Boston - B. Workman
Colorado - B. Anderson 7:05 PM
Chicago Cubs - T. Wood
NY Yankees - H. Kuroda 7:05 PM
Texas - C. Lewis
Minnesota - P. Hughes 7:10 PM
Kansas City - D. Duffy
Atlanta - A. Wood 9:10 PM
Los Angeles - Z. Greinke
St. Louis - J. Kelly 9:10 PM
San Diego - J. Hahn
NY Giants 8/3/14 7:00 PM
Buffalo
Toronto FC 6:00 PM
D.C.
Colorado 6:30 PM
New England
Vancouver FC 7:30 PM
Chicago
Red Bull New York 8:00 PM
Real Salt Lake
Winnipeg 7/31/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Toronto 8/1/14 6:00 PM
Montreal
Brt Columbia 8/1/14 9:00 PM
Calgary
Saskatchewan 8/2/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 8/7/14 7:30 PM
Winnipeg

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