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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Joe Mauer and Giants P Madison Bumgarner have the same number of homers this season

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated September 24th at 6:07pm 276995911

This is the lowest of the low-hanging fruit. We know this.

It combines all the worst elements: small sample size, cheap shot, you name it.

But still, we have to point out: Joe Mauer, whose move to first base was supposed to boost his power this season, has four home runs in 500 plate appearances. That is the exact same number as Giants P Madison Bumgarner, who has 78 plate appearances and whose main job is, of course, pitching.

Bumgarner hit his fourth dinger Tuesday night. Mauer was out of the lineup Wednesday after being hit by a pitch yesterday.

It’s entirely possible Bumgarner will start the regular-season finale Sunday. It’s not known when Mauer will return to the lineup. Will they finish in a tie? Will one of them make a bold move to finish the year? Stay tuned.

Phil Hughes story lines: Contract incentive and K/BB ratio record

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated September 24th at 5:17pm 276975321

Target Field is in a rain delay in the bottom of the eighth with the Twins leading Arizona 2-1. It’s the smallest crowd we’ve ever seen at a Twins game, with possibly 8,000 actual fans in the stands.

There are, however, somehow two compelling story lines emerging from a game between two 90-loss teams competing on a weekday afternoon. Both involve Phil Hughes (no offense to Trevor Plouffe, who reached 80 RBI today before fracturing his forearm).

The first: Hughes has sailed through 8 innings of work today, currently sitting at 96 pitches while the tarp sits on the field. His season total is 209 2/3 innings. This is his final start of a very good year … and he has a $500,000 contract bonus if he reaches 210 innings. In other words, he needs one more out to make $500K.

Would the Twins let him go out and pitch the ninth if he sits in the dugout for an hour while the rain passes?

If he doesn’t get out there again, would they give him a bullpen appearance sometime in Detroit so he can hit his mark?

If he comes one out short, would they pay him his money anyway?

Stay tuned.

The second: Hughes very well could set the MLB record for single-season strikeout to walk ratio. He has 0 BB and 5 Ks today, meaning his season totals sit at 16 walks and 186 strikeouts — a ratio of 11.6 Ks to BBs (it was 11.3 going into today, better than Bret Saberhagen’s record of 11.0 in 1994.

However, if we walks a batter in the ninth without striking anyone out, his ratio would dip just under 11.0. If he has a walk and a strikeout while finishing the game, he would tie Saberhagen exactly at 11 even (no decimal points in either case).

UPDATES: Hughes didn’t come out to pitch the 9th, so he gets the K/BB record but falls one out short of his innings incentive. He said on postgame radio he has no plans to pitch in the bullpen at Detroit. So it’s up to the Twins now …

Wednesday (Against Football) Edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated September 24th at 3:08pm 276931681

stevealmondSteve Almond isn’t advocating a boycott of football. In fact, he still likes to toss the ball around and it’s clear he deeply misses watching a sport he compares to a work of art. But like a number of fans right now — how many, exactly, is an interesting question with no exact answer — he is conflicted about a sport that thrills him on one hand but troubles him on the other.

So he gave it up and wrote a book called “Against Football: One Fan’s Reluctant Manifesto.” We caught up with him last week for a Sunday Q&A, but we also went to hear him read from the book (photo from the event taken by us) and take questions afterwards Tuesday night at The Loft in Minneapolis.

The main thing that troubles Almond is the same thing that troubles more than one of our friends: reconciling the fact that, by the NFL’s own admission, three of every 10 players will develop some sort of long-term brain problems and are far more likely than the general population to get serious problems much earlier in life.

Even if you are a passive viewer — watching only on TV — you are complicit in the NFL machine, Almond argues, because so much of the league’s revenue is derived from those massive TV contracts.

He made larger points about football as a microcosm for America and  about the sport’s troubling nature in terms of gender roles, race and sexual orientation. But mostly he sparked a good discussion with an audience of 40-50 people, a good mix of men and women, old and young. Plenty of them identified as football fans. Plenty of those fans appeared equally troubled by the things with which Almond struggles.

The overriding sentiment from Almond was not trying to convince people to give up football, but rather examine their motives for watching and take a closer look at the sport they love.

Some of you might have noticed that we’ve been in the process of doing the same thing. Keeping tabs on the Vikings is part of our job, so we still watch those games on Sundays. But we’ve cut out all other NFL viewing from what often used to be a 10-hour Sunday diet. We’ve unofficially called it the Sixteen Sundays Project, and the idea is to do something special each Sunday with the reclaimed time.

For Almond, the tipping point was brain injuries. For us, for some reason, it was a growing sense of distrust that came with the handling of the Ray Rice case. Maybe for us this sense will be fleeting. Maybe it will be permanent. But that’s where we are now.

Either way, we are not advocating you quit or cut down on your consumption. Free will is a beautiful thing, and so is football.

But if you are having trouble reconciling your fandom in light of recent events, you should also know you aren’t alone — and that some honest reflection, while a little frightening in that it will take you out of a comfort zone, can be a healthy thing.

TFD: Packers' Rodgers tells fans not to worry about dreadful start

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated September 23rd at 6:33pm 276845161

ILSThe Packers’ offense is sputtering, managing just one TD against the Lions in a 19-7 loss Sunday that dropped Green Bay to 1-2.

The defense isn’t much better, no matter how many night school classes Dom Capers attends.

And now we get the dreaded “don’t worry, it will all be fine” from quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who is running for his life behind a patchwork offensive line. Per Rodgers’ radio show today:

“Five letters here just for everybody out there in Packer-land: R-E-L-A-X,” Rodgers said Tuesday on his ESPN Milwaukee radio show. “Relax. We’re going to be OK.”

Here’s the full audio, if you are interested in this new Increasingly Lost Season.

Gophers one-liners: Streveler on his 'completion'; Botticelli on Maryland and Rutgers

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated September 23rd at 6:09pm 276740271

strevelerThe Gophers were a quotable bunch at Tuesday’s media gathering, and we’d like to think Sid got everyone off on the right foot. He started by yelling at us about Christian Ponder, and he carried it over when head coach Jerry Kill came to the podium.

The good times spilled over to the portion of the access period in which we get to talk to players. Defensive lineman Cameron Botticelli and QB Chris Streveler (pictured) had notable zingers. Let’s get to it:

*Much of the focus between Saturday and now has been on a Gophers passing attack that led to just one completion in the victory over San Jose State. Part of that was because of how well Minnesota was running the ball. Offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover, while noting that such imbalance probably won’t cut it in the Big Ten, praised Streveler for the decisions he made in the read-option game. In fact, he said it was as well as he has seen a QB run the read-option under his tutelage. Still, a QB is often judged by the passing game, and Streveler admitted he’s heard some chirping on campus this week over his 1-for-7 throwing day.

Said Streveler: “Yeah, some of my buddies class have been like ‘Hey, nice completion’ or whatever. It’s just funny. I like to joke around about it, and we got the win so it doesn’t really matter to be honest. I’ve gotten a little ribbing from that, but it’s all right.”

*Botticelli was being asked about playing at Michigan in front of a huge crowd at The Big House. He started rattling off the short list of Big Ten stadiums in which he’s never played. At the end, a reporter reminded him that Rutgers and Maryland are also on that list.

We’re counting them as Big Ten schools?” he quipped with a smile before making sure reporters knew he was kidding around.

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Tennessee 12/18/14 7:25 PM
Jacksonville
Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
Washington
San Diego 12/20/14 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
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St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
Atlanta 127 FINAL
Cleveland 98
Phoenix 111 FINAL
Charlotte 106
Dallas 117 FINAL
Detroit 106
Utah 105 FINAL
Miami 87
Orlando 92 FINAL
Boston 109
Brooklyn 89 FINAL
Toronto 105
Memphis 83 4th Qtr 2:44
San Antonio 85
Milwaukee 31 2nd Qtr 7:44
Portland 24
Houston 6 1st Qtr 9:05
Denver 2
Indiana 7 1st Qtr 9:44
LA Clippers 5
Ottawa 2 FINAL
New Jersey 0
Boston 3 FINAL(OT)
Minnesota 2
Dallas 0 1st Prd 2:23
Vancouver 0
Langston 65 FINAL
North Texas 78
Delaware State 72 FINAL
St Francis-NY 64
James Madison 72 FINAL
Ball State 52
SIU Edwardsville 65 FINAL
Campbell 70
St Francis-PA 67 FINAL
Duquesne 52
North Florida 77 FINAL
Florida State 93
Catawba 69 FINAL
George Mason 99
Ferrum 48 FINAL
High Point 106
Hampton 55 FINAL
Illinois 73
Gardner-Webb 65 FINAL
Jacksonville 68
Longwood 60 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 71
Arkansas State 69 FINAL
Miss State 55
Tennessee 72 FINAL
NC State 83
NC A&T 55 FINAL
Ohio State 97
Manhattan 56 FINAL
Pittsburgh 65
Robert Morris 57 FINAL
Toledo 83
Char Southern 58 FINAL
Wofford 64
Kennesaw St 90 FINAL
Youngstown St 84
Barber-Scotia 52 FINAL
NC Central 108
Detroit 70 FINAL
UCF 75
Liberty 70 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 73
TX A&M-CC 73 FINAL
Denver 83
Ark-Pine Bluff 61 FINAL
Houston 56
UT Martin 54 FINAL
Illinois State 64
Milligan 76 FINAL
Louisiana 115
Abilene Christian 44 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 83
USC Upstate 73 FINAL
Memphis 83
Alcorn State 56 FINAL
Murray State 94
Central Mich 80 FINAL
Northwestern 67
Georgia State 54 FINAL
Old Dominion 58
TX-Pan American 69 FINAL
Saint Louis 75
Ill-Chicago 46 FINAL
SMU 67
Texas State 60 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 66
SC State 39 FINAL
Texas Tech 101
Missouri State 70 FINAL
Tulsa 74
Chicago State 60 FINAL
Western Ky 75
Morehead State 50 FINAL
Green Bay 66
Northern Colorado 82 FINAL
Nebraska Omaha 92
Winthrop 44 2nd Half 11:08
Auburn 53
New Mexico St 42 2nd Half 5:23
Baylor 52
San Diego St 43 2nd Half 7:28
Cincinnati 38
Eastern Mich 37 2nd Half 8:00
Michigan State 55
Loyola Marymount 50 2nd Half 3:27
Stanford 58
Incarnate Word 67 2nd Half 5:40
Grand Canyon 72
Northeastern 31 2nd Half
Cal Poly 17
Central Arkansas 28 1st Half 2:51
New Mexico 32
Howard 19 1st Half 3:56
Pepperdine 21
Portland 9 1st Half 15:45
UNLV 3
CS-Northridge 10:00 PM
Oregon
Grambling St 10:00 PM
Washington
Nevada 12/20/14 10:00 AM
Louisiana
Utah State 12/20/14 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 12/20/14 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 12/20/14 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 12/20/14 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
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Memphis
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Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
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Rice
Western Carolina 79 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 66
(21) Miss State 66 FINAL
Louisiana 51
(25) DePaul 109 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 84
Liberty 64 FINAL
NC State 67
Elon 77 FINAL
Campbell 51
Akron 73 FINAL
UCF 64
Richmond 77 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 67
Montana 70 FINAL
Seattle 64
(7) Stanford 46 FINAL
Chattanooga 54
Florida A&M 69 FINAL
Southern U 80
Oklahoma 72 FINAL
(13) Duke 92
Savannah State 56 FINAL
Auburn 62
Northern Colorado 43 FINAL
South Florida 84
Youngstown St 73 FINAL
Robert Morris 65
Siena 75 FINAL
Sacred Heart 65
Vermont 63 FINAL
St Francis-NY 61
(1) South Carolina 69 FINAL
Hampton 49
Fla Gulf Coast 91 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 46
Texas Southern 92 FINAL
Houston Baptist 80
Northwestern 88 FINAL
UNLV 84
NC A&T 70 FINAL
Appalachian St 72
NC Central 52 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 67
Drexel 50 FINAL
Quinnipiac 74
Cincinnati 52 FINAL
Northern Ky 66
Alabama State 53 FINAL
Georgia Tech 77
Morehead St 69 FINAL
USC Upstate 75
Arkansas State 59 FINAL
Kent State 44
American Univ 60 FINAL
Manhattan 52
UNC Greensboro 60 FINAL
St Bonaventure 78
Arkansas-Monticello 56 FINAL
Northwestern St 61
Prairie View 70 FINAL
Sam Houston St 51
McNeese State 59 FINAL
(3) Texas 76
Yale 90 FINAL
Wagner 65
Oakland 61 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 54
Eastern Kentucky 62 FINAL
Alabama A&M 56
SIU-Edwardsville 47 FINAL
Northern Ill 69
McMurry 25 FINAL
TX-Arlington 82
Portland 65 FINAL
Eastern Washington 72
North Texas 5 1st Half 3:39
San Francisco 23

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