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: Vikings shouldn't be tempted to scratch WR itch with Brandon Marshall

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated March 5th at 3:43pm 295237281

marshallWe do love the idea of shiny things, splashy free agency moves. They’re not always practical, but the make for good conversation.

But when it comes to the notion of the Vikings making a play for Brandon Marshall — the talented WR whom the Bears are reportedly seeking to trade — let’s please just shut it down. Just say no.

Esteemed colleague Matt Vensel took a swing at this already in his mailbag today, and we’d like to pile onto what he wrote.

For as good as Marshall is/can be, this is not the time for the Vikings to make a play for a costly impact player. This is a year in which they need to draft another wide receiver in one of the first three rounds and hope that that player, Cordarrelle Patterson or Charles Johnson develops into a No. 1 receiver.

As nice as it would be for Teddy Bridgewater to have another sure-thing veteran, Greg Jennings is already filling that role. His production does not match Marshall’s production, and his $11 million cap number is hefty. But even if the Vikings cut Jennings to make a play for Marshall, the price to pay in a trade wouldn’t make sense for a rebuilding team.

Marshall — if he’s traded at all — should go to a team that is a wide receiver away from true contention, not an improving team that figures to be at least a year or two away from being a serious threat.

And the Vikings should set their sites on patience and minor upgrades in more important areas.

Thursday (Fretting over overworking Dubnyk) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated March 5th at 10:42am 295189741

The law of a Minnesota sports fan states that when things are going bad, you will find silver linings … and when things are going good, you will find things to worry about.

When the Wild was awful in the middle of this season, fans found a silver lining: if the goaltedubnyk2nding would only improve, this team might have a chance.

The Wild traded for Devan Dubnyk, he’s been fantastic … and now fans are naturally worried that he’s going to be overworked. He has made 21 consecutive starts for the Wild, tying the team record.

That’s a nice run, and by modern standards that qualifies Dubnyk as a workhorse. The real fretting is coming about in earnest now, though, as the Wild has five sets of back-to-back games between now and the end of the regular season — starting tonight and Friday against Washington and Carolina.

The worrying is very Minnesotan. But it’s also very subjective and bordering on nonsense. By virtue of not being the No. 1 goalie in Arizona before being traded here, Dubnyk still ranks just 23rd in the NHL in games played among goalies this season. So he’s fresher than a lot of other netminders right now, assuming he takes care of himself.

More than that, though, being “tired” is often as much of a mental game as it is a physical game. In that sense, it will affect us as much as we let it affect us. If goalies are supposed to rest on one end of back-to-back games, that becomes the accepted norm.

Here’s the bottom line: If Dubnyk can play and wants to play, he should play. Because there’s no rule that says he can’t — just a shift in expectations over the years.

This is the extreme, but Glenn Hall started more than 550 consecutive games in goal spanning more than seven full seasons (including playoffs) in the 1950s and 1960s. Sure, this was a different era, and with six teams in the league — none on the West Coast — travel was shorter. But it was also a different era of travel comfort and recovery methods. Performance-enhancing drugs, by and large, were cigarettes and bourbon.

We went back and looked at Hall’s streak. During the seven full seasons in which Hall played every game (490 games in 70-game seasons), he played both ends of back-to-backs during the regular season 148 times (including a back-to-back-to-back Jan. 1-3, 1960). So 296 of his 490 starts were in back-to-backs.

Every goalie is different. Every body is different. Hall was a maniac who didn’t even wear a mask or helmet during his streak.

We’re not suggesting Dubnyk should be Hall. What we are suggesting is that playing back-to-back games is all a matter of perspective and that it’s not crazy to think Dubnyk can play through this final month — or at least until the Wild is safely into the playoffs — as long as his body feels good and he remains stout in goal.

The only crazy thing is worrying about it before it happens.

TFD: Breaking down Adrian Peterson hugging Spielman and Zimmer

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated March 4th at 6:29pm 295083151

Adrian Peterson hugged Vikings GM Rick Spielman and coach Mike Zimmer outside his Texas home today. There’s proof, on the TV.

Frankly, we’re surprised we haven’t been deluged with emails from public relations contacts trying to get us to interview hug experts.

(Actually, we’re kind of sad about this. Maybe there aren’t hug experts? Maybe we could become one?)

Peterson met with the two Vikings reps for four hours, and the meeting went well, and blah blah blah back to the hugs.

Our breathtaking analysis:

*Peterson did not initiate the first hug with Spielman. AP was going in for a casual handshake, from what we could see, but Rick called an audible and went in for the hug. Peterson seemed fine with it. After that, it was only natural for Zimmer and Peterson to hug. A handshake would have been weird.

*All three guys showed some solid bro-hug technique. The hugs were of appropriate length and scope.

*Spielman spends more on the tailoring of his sport coats than Zimmer. Peterson looked like he was dressed to attend a volleyball match.

*We wouldn’t read to much into the hugs other than that it’s probably a good sign that when Spielman went for the hug, Peterson didn’t instead punch him in the face.

And this concludes our report on the Peterson Hugs.

Mid-day talker: Where does Matt Cassel rank among Cassel-esque Vikings QBs?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated March 4th at 3:36pm 295047511

bridgewaterThe Vikings traded Matt Cassel to the Bills today in a move that strikes us a little odd since Cassel is a very functional backup but that also signals that the Vikings have supreme faith in Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback.

Our question of the afternoon is this: Where does Cassel rank among Vikings quarterbacks of a similar ilk over the past few decades? Minnesota has clearly had some very good QBs (even for very short periods of time); we’d consider Warren Moon, Randall Cunningham, Brett Favre and Daunte Culpepper to be in that category, ahead of Cassel. Bridgewater is in a separate category since he’s still very new.

But among these QBs, where does Cassel rank: Brad Johnson, Gus Frerotte, Tarvaris Jackson, Sean Salisbury, Christian Ponder, Jim McMahon, Donovan McNabb and Cassel.

These are the guys who were constantly teetering between being starters and backups — functional in some ways, limited in others.

Our temptation is to put Johnson first because he stood the test of time longer than the rest. McNabb is at the bottom, with Ponder and Jackson right above him. The real competition is between Salisbury, McMahon, Frerotte and Cassel.

Something makes us want to put Cassel above the rest of those guys, but the numbers don’t really bear that out. So we’ll leave it open to interpretation in the comments.

Wednesday (McCoy deal shows Peterson's limited trade value) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated March 4th at 10:01am 295003801

zimmerpetersonVikings coach Mike Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman will reportedly meet with Adrian Peterson in Texas today, apparently because Peterson — who missed all but one game last season after whipping his son with a switch — has some hurt feelings.

It’s twisted, but sports are twisted. The upshot is the Vikings can now talk to Peterson — and next week, when the league season changes over and free agency begins, they could trade him.

The prospect of trading Peterson — combined with Dallas’ potential interest in him — has Vikings fans dreaming of a reverse Herschel Walker deal, whereby Minnesota would get a massive haul in return.

That dream should have been immediately realized as folly because the market for and importance of running backs is vastly different than it was a generation ago, but if it wasn’t, some other news Wednesday should snuff it out completely.

The Eagles have traded LeSean McCoy to the Bills for a young linebacker coming off of a torn ACL, Kiko Alonso.

That’s it. No more. A clean 1-for-1 swap.

So now we know the trade value for an elite NFL running back (McCoy has nearly 3,000 yards rushing combined in the past two seasons) who is a better pass-catcher than Peterson (three years of at least 50 catches, including one year with 78), is three years younger than Peterson (McCoy turns 27 in July), is due to make less money and count less against the salary cap than Peterson and whose most significant proven off-field transgression is that he is a bad tipper.

That value is one young linebacker — a former second-round pick who had a very good rookie season, but one who is coming off a very serious injury and isn’t doing full-speed drills yet.

We have to imagine Peterson’s trade value is significantly less than that. The Vikings and Peterson might end up parting ways regardless, but now even more so than a day ago we should know not to expect much in return.

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Detroit 2
Philadelphia 1 Bottom 7th Inning
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Michigan 49
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