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: Looks like ex-Viking WR Greg Jennings is about to find a new team (update)

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated April 1st at 10:22am 298208781

When the Vikings traded for Mike Wallace a few weeks back, people immediately wondered what would happen with Greg Jennings. The answer came quickly, when the team announced it was releasing the veteran WR, who was well-liked in his two years here but didn’t produce like a top-end receiver.

The parting was amicable, and Jennings even released a statement thanking the team and fans.

It seems as though Jennings is about to find gainful new employment. He tweeted this on Tuesday:

While Jennings didn’t leave any clues about where he is headed, Miami has been considered a possible landing spot. It would be interesting if he and Wallace essentially trade places — after both signed as free agents with the Vikings and Miami, respectively, in 2013.

UPDATE: OK, maybe Jennings isn’t really signing somewhere else soon. The whole series of tweets, which kept building throughout Tuesday night, culminated in a lame April Fools’ Day joke. Let’s all go back to not particularly caring where Jennings winds up, at least until it actually happens.

Good read: Twins pitcher Trevor May and the art of being 'present'

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated March 31st at 3:20pm 298189341

trevormayThree weeks ago, I saw a tweet from Trevor May, a Twins pitching prospect who was in camp at the time (and has since been sent down to Class AAA Rochester). It read, simply:

Consistently being mindful and present is the most underrated skill a person could have.

As someone who has dabbled in the areas of meditation and mindfulness — dipping toes in the water and wanting to jump in further when I can — it struck me as interesting on both a personal level and professional level. I jotted it down as a possible future story idea.

While I might still ask May about it at some point if/when he makes it to the big league club for good, Al Melchior from CBS Sports was seemingly curious as well and has a great piece on May that answers a lot of my questions. Here’s a sampling of what May does in attempt to stay in the moment:

That entails a daily meditation practice, which normally involves sitting or laying down for periods of 10-to-20 minutes, doing nothing but breathing and noticing what he notices. This isn’t just recharging in order to deal with the demands of being a professional ballplayer. For May, this is a form of practice in the same way that a bullpen session is practice. These extended periods of silence prepare May for the emotional ups and downs of pitching in game situations. He sees his ability to stay even through these emotional waves as an even more critical factor to his success than the actual execution of his pitches.

To understand the importance of May’s mindfulness practice to his performance, it helps to understand how he approaches in-game situations. He views every pitch as a three-step process. First, he determines what pitch he wants to throw and where to throw it. Second, he gets his mind in a focused state. Third, he executes the pitch. So while Yogi Berra said 90 percent of the game is half mental, May’s game is two-thirds mental. And if the first two steps of pitching — the mental steps — aren’t executed properly, the physical work of making the actual pitch is all for naught.

The extended story delves deeper into May’s ups and downs, while also taking a look at the mental side of sports as an emerging frontier. It’s worth a read, for sure, whether you are casually interested about May or more deeply interested in the larger topics broached.

Tuesday (Old football cards, old gum) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated March 31st at 10:13am 298141321

ronnielottSaturday-Monday was three-day birthday extravaganza. Saturday we celebrated my wife Julie’s birthday; Sunday we celebrated our daughter Anabel’s first birthday. And Monday, I took the day off and the three of us spent a family day together since Monday was both Julie and Anabel’s actual birthday.

It was a great three days, and both of them received a great many gifts. Anabel received a Jeff Skinner Carolina Hurricanes doll that she refers to as “dada,” and quite frankly it does look look a lot more like me than it looks like him.

One of the gifts for Julie came from Dana Wessel and his special lady friend, Heather. It was a perfectly lovely and normal gift, but it also came with a special bonus: a pack of football cards.

Julie opened the gift late Saturday, after her party, and I was drawn immediately, of course, to the idea of football cards. She opened the pack, and I blurted out, “Is there gum!?” It was a pack of Topps, that was all I could see for the moment, and yes there was gum.

I grabbed the stick; sports card gum is almost always chalky and firm, so I thought nothing of it when this felt particularly chalky and firm. I immediately popped it in and started to chew, noticing that it strangely began disintegrating in my mouth.

“This will get better in a few seconds,” I thought.

And then I started to look through the pack of cards. … Wow, this player can’t possibly still be in the league can he? … Whoa, Ronnie Lott? Nice! But he retired forever ago. Then I finally looked at the FRONT of the package.

These weren’t your average, everyday football cards that you would pick up at a convenience store. This was a pack of cards from 1989. That meant the cards were awesome … but the gum, which was in fact NOT improving but only getting worse by the second, was 26 years old.

Immediately I ran to the kitchen sink and spit out the tiny fragments of chalky, cardboard-esque football card gum. I think I could still taste it 24 hours later.

Moral of the story: if Dana Wessel (or anyone, really, but probably Dana Wessel) gives you a pack of football cards, always check the year first before you try the gum.

Friday ($19 bloody Mary at Target Field, with pizza slice) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated March 27th at 12:32pm 297788381

Expensive novelty food items seem to be the rage at sports stadiums these days. The Arizona Diamondbacks revealed a $25 corn dog last year. The Texas Rangers unleashed a $26 hot dog a few years ago. The Packers sell a $20 hamburger.

Not to be outdone, Hrbek’s at Target Field will now offer a $19 bloody Mary.

Per a tweet from former Twins great Kent Hrbek himself, displaying some of the new items his spot will carry this year, here’s more about the “College Daze Bloody Mary”:

“This bloody Mary will bring back the memories (or not)! This cool bloody Mary gets a cold slice of pepperoni pizza, which is just what you need with a bloody Mary! If that wasn’t enough, you get all the other fixings! Beef stick, pepper jack and cheddar cheese cubes, pepperoncini, olive, celery and a pickle spear. Served with a Bud Light beer back.”

We have to admit, it looks kind of amazing. That said, it’s hard to imagine spending $19 on a bloody Mary, novelty or not. Is it crazy to charge that much, or are you tempted to try it?

'Vikings bricks' web site inspires unintended Twitter consequences

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated March 27th at 7:25am 297696311

You can buy a “legacy brick” with a commemorative inscription to be placed inside the new Vikings stadium. This kind of thing isn’t new; in this case, it isn’t cheap: anywhere from $160 to $360, depending on the size and type of brick you want.

A lot of Vikings fans will likely be into this. They’ll want to have a family message — perhaps a deceased loved one who was a big purple fan — or some such thing. This is the intended target audience.

However: there is a feature on the site that suggests:

Not sure what to put on your brick? CLICK HERE to test your inscription on a live Minnesota Legacy brick and see what others are putting on theirs.

And this is where Twitter has decided to take over. Nick Halter from Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal appears to be the one who started the #VikingsBricks hashtag on Twitter. From there, the clever (and some not so clever) folks took over with their own personalized inscriptions for the Vikings, which they then posted for the world to see. Here are some of the best/worst (at least of the printable ones), depending on how you want to look at it. The Vikings, to their credit, appear to be enjoying the fun, too.

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NY Mets 2 FINAL
Washington 0
Pittsburgh 7 FINAL
Detroit 3
Miami 3 FINAL
St. Louis 2
Boston - WP: K. Couch 11 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: C. Reavis 8
NY Yankees - LP: M. Tanaka 1 FINAL
Minnesota - WP: T. Milone 3
Tampa Bay 4 FINAL
Baltimore 3
Philadelphia 6 FINAL
Toronto 10
Chicago Cubs 15 FINAL
Texas 10
Cincinnati - WP: M. Lorenzen 10 FINAL
Milwaukee - LP: M. Fiers 4
Colorado 3 FINAL
San Francisco 4
Chicago WSox 2 FINAL
Los Angeles 1
Seattle 6 FINAL
Cleveland 8
Oakland - WP: J. Fuller 13 FINAL
LA Angels - LP: B. Loconsole 10
Texas 7 FINAL
Arizona 8
Houston 8 FINAL
Atlanta 5
Kansas City 4 FINAL
San Diego 1
Atlanta 95 FINAL
Detroit 105
Indiana 106 FINAL
Brooklyn 111
San Antonio 95 FINAL
Miami 81
Golden State 110 FINAL
LA Clippers 106
New Jersey 2 FINAL(OT)
Columbus 3
Carolina 2 FINAL
Washington 4
Florida 2 FINAL
Boston 3
Ottawa 2 FINAL(SO)
Detroit 1
Tampa Bay 1 FINAL
Toronto 3
NY Rangers 3 FINAL
Winnipeg 2
Vancouver 5 FINAL(SO)
Nashville 4
UT Martin 66 FINAL
Evansville 79
Miami-Florida 60 FINAL
Temple 57
NJIT 61 FINAL
Northern Ariz 68
Stanford 67 FINAL
Old Dominion 60

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