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: Wild fan talks on Twitter about rescheduling wedding around Game 1

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated April 27th at 7:05pm 301475651

The Wild/Blackhawks series schedule, as of 4:45 p.m Monday stillllllllll isn’t ouuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuutttttt.

This is an irritant for some of us, either personally or professionally (especially Russo, who not only has to make travel plans and crank out stories but also has to field 800 questions every minute about the schedule).

But for one guy on Twitter, it appears to have bigger implications:

I asked him if he was serious, but I haven’t heard back. What I do know is this:

He’d never forget Friday, May 1, 2015, when the Wild went into Chicago and took Game 1 against the Blackhawks. Best day of his life.

Idea: The Vikings should retire Brett Favre's number this year before the Packers do

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated April 27th at 7:04pm 301460411

favre

This is not my idea. Others had it before me, and specifically I’m stealing it from FSN’s Tyler Mason, who tweeted:

I’m officially obsessed with this idea — not because it would ever happen and not even because the Vikings would or should consider retiring Favre’s jersey.

It’s just that I relished the awkward relationship between many Packers fans and Favre that developed during his bitter divorce from the team and launched into a new stratosphere when he joined the Vikings after a year with the Jets.

Ultimately, the correct and polite thing is for the sides to mend fences. Favre is an all-time Packers great, a fan favorite for so many years, and enough time has passed for both to forgive and forget.

Unless … the Vikings creep in right before the Packers retire his jersey this year and — as Tyler suggests — retire his No. 4 in a ceremony in a game just four days earlier, when Green Bay is in town.

Brett doesn’t even need to be there or acknowledge it, but you know he couldn’t stay away. They could have it in a parking lot for all I care. If you want to rekindle this bad blood and never let it die, here is your vehicle.

Monday (Resurgence of Joe Mauer) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated April 27th at 1:28pm 301441671

mauer

Here are some things we presume to know about Joe Mauer:

1) His 28 homer season of 2009 was the outlier. He will never approach that figure again, and there’s a good chance he won’t be an MVP-level hitter again. He recently turned 32 and he has a concussion history. He’s on the downside of his prime.

2) Last year, when taken as a whole, was a bad Mauer season — and compared other first baseman, it was just a bad year at the plate, period. That the Twins finished 7th in MLB in runs scored with their best hitter having a down season was truly remarkable.

3) But yes, Mauer still qualifies as the team’s best hitter. He’s obviously their most expensive player, too, but nothing is going to change that. His $23 million contract, though 2018, is what it is.

4) Even Mauer coming down the backside of his career, though, could be a pretty good hitter. We got a look at it in his final 44 games a season ago, when after coming off the DL for an oblique injury he hit .289 with a .397 OBP and an .805 OPS.

That’s more or less the Mauer we’ve seen so far this season: .392 OBP and a .299 average, both boosted by a three-hit game Sunday in which he delivered two runs-scoring extra-base hits, including a game-winning triple in the 11th.

If that’s the Mauer we see over the course of this season — and for at least most of the duration of the rest of his contract — I’m willing to bet the Twins will be happy with that. Fans will still harp on the lack of homers (zero this year), but if he can get back to 45-50 extra base hits every year, get on base and knock in runs, he is not an MVP but he is a very valuable hitter.

As hitters like Kennys Vargas, Danny Santana, Oswaldo Arcia and Brian Dozier — guys who fueled an offensive surge last year — struggle early, it’s Mauer who has carried a good part of the load. If those guys turn things around and Mauer is still rolling at a good clip, the offense could be downright dangerous.

Wild postgame: Devan Dubnyk makes a believer out of all of us

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated April 27th at 9:08am 301368881

Three days ago, I wrote about some slippage in goalie Devan Dubnyk’s play — a small decrease in both save percentage and overall sharpness that preceded even the Game 4 meltdown but was certainly prominent in that game.

I suggested the Wild would need MVP-level Dubnyk to return if it was going to prevail in the series. Whether that was ultimately true or not, the need to revisit his play is only fair because this much is not in dispute: Dubnyk was dynamite in Games 5 and 6, certainly returning to maximum sharpness at a time Minnesota needed him most.

The Wild outscored the Blues 8-2 in the two final games, so it is arguable whether even a merely good Dubnyk would have been enough. It was a full team effort (just as the Game 4 loss was). But It feels to me like he was their most important player, at least, particularly in Game 5. And the difference between Dubnyk and Blues goalie Jake Allen was striking. 

There is no doubt of this now: Dubnyk is a goalie the Wild can count on going forward. That doesn’t guarantee a Stanley Cup or even another series win this year, but if the last remaining questions were about his playoff moxie and ability to rebound mentally, Dubnyk has aced those tests.

It’s one of those rare midseason trades that just fits perfectly for both the player and the team, and the story continues.

Nuclear Wessel: Down the stretch they come in the Premier League

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated April 24th at 5:07pm 301258831

nuclearDana Wessel works at Go963 FM in Minneapolis and formerly worked at Enterprise Rent-A-Car under their excellent corporate structure where *they* gave *him* the tools to be his own boss.

Bad news, Nuclear Warheads. The Premier League season is almost over.

Then, all we have to look forward to is the FA Cup Final, Champions League Final, Women’s World Cup, CONCACAF Gold Cup, MLS season, Minnesota United season, Men’s World Cup Qualifiers, international friendlies on US territories and the start of the Premier League in August.

SOCCER NEVER ENDS BAHAHH!!!!!!!!!!!!

Speaking of the United, their home lid-lifter in Blaine is this Saturday night. Get out and enjoy some professional soccer.

On to the matches!!!

No. 1: Manchester City vs Aston Villa at Etihad Stadium

When: Saturday at 11:30AM on Big Boy NBC

Last year: City beat Villa at the Etihad 4-0 last season. It wasn’t as big as a runaway as it looks on paper though. All four goals came after the 64th minute and the final two came after the 89th minute.

The Spurs/Southampton ‘battle for 6th place and foolish hope we can still catch City for 4th’ derby will probably be a more intriguing match than this, but I can’t in good faith recommend anybody wake up at 6:45AM to watch it. These two teams had a chance to make this the most exciting top four race ever but they decided to be average instead. THANKS!

This City fall from grace really has been something to watch. Just further proof that you can spend a ton of cash on a ton of high-priced talent and still fail as a team. We see it all the time in baseball stateside. You have to build a team, not just buy the shiniest, most expensive toys.

If it hadn’t been for the combined ineptitude of Liverpool, Spurs and Southampton, they would be clinging to their Champions Leagues lives right now. How crazy would that be?

But they sit comfortably in fourth, seven points clear of Liverpool (having played one more game than the Reds), and even given their dreadful form, you can’t picture them falling any further.

They face a Villa team Saturday having an odd season. They are once again flirting with relegation but have somehow found themselves in the FA Cup final against Arsenal. Villa have to be confident coming off of that win over Liverpool at Wembley last weekend and know only a few more points in their final five matches will officially secure them another season in top-flight English football.

Villa will put up a fight but I see City taking care of business at home much like they did last week against West Ham.

No. 2: Everton vs Manchester United at Goodison Park

When: Sunday at 7:30AM on NBC Sports Network

Last year: Everton beat United and former manager David Moyes last season 2-0 almost a year ago to the day. Moyes was dismissed shortly thereafter as United stumbled to a seventh place finish.

Seems like as good a time as any to remind everyone I picked Everton to finish in the top four this season. If the FA decides to make this match worth 25 points AND if Everton win, that could still happen. YA JUST NEVA KNOW.

United’s faint title hopes came to an end last weekend at the hands of Eden Hazard but that shouldn’t be a blemish on what has been a great year for them. Any United fan in the world would have gladly handed you the deed to their house if you told them in August they’d finish in the top four and above Manchester City.

It has been a bad year for Everton. There is no way around it. They have even won four of their last five matches and still sit in 12th place. Yuck.

Should be an entertaining match at Goodison Park, where United have won just one match in their last five. Roberto Martinez said he expects James McCarthy is fit to play. That helps the Toffees and ensures supporters they get to see him play a few more times before he is inevitably sold this summer.

No. 3 Arsenal vs Chelsea at Emirates Stadium

When: Sunday at 10:00AM on NBC Sports Network

Last year: These two last met at Emirates two days before Christmas last season and played to a 0-0 draw.

Well, this should be a doozy, huh?

The Premier League title race is either (essentially) over with a Chelsea win/tie or will get a lot more interesting if Arsenal can grab all three points.

Here are the scenarios:

  • If Chelsea win, they will go 13 points clear. Arsenal can then get a max of 81 points, therefore Chelsea will need two more points in their final five matches to clinch the title and can do so Wednesday, April 29th at Leicester City at the earliest.

  • If Chelsea/Arsenal draw, Chelsea will stay 10 points clear. Arsenal can then get a max of 82 points, therefore Chelsea will need five points in their final five matches to clinch the title and can do so Sunday, May 3rd against Crystal Palace at the earliest.

  • If Arsenal win, Chelsea will remain seven points clear. Arsenal can get a max of 84 points, therefore Chelsea will need nine points in their final five matches to clinch the title and can do so Sunday, May 10th at the earliest.

Get all that? All of those scenarios are under the assumption that Arsenal will win out. If they drop any points after the Sunday’s match, it makes it even more difficult. Also, I did that math myself (seriously) so if it is wrong, don’t correct me, just take comfort in knowing you are smarter than me.

But all that is in the future! The only thing that these teams control is what happens on Sunday. I think it is obvious at this point that Jose Mourinho won’t really be looking to attack much. Plus, in this title race, a draw is just as good as a win for Chelsea. It may annoy casual fans or folks who support other sides. But Chelsea aren’t here to impress random Spurs or Liverpool fans, they are here to win a trophy.

Diego Cost is a question mark but Jose Mourinho said it is possible he plays ahead of schedule from that hamstring injury. If not, Jose said Friday that Drogba is ready to go. We all know his track record against Arsenal.

Arsenal will be going all out for the win. They have to. It is their only option. Look for Chelsea to defend and pick their chances carefully.

Should be a fun one. I just want to take a long nap until it is Sunday morning.

Enjoy the matches, soccer fans. Until next time, keep your socks taped and your cleats up.

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Kansas City - WP: J. Vargas 6 FINAL
Cleveland - LP: C. Kluber 2
Toronto - LP: M. Castro 5 FINAL
Boston - WP: K. Uehara 6
Chicago WSox 0 Postponed
Baltimore 0
Tampa Bay - LP: B. Gomes 1 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: J. Wilson 4
Washington - LP: D. Fister 4 FINAL
Atlanta - WP: E. Stults 8
NY Mets - WP: C. Torres 3 FINAL
Miami - LP: S. Cishek 1
Milwaukee - LP: J. Nelson 6 FINAL
Cincinnati - WP: J. Marquis 9
Pittsburgh - LP: V. Worley 0 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: J. Hammel 4
Seattle - WP: T. Walker 3 FINAL
Texas - LP: Y. Gallardo 1
Detroit - WP: D. Price 5 FINAL
Minnesota - LP: T. Milone 4
Philadelphia - WP: C. Hamels 4 FINAL
St. Louis - LP: J. Lackey 1
Colorado - WP: T. Matzek 5 FINAL
Arizona - LP: C. Anderson 4
Houston - WP: P. Neshek 9 FINAL
San Diego - LP: J. Benoit 4
San Francisco - LP: T. Lincecum 3 FINAL
Los Angeles - WP: C. Frias 8
Atlanta 115 FINAL
Brooklyn 120
Milwaukee 94 FINAL
Chicago 88
Memphis 92 FINAL
Portland 99
Tampa Bay 5 FINAL
Detroit 2
NY Islanders 1 FINAL
Washington 2

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