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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Thursday (If Bridgewater can play, he should play) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated October 2nd at 9:53am 277887851

teddyfridgewaterThat might seem like the most obvious headline we’ve ever written, but sadly it is not because modern logic when it comes to sports is all messed up.

Here’s the deal with Teddy Bridgewater: If he’s healthy enough to play — not necessarily 100 percent because once you get into the season, few players remain 100 percent — he should play. It does not matter that sitting him tonight would give Bridgewater extra time to heal for next week. It does not matter that it’s supposed to rain. It does not matter that he is a rookie.

What matters is that, if healthy enough to play, he is the best option the Vikings have at quarterback. He could very well have a bright future ahead, and it is important not to unnecessarily expose him to a higher risk of re-injuring the ankle IF he is not healthy enough to play.

But the future vanishes into the present quickly every year. Right now, the Vikings are 2-2 in the NFC North. It’s a mediocre division that figures to be wide open until the end. Even if this started out as a rebuilding year, the present says this: a win tonight would put the Vikings at 3-2, one game ahead of their border rivals and with a road victory already in hand. Detroit might be 3-1 now, but the Packers are still this division’s biggest threat.

As such, a win would put the Vikings in a very nice position going forward. That doesn’t mean they should play Bridgewater at all costs. But it means that if he is healthy enough to play, he should because the only thing that really matters is that he gives the Vikings the best chance to win right now.

That sentiment gets lost sometimes on fans who give up on seasons when they are barely started, preferring instead to be seduced by the potential of the future. Might as well start tanking now! Get that high draft pick!

No. Win. Always try to win. Feel free to gaze off into the future every now and then, but on game day keep both eyes fixed on the present. That means Teddy if he’s healthy.

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.

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Detroit - M. Scherzer 4:37 PM
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LA Angels - J. Weaver
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(3) Alabama 10/4/14 2:30 PM
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Navy 10/4/14 2:30 PM
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(7) Baylor 10/4/14 2:30 PM
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(15) LSU 10/4/14 6:00 PM
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