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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Wolves fans have forgotten about Kevin Love already

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated August 26th at 3:22pm 272766971

kevinloveBefore we headed out to the State Fair for the introduction of Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and Thaddeus Young (as well as the re-introduction of first-round pick Zach LaVine), we posed a question on Twitter:

Minnesota sports fans: Will you root for Kevin Love in Cleveland, against him, or be indifferent?

Your responses were pretty interesting, to say the least, and very diverse.

That said, there was also a fan out at the Fair who seems to have moved on more quickly than others. Hat tip to Wolves Chief Marketing Officer Ted Johnson for that photo you see.

Tuesday (Twins No. 6 in MLB in runs scored) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated August 26th at 9:55am 272716451

santanaThe Twins’ offensive surge in August has placed them into elite territory. They are now No. 6 in the majors — not the AL, not among bad teams, but out of all 30 teams — in runs scored with 570. They are scoring nearly 4.4 per game, which in many cases should be enough to be a pretty decent team. They’ve scored them in binges and droughts, but it adds up to an impressive number.

We’re as stunned as you are. They’re also No. 7 in MLB in on-base percentage and tied for seventh in MLB in extra-base hits.

These numbers suggest an offensive improvement that, while perhaps not sustainable (are Danny Santana and Kennys Vargas really going to keep up their torrid paces?), does at least provide promise for the future.

But just as much, they add a layer of frustration to a season in which pitching was supposed to be much-improved and the offense was going to be the major question mark. Remember, the big offseason bats added from outside the organization were Kurt Suzuki, Jason Kubel and Jason Bartlett. Suzuki has worked out wonderfully. The other two failed spectacularly. And the bulk of offseason spending went into the rotation, with Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes plus the re-signing of Mike Pelfrey.

Hughes has been wonderful. Nolasco and Pelfrey have been dreadful. Add it up, and Twins’ starters have a 5.05 ERA — 28th in the majors, in line with where they have lagged ever since their great decline started in 2011. Their bullpen ERA of 3.47 is 15th in MLB — perfectly acceptable in the middle of the road.

So if you’re looking for a major pleasant surprise this season, look at an offense we expected to be terrible that is somehow near the top of baseball in the most important category. And if you’re looking for the culprit in another lost season, look no further (again) than starting pitching.

TFD: Allison Stokke, other Olympic hopefuls, pole vaulting on Brit's Pub rooftop Saturday

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated August 26th at 6:41am 272621601

We’re not sure exactly how this is going to work — we expect to sort that all out as the week goes on — but we do know this: There is going to be pole vaulting on the rooftop of Brit’s Pub in downtown Minneapolis on Saturday.

There are many divisions throughout the day, leading up to a professional competition at night with several Olympic hopefuls competing — including Allison Stokke, who caused somewhat of an Internet stir seven years back.

It’s free. It’s pole vaulting on a roof. There will be beer. You could do worse on a Saturday night.

The Packers are one of the five least-desirable franchises to play for, NFL players say

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated August 26th at 6:46am 272612251

An alarming proportion of NFL players don’t want to play for the Packers, according to an anonymous survey via ESPN.com:

The Raiders are the least desirable team to play for in the NFL, according to an NFL Nation Confidential survey posed to 100-plus players on the following question:

“The only way I’d play for [team name] is if they doubled my salary.”

Of the 82 players who answered, 23 percent named the Raiders, followed by the Buffalo Bills (19 percent), Cleveland Browns (16 percent), Jacksonville Jaguars (9 percent) and Green Bay Packers (6 percent).

So you have the messed up Raiders, then three teams who have never won a Super Bowl and also play in unattractive markets … and then Titletown USA. What is this madness? What player wouldn’t want to live and play in Green Bay, where he could gaze at those Super Bowl trophies Packers fans love to talk about?

Our guess is it has something to do with the weather and the social scene in Green Bay, though maybe some players just don’t want to be part of Team Ted.

In any event, we are keenly aware this is a VERY small sample size and that six percent amounts to five players out of the 82 players who responded, which in itself is a small portion of all league players.

But if you think we are going to pass up a post the power of small sample sizes and thin-skinned fans, you are mistaken. After all, you don’t see the Vikings on that list, small sample size or not.

Mid-day talker: Cassel over Bridgewater is both boring and smart

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated August 25th at 1:15pm 272595691

CASSELCASTLE

Based on three preseason games, the Vikings weren’t going to embarrass themselves regardless of which quarterback they chose as their starter going into the season. Both Matt Cassel and Teddy Bridgewater have played pretty well in the tune-ups, meaning the decision for new coach Mike Zimmer could ultimately come down to which was the smarter play.

Zimmer doesn’t seem like a boring guy, but he does seem like someone who calculates the percentages and makes corresponding decisions. That can lead to some moves that are both boring and smart — and naming Cassel as the starter over Bridgewater fits into that category.

It’s boring because we know what Cassel can do. He’s a veteran who offers stability and the chance to give the team average QB play — something the Vikings haven’t had with consistency for several years. Bridgewater is the exciting rookie full of potential. Since this team is rebuilding, why not roll the dice right away?

Well, because the decision to start Cassel is smart for the same reason it is boring. You start with the known commodity against a tough early slate of games — three of five on the road, against teams with aggressive defenses, top QBs or both — because you know what you’re getting. You also do it because if he succeeds, he can keep the job while Bridgewater keeps learning. And if he fails, the switch to Bridgewater is seamless (the fifth game, against the Packers, is on a Thursday and therefore offers a long stretch afterward to prepare should the Vikings want to make a move then).

If you start with Bridgewater, you could catch lightning in a bottle. But if he fails early, it’s much harder to go from the rookie to the veteran than vice-versa. It’s common sense. A rookie coach doesn’t want to start 0-5 or 1-4 with a rookie quarterback. Then nobody looks good. If the coach starts that way with a veteran, there is still hope on the way. Zimmer’s comments seem to indicate he’s even thinking along these lines. Per Access Vikings, here are a pair of quotes from Zimmer:

“It wasn’t just about the quarterbacks. It’s not always the best player at that position — and I’m not saying that Matt’s not. … It’s all about how everything works together. And at this stage, where we’re at right now, it’s the best thing to do.”

“We will hold the quarterback position to the exact same expectations as we do every other position. If you perform, you play. If you don’t, then somebody else will get an opportunity at some point.”

It sure sounds like Cassel is the starter for now, and our guess is that he has a five-game audition. It might make the early part of the season a little less interesting than if Bridgewater had the keys from the start, but sometimes boring and smart go hand in hand.

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Washington - LP: T. Clippard 3 FINAL
Philadelphia - WP: K. Giles 4
St. Louis - LP: S. Maness 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: T. Watson 5
Tampa Bay - LP: G. Balfour 2 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: B. Brach 4
Boston - WP: J. Tazawa 11 FINAL
Toronto - LP: C. Janssen 7
NY Yankees - LP: B. McCarthy 2 FINAL
Detroit - WP: R. Porcello 5
Atlanta - LP: A. Wood 2 FINAL
NY Mets - WP: D. Gee 3
Chicago Cubs - WP: T. Wood 3 FINAL
Cincinnati - LP: J. Cueto 0
Cleveland - WP: B. Shaw 8 FINAL
Chicago WSox - LP: J. Petricka 6
Minnesota - LP: G. Perkins 1 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: W. Davis 2
Oakland - LP: L. Gregerson 2 FINAL
Houston - WP: J. Fields 4
Los Angeles - WP: R. Hernandez 9 FINAL
Arizona - LP: T. Cahill 5
Miami - LP: N. Eovaldi 2 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: M. Shoemaker 8
Milwaukee - LP: J. Nelson 1 FINAL
San Diego - WP: T. Ross 4
Texas - LP: N. Martinez 0 FINAL
Seattle - WP: J. Paxton 5
Colorado - LP: J. De La Rosa 0 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: M. Bumgarner 3
Atlanta 8/28/14 5:00 PM
Jacksonville
Detroit 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Buffalo
Indianapolis 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Kansas City 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Green Bay
NY Jets 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
St. Louis 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Miami
Carolina 8/28/14 6:30 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 8/28/14 6:30 PM
NY Giants
Washington 8/28/14 6:30 PM
Tampa Bay
Baltimore 8/28/14 7:00 PM
New Orleans
Chicago 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Cleveland
Denver 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Dallas
Minnesota 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Tennessee
San Francisco 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Houston
Arizona 8/28/14 9:00 PM
San Diego
Seattle 8/28/14 9:00 PM
Oakland
(21) Texas A&M 8/28/14 5:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Wake Forest 8/28/14 6:02 PM
ULM
Boise State 8/28/14 7:00 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Tulane 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Temple 8/28/14 8:15 PM
Vanderbilt
Rutgers 8/28/14 9:00 PM
Washington St
Weber State 8/28/14 9:30 PM
(19) Arizona State
BYU 8/29/14 6:00 PM
Connecticut
(6) Jacksonville St 8/29/14 6:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Bowling Green 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Western Ky
TX-San Antonio 8/29/14 8:00 PM
Houston
Colorado State 8/29/14 8:00 PM
Colorado
UNLV 8/29/14 9:30 PM
Arizona
Penn State 8/30/14 7:30 AM
UCF
Troy 8/30/14 11:00 AM
UAB
(7) UCLA 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Virginia
Western Mich 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
(5) Ohio State 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Navy
Appalachian St 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Michigan
Ga Southern 8/30/14 11:30 AM
NC State
Boston College 8/30/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
West Virginia 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(2) Alabama
Rice 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
(10) South Dakota St 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(24) Missouri
Fla Atlantic 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(22) Nebraska
California 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Marshall 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
UC Davis 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(11) Stanford
Arkansas 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(6) Auburn
(16) Clemson 8/30/14 4:30 PM
(12) Georgia
Liberty 8/30/14 5:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Ohio U 8/30/14 5:00 PM
Kent State
Louisiana Tech 8/30/14 6:00 PM
(4) Oklahoma
Idaho 8/30/14 6:00 PM
Florida
Stephen F Austin 8/30/14 6:10 PM
(20) Kansas State
Fresno State 8/30/14 6:30 PM
(15) USC
Southern Miss 8/30/14 6:30 PM
Miss State
Texas-El Paso 8/30/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
North Texas 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Texas
(1) Florida State 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State
(14) Wisconsin 8/30/14 8:00 PM
(13) LSU
South Dakota 8/30/14 9:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(25) Washington 8/30/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
Tennessee
SMU 8/31/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Louisville
Ottawa 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Montreal
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Calgary
Chicago 81 FINAL
Atlanta 80

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