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: Twins' Colabello played through pain after torrid start

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated October 23rd at 5:22pm 280243422

colabelloChris Colabello set a Twins record for RBI in April, breaking Kirby Puckett’s mark. It was a startling beginning to a season from the journeyman first baseman/outfielder, and many figured he would cool off quickly.

He did, eventually landing in the minors. But was there more to it than just the league catching up to him? In a story published at telegram.com, out of Worcester, Mass., this came to light:

Something that happened on April 23 contributed to Colabello’s drop off in production. Tampa Bay reliever Grant Balfour jammed him with a fastball, numbing Colabello’s right thumb. The thumb hasn’t felt right since. The Twins physician told him he had suffered nerve damage and only rest would help, but after taking nearly a decade to reach the major leagues, Colabello tried to play through the pain and numbness. He glued cotton to his batting gloves and tried a thumb protector, but his slump continued. … Colabello didn’t tell the media in Minnesota about his thumb injury.  “I don’t like to make excuses,” he said. “I chose to play and I’ll deal with the consequences.”

Nobody will ever know how much of it was the injury and how much of it was just Colabello cooling off, but it is notable that through April 23 he was batting .346 with 26 RBI and a .962 OPS. For the rest of the year with the Twins, he hit just .157 with a .479 OPS.

Kevin Love: 'I’d like to take a moment to thank the fans of Minnesota for six great years'

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated October 23rd at 12:48pm 280206522

Former Wolves forward Kevin Love became the latest athlete to pen a piece for Derek Jeter’s new “Players’ Tribune,” a new venture that an optimist would call a chance for athletes to speak directly to fans and a pessimist would call a chance for athletes to craft specifically tailored messages without being asked any difficult questions.

Regardless of how you feel about The Players Tribune, there are some items of interest from Love’s piece, which details his emotions over the summer, reveals some thoughts about Minnesota and then delves into his time, so far, with the Cavaliers.

He also apparently watched more Netflix than should be humanly possible. But here’s the good stuff:

Things were especially tough because for a month before the trade was finalized, Wiggins and I were caught in NBA purgatory. Is this happening, is this not happening? With everything up in the air, I felt like I couldn’t say a proper goodbye to Minnesota. And once the trade finally went through, everything happened quickly. So I’d like to take a moment to thank the fans of Minnesota for six great years. I still remember sitting in Madison Square Garden when I was first drafted in 2008, thinking that if I could go anywhere it would be to the Timberwolves to work with one of my childhood idols, Kevin McHale. There are so many people in Minnesota who helped to shape my game and mold me into the player I am today. I’ll always be fond of going to Manny’s Steakhouse, and the support I got from the entire Minnesota community — even in tough times — is something I’ll remember forever. (Seriously, thanks for not burning my jersey, you guys.)

Seems like a pretty legit thanks/goodbye. Well done. Now we get into a mix of contrition and thin skin, two things that don’t mix well:

I’ll be the first to tell you that I didn’t always handle things perfectly. We are all unfinished products. It’s not easy to handle the disappointment of losing when you’re in your early twenties. There were times when I wasn’t easy to be around in the locker room. It’s hard to be a leader when you don’t have the model — and when you don’t have a blueprint for what winning in the NBA looks like. But I make no excuses. I posted my best personal numbers last season, and we still didn’t make the playoffs. Some of the backlash was pretty hard to take — I learned that there is apparently such a thing as an “empty stat” (I’ll try to remember the importance of that the next time I am boxing out for a rebound against Tim Duncan).

Translation: Sometimes he was a bad teammate, but it’s only because he wanted to win and because nobody showed him how to be a leader. And even though he was doing everything he could to win, it still happen. And even though he put up his best personal numbers of his career, he’s not a stat-chaser and takes offense to the notion of an empty stat. He makes no excuses, except where he makes excuses. But still: his acknowledgement that he made mistakes is meaningful.

Everything on the plane to Rio was natural, and I felt like I could be a part of something special. It was a culture that I’m not accustomed to. After I was traded this summer, I kept hearing about how our challenge was going to be figuring out how to share the ball among LeBron, Kyrie and myself. Reporters kept asking me how I felt about it. … To them I say: I don’t care. I’ve never played in a playoff game. I came to Cleveland because I want to win. I’ll grab a broom and sweep the floors if it gets me an NBA title.

Another shot at the Wolves’ culture, though we’re not sure he can be blamed for that. And an affirmation at the end that he doesn’t care about stats, just winning. We’ll see how that goes as the season progresses. He’s already talking about how he’s not getting touches in the post, and it’s still just the preseason. We’ll see.

Thursday (An extended Twins managerial search) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated October 23rd at 11:50am 280182272

gardyryanThe Twins fired Ron Gardenhire more than three weeks ago. At the time, GM Terry Ryan said there was no timetable for how long the process of finding a successor would take, but the best guess now is that it won’t happen until after the World Series — meaning it will be at least four weeks from Gardy’s firing date of Monday, Sept. 29.

How fast the Twins move ultimately won’t matter. But the most recent update offered by La Velle E. Neal on Wednesday makes us wonder: are the Twins taking their time and making sure they make a thorough decision at this point, or are they stalled?

We ask because all three of the top identified candidates (Paul Molitor, Doug Mientkiewicz and Torey Lovullo) have reportedly either interviewed multiple times or the Twins have permission to do so.

And yet Ryan is reportedly open to the idea of expanding the search to new candidates, and owner Jim Pohlad hasn’t yet been in on any of the interviews.

That first piece of information is a sign, at least to us, that either Ryan isn’t sold on any of the three front-runners or that his preferred candidate among the three — whomever it might be, though a lot of people would presume it to be Molitor — isn’t sold on the job from his end.

That second piece of information is a sign, at least to us, that the Twins really aren’t that close to making a decision. Pohlad presumably will be brought in only for the final interview with the candidate Ryan wants to hire.

Again, the timing won’t ultimately matter much. The process, though, is interesting and right now it’s reasonable to wonder if the wheels are turning — or if they’re just spinning.

TFD: Softer upcoming pass defenses mean its time for Vikings' Bridgewater to make his mark

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated October 22nd at 5:42pm 280114992

brigewaterAll it takes these days is two bad games by a rookie quarterback to make us question whether he is going to be the right guy to lead a team for the next decade.

We freely admit we have some concerns about Teddy Bridgewater at this point — most of them similar to what Patrick Reusse wrote recently, in that he doesn’t seem to do one thing, physically, great.

Instead, Bridgewater will be relying on intangibles, which largely means football intelligence mixed with poise and presence. After three NFL starts, he’s not there yet — nor should he be.

But we should also note this: those last two starts, which have been struggles, have also been against two of the best defensive lines the Vikings will face all season. Detroit and Buffalo get hellacious pressure, and the Vikings’ offensive line is a mess. Both the Lions and Bills rank among the NFL’s top five in sacks and interceptions.

What does that mean? Well, when it comes to appraising Bridgewater’s early work, it means we also need to give some credit to the opponent. He carved up an awful defense (Falcons) in his first start. And in his next three games, he’ll face:

*Tampa Bay, which has just nine sacks this season and is averaging 295 passing yards per game, worst in the NFL (hello, Leslie Frazier, my old friend).

*Washington, which has just three interceptions this season while allowing 15 TD passes (both stats put them among the 10 worst NFL pass defenses).

*Chicago, which does rank eighth in sacks (with 19) but is allowing 8 yards per pass attempt — 28th in the league.

Sure, the Vikings and Bridgewater will have to beat better defenses at some point to prove they are legitimate. But these next three games should be an opportunity for Bridgewater to gain some proficiency, yardage and confidence.

On the flip side, if he still struggles in this stretch … well, then some of the concern will gain legitimacy, even if it is still very early in his tenure.

Gophers seventh-most likely team to make college football playoff, says U of Wisconsin statistical model

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated October 23rd at 5:29am 280082212

gophersbadgersAn associate professor in the engineering department at the University of Wisconsin has created a statistical model that is VERY favorable to your Gophers football team (and not the Badgers, by the way).

Laura McLay’s “Badger Bracketology” is an attempt, she says, to forecast which four teams will make the inaugural college football playoff this season.

The methodology, at a glance:

I start with the outcomes of the games played so far, starting with at least 8 weeks of data. This is used to come up with a rating for each team that I then rank. The ranking methodology uses a connectivity matrix based on Google’s PageRank algorithm (similar to a Markov chain). So far, I’ve considered three variants of this model that take various bits of information account like who a team beats, who it loses to, and the additional value provided by home wins. I used data from the 2012 and 2013 seasons to tune the parameters needed for the models.

The ratings along with the impact of home field advantage are then used to determine a win probability for each game. … My method is simple, but it gives us everything we need without being so complex that I would be suspicious of overfitting.

McLay actually uses three models, with 10,000 replications for each one. The most useful tool is the “ensemble,” which takes the average of the three models.

This is the first week for which the model has churned out projections for the playoff. It starts off about as expected, with Florida State as the most likely, followed by Mississippi, Mississippi State and then Alabama. Next you find Georgia, then Notre Dame and then …

Minnesota.

Yes, the Gophers are No. 7 in the model right now. That is to say, they are the seventh-most likely team to reach a four-team college football playoff for a national championship. Seventh. Yes, that’s right out of the money. But it’s so close to the money. They’re ahead of Michigan State (No. 8), while Wisconsin is nowhere to be found in the top 25.

Much of the season is yet to be played. So much can happen. But just know that, as of now, a simulation from the University of Wisconsin says things are looking good for the Gophers.

H/T: Fasolamatt.

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San Diego 21 FINAL
Denver 35
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
Indiana 88 FINAL
Charlotte 79
Philadelphia 103 FINAL
Detroit 109
Dallas 85 FINAL
New Orleans 88
NY Islanders 3 FINAL
Boston 2
Pittsburgh 3 FINAL(OT)
Detroit 4
Vancouver 4 FINAL
St. Louis 1
Chicago 2 FINAL
Nashville 3
Arizona 0 FINAL
Minnesota 2
Carolina 0 FINAL
Calgary 5
Buffalo 0 FINAL
Los Angeles 2
Columbus 5 FINAL
San Jose 4
Connecticut 21 FINAL
(18) East Carolina 31
Miami-Florida 30 FINAL
Virginia Tech 6
So Florida 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
(2) Florida State 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Louisville
Troy 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Montreal 5:30 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 8:30 PM
Calgary
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
Hamilton 10/31/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Toronto 11/2/14 11:00 AM
Montreal

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