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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'Hughes the Force' bobblehead at center of Twins' 'Star Wars' promotion

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated March 26th at 2:26pm 297677981

philhughesTwins pitcher Phil Hughes walked just 16 batters in more than 200 innings last season. The natural question: Was he using Jedi mind tricks?

Probably not is the only logical answer, though the Twins are not dispelling the notion. They are using Hughes as a focal point of their Star Wars promotion for a May 4 game against Oakland (Yes, that means you can say “May the fourth be with you,” but if you say it too much you will get punched).

There is a “Hughes The Force” bobblehead giveaway (yes, another pun, but pretty clever), in which Hughes looks like a cross between a Jedi master and The Dude from Big Lebowski, which is actually pretty accurate.

The Twins do offer this disclaimer: While we encourage fans to come dressed in their favorite STAR WARS™ attire, please be advised that any props resembling firearms or weapons of any sort, fictional or not, will not be allowed into the ballpark. We kindly ask that you adhere to the policies in place at Target Field and respect the safety of all in attendance.

And the Twins put together a promo video, a remake of a Star Wars trailer.

Thursday (Belichick was right to rant about cameras) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated March 26th at 1:20pm 297658031

Patriots coach Bill  Belichick reportedly went a profanity-laced tirade during a recent a meeting with NFL officials, blasting them for not wanting to spend the money to put cameras on the goal lines during games to help determine touchdowns on close plays.

He is, of course, correct (and it’s rather humorous to think of a coach who often comes across as dry, wearing his hoodies with sleeves cut off, yelling swear words at a bunch of NFL suits).

The NFL’s apparent argument against the cameras is cost, which is ridiculous. Nothing is out of reach, cost-wise, in the NFL. Per ESPN.com:

The source said Belichick expressed concern that the league is willing to spend top dollar to send the Pro Bowl to Brazil and play regular-season games in London every season but doesn’t appear willing to spend the money to pay for the extra cameras it would take to cover all end zone angles to assist instant replay.

Belichick had a similar message when speaking to reporters, though he toned it down a bit.

It’s disappointing every year we can’t afford that, as a league,” Belichick told reporters Tuesday. “They brought that up as a concern. It was kind of surprising to hear that.”

Seriously. Spring for some cameras, NFL. Your commissioner makes more than $40 million a year. You can afford it.

The replay angles now are off-center, making it hard to truly tell if the ball has broken the plane. For something as important in a game as whether a play is a touchdown or not, investing in cameras shouldn’t be that difficult of a decision to make.

Vikings owner reportedly spent huge money on lavish Bar Mitzvah for son

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated March 25th at 5:40pm 297559451

Far be it from me to tell Vikings owner Mark Wilf how to spend his money. He has plenty of it, and he can do with it as he pleases.

Still, the details of his son Andrew’s Bar Mitzvah — the Jewish rite of passage that signals the beginning of manhood — are quite interesting, as reported by TMZ:

French Montana serenaded a bunch of 13-year-olds with a song celebrating cocaine. … Andrew the Bar Mitzvah boy made his entrance in a hamster ball with exploding confetti. And famed electric violinist Irene Fong did her thing in front of the crowd. We have no idea how much Wilf dropped on the shindig, but we know French’s going rate is $100k for private functions.

Hamster balls and six-figure entertainment? The only thing missing — at least as far as we know — was a camel. You only get that when you turn 30.

Wednesday (Dozier detractors still married to batting average) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated March 25th at 10:35am 297519791

dozierFew moves made by local teams — particularly the Twins — are universally hailed as smart decisions. But I really thought the news Tuesday that Brian Dozier had signed a four-year, $20 million deal with the Twins might be one of those exceptions. In addition to being win-win (Dozier gets security, the Twins get value), it showed a level of commitment to a very good player.

Silly me.

The comments section was, once again, set ablaze from every direction. Sure, there were some who praised the move. Others, however, barked everything from “overpaid!” to complaining about the Twins making a move they didn’t need to make to numerous digs at Dozier’s batting average.

It’s the last point on which we’d like to focus for a little while.

In an ideal world, Dozier wouldn’t hit in the .240s, like he has the past two seasons. He would instead hit in the .270s. (OK, in an ideal world every Twins hitter would bat 1.000, games would never end because nobody could get them out and eventually MLB would have to just step in and name them World Series champs. Dozier hitting .270 is more of the ideal realistic world).

There are reasons to believe that Dozier will settle in closer to that .270 range than his current .240s. He will mature as a hitter, continue to spray the ball more (last season, most of his line drives and ground balls went toward left field).

But even if Dozier never becomes more than what he is, he will be a very valuable hitter (and overall player) for the Twins. Among MLB second basemen last season, Dozier ranked 5th in on-base percentage — largely because he walked 89 times, far more than any other second baseman in the league. His OPS of .762 was fourth among 2Bs. And his WAR (wins above replacement) was fifth.

He’s an above-average player, and in a lot of very important categories he’s arguably elite. A better batting average would likely help all his other numbers, too (assuming it didn’t come at the expense of power), but there’s no reason he has to improve in that area to be valuable.

If he has four years over the duration of his $20 million contract that are similar to his 2014 season — FanGraphs says his 2014 season was worth more than that alone — the Twins will be very happy with their return on investment.

Tuesday (The 'good riddance' stage with Peterson) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated March 24th at 11:16am 297390961

petersonAdrian Peterson missed almost the entire 2014 season — though still made a lot of money — because he assaulted his 4-year-old child. Yes, we can call it that. Reckless assault is the misdemeanor charge to which Peterson pleaded, avoiding jail time.

The respectable course of action on Peterson’s part after that would have been contrition and a desire to make it right with a team and a fan base that was justified in its reactions to what happened.

Instead, Peterson and his representatives have behaved in the exact opposite way — having the gall to try to turn this into an opportunity to either get more money or force a trade, all the while trying (unsuccessfully) to portray Peterson as a victim in all of this.

It’s despicable. Whereas a lot of fans were willing to give Peterson a second chance, attempting to understand that he made a mistake based on unfortunate learned behavior, now public opinion has turned even more harshly against Peterson. We’ve reached the “good riddance” stage.

The final tipping point might be the comment from his agent, Ben Dogra, as quoted by ESPN.com on Monday night: “I don’t think it’s in Adrian’s best interest to play in Minnesota. Why would it be?”

What a gross, arrogant position.

The Vikings, of course, need to play this correctly (as they have so far). They need to maintain a public stance that they intend to keep Peterson. Under no circumstance should they give him a raise or a new contract — not now, after the way this has unfolded. Under no circumstance should they release him. Giving him a raise sends the wrong message, and keeping him in any way creates a cloud over the entire 2015 season. Releasing him brings nothing in return.

What they should do, and what they probably are doing, is quietly shop him to the highest bidder in a trade. They don’t need to be blown away by an offer. They just need to keep working until they get the best deal they can get.

And then they need to move on from one of the five greatest players to ever wear a Vikings uniform as fast as they can.

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