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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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.
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?
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 …
Steve 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.
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.
The 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.
|Tennessee||12/18/14 7:25 PM|
|Philadelphia||12/20/14 3:30 PM|
|San Diego||12/20/14 7:25 PM|
|Minnesota||12/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Baltimore||12/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Detroit||12/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Cleveland||12/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Atlanta||12/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Green Bay||12/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Kansas City||12/21/14 12:00 PM|
|New England||12/21/14 12:00 PM|
|NY Giants||12/21/14 3:05 PM|
|Buffalo||12/21/14 3:25 PM|
|Indianapolis||12/21/14 3:25 PM|
|Seattle||12/21/14 7:30 PM|
|Denver||12/22/14 7:30 PM|
|Memphis||83||4th Qtr 2:44|
|Milwaukee||31||2nd Qtr 7:44|
|Houston||6||1st Qtr 9:05|
|Indiana||7||1st Qtr 9:44|
|Dallas||0||1st Prd 2:23|
|Stephen F Austin||66|
|Winthrop||44||2nd Half 11:08|
|New Mexico St||42||2nd Half 5:23|
|San Diego St||43||2nd Half 7:28|
|Eastern Mich||37||2nd Half 8:00|
|Loyola Marymount||50||2nd Half 3:27|
|Incarnate Word||67||2nd Half 5:40|
|Central Arkansas||28||1st Half 2:51|
|Howard||19||1st Half 3:56|
|Portland||9||1st Half 15:45|
|Grambling St||10:00 PM|
|Nevada||12/20/14 10:00 AM|
|Utah State||12/20/14 1:20 PM|
|(23) Utah||12/20/14 2:30 PM|
|Western Mich||12/20/14 4:45 PM|
|South Alabama||12/20/14 8:15 PM|
|BYU||12/22/14 1:00 PM|
|Marshall||12/23/14 5:00 PM|
|Navy||12/23/14 8:30 PM|
|San Diego St|
|Central Mich||12/24/14 11:00 AM|
|Fresno State||12/24/14 7:00 PM|
|(21) Miss State||66||FINAL|
|(1) South Carolina||69||FINAL|
|Fla Gulf Coast||91||FINAL|
|Sam Houston St||51|
|North Texas||5||1st Half 3:39|