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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ESPN and Yahoo advancing the ball on Love/Wiggins trade talk

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated July 22nd at 2:57pm 268160652

Unless you get your sports news from a sports anchor at a TV station in Maine, you are inclined to believe a possible Kevin Love/Andrew Wiggins trade is not exactly a done deal.

But that doesn’t mean nothing is happening, as both ESPN’s Marc Stein and Yahoo’s NBA guru Woj have advanced the ball, so to speak, with reporting today.

First, per ESPN, which had their report up first:

The Cleveland Cavaliers are firmly in the lead to acquire Kevin Love but the Chicago Bulls are making a renewed push to get into the trade mix for the All-Star power forward, according to sources close to the process.

Sources told ESPN.com the Cavs are increasingly optimistic that they are progressing toward a trade framework that the Minnesota Timberwolves will accept in exchange for Love to pair him with his Team USA teammate LeBron James.

Cleveland’s offer, sources said, would be headlined by No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins, 2013′s No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett and a future first-round pick. At least one more player might have to added to the package to satisfy NBA trade rules.

Now, per Woj:

The Cleveland Cavaliers are pursuing trade components to include as part of a package with Minnesota to acquire All-Star forward Kevin Love, league sources told Yahoo Sports. Cleveland’s discussions with Minnesota have escalated with the Cavaliers’ willingness to include No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins in the deal, sources said.

Minnesota wants a package for Love to include guard J.J. Barea, who has $4.5 million left on his expiring deal – and possibly guard Kevin Martin, who has three years and $21 million left. As part of a larger deal, the Cavaliers want to include 2013 No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett and a future No. 1 pick for Love.

So where do we stand? Well, about where we were 24 hours ago, but on firmer ground. It sounds like a Cavs/Wolves trade is certainly in play and possibly progressing nicely toward reality. It sounds like the principles involved — Love for Wiggins, Bennett and a No. 1 pick — remain consistent. And it sounds like the work that still needs to be done is making the salaries match with other pieces. If that’s all that remains, we’re not at “done deal” yet, but we’re getting closer.

Chris Kluwe apologizes, kind of, for Penn State 'joke'

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated July 22nd at 2:34pm 268135232

kluweThe narrative in the story of Chris Kluwe vs. the Vikings has shifted somewhat to a cross-examination of Kluwe and a section of the report summary released last week that involved the former punter tearing a hole in his shorts and making a joke about former Penn State assistant Jerry Sandusky in front of Vikings conditioning coach Tom Kanavy (a Penn State alum).

To us, this represents an interesting dynamic in the whistle-blowing from Kluwe, since it could be viewed that he loses ground as the arbiter of right and wrong in his accusations against Mike Priefer when it becomes known that he, too, can act in such poor taste.

On the other hand, this is a completely separate issue from anything Priefer did or didn’t do — and shouldn’t cloud the picture when it comes to the overall question of the culture that permeated the Vikings.

Kluwe recognizes as much, but he also still can’t appear to get out of his own way when it comes to the Penn State issue, which he does not deny. Given a chance to flat-out apologize for it because it was in poor taste — cutting a hole in your shorts and portraying yourself as a victim of child abuse is 100 percent in poor taste, regardless of how you try to frame the intent of the joke — Kluwe got about halfway there in an interview with SI Now before attempting to ascend back to a position of higher moral ground. Per SI:

I realize that a lot of people found my joke in poor taste, which I’m sure was the entire purpose of the Vikings leaking it. Character assassination is a tried-and-true tactic for any sort of harassment lawsuit. But it’s something where I was making fun of the culture at Penn State, and if it offended people, then I apologize. I’m sorry for that.”

Nope. That’s not an apology. That’s a half-apology, sorry if you took it the wrong way apology, which is the worst kind. He continued:

But to make it seem like I was making fun of victims of child abuse, I mean, that is horrific. And really that kind of upsets me from a personal perspective, that the Vikings would try and spin it that way, because that’s insulting.”

Stop. Kluwe is clearly a smart guy. We’ve talked to him on multiple occasions and found him thoughtful, engaging and obviously well-spoken when it comes to putting thoughts together. We are also not numb to the idea that words or actions in private can take on a different, darker tenor than what we say or do publicly. If 100 percent of everything we ever said was part of a long official record, most of us would be in trouble.

But this Penn State “joke” is not a subjective matter any more than Priefer’s alleged “nuke the gays” comment is.

They are still two different issues, and we should do our best to separate out Kluwe’s holier-than-thou half-apology from the heart of the matter, but he didn’t do himself any favors in that interview.

Tuesday (Coach K would trade for Kevin Love) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated July 22nd at 11:31am 268112972

lovelebronThis story came out yesterday — insomuch as you can call something a college basketball coach said on a radio program a “story” — and we hesitated about posting on it.

But after sleeping on it (not literally, that would be weird), we begrudgingly decided the item about Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski saying he would trade for Kevin Love if he was the Cavaliers is at least interesting from a couple of standpoints.

As much as Krzyzewski is mocked by the anti-Duke crowd, nobody would argue that he has had a massive amount of success as a coach. He knows hoops, and he has coached Love twice on an international level, including at the 2012 London Olympics.

He is also a college coach with a tremendous amount of respect for the game at that level, so when he says he would trade No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins for Love without “one second of hesitancy” it holds some water. Coach K told John Feinstein on CBS Radio:

“He’s a double-double guy, but he’s a double-double guy that can spread the court. There aren’t many double-double guys, if any, who spread the court. He can go inside and outside…. No pun intended, but I love Kevin Love.”

He also outlined the LeBron factor — James will turn 30 this year and should prefer a sure thing to partner up with in Cleveland.

You do not want to waste any year of a great player’s career,” he said.

This could just amount to one guy’s respected opinion. Or it could also be the culmination of whispers he is hearing from plugged in basketball folks. James was also on that 2012 Olympic team. It wouldn’t even be shocking if Krzyzewski was doing his pal LeBron a favor by advancing the cause of a Cleveland trade.

So if a respected basketball mind is advocating the trade for the Cavs, why do we still like it for the Wolves? Because it’s a deal that clearly benefits both sides.

If Wiggins does sign this week, as has been reported, a deal cannot officially happen for 30 days thereafter. If the rumored deal of Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and a first-round pick is realistic, we hope Flip Saunders, the Cavaliers and all the fans involved have enough patience to see it through.

TFD: Teddy Bridgewater jerseys are more popular than Adrian Peterson jerseys

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated July 22nd at 11:34am 268012191

brigewaterAh, now there’s a classic misleading headline!

Well, there is at least some shred of truth to it. The top-selling NFL jerseys since April 1 were released today, and you’ll never guess who is number one.

OK, of course it’s Johnny Manziel.

Travel down on the list a little, and you’ll find Vikings rookie Teddy Bridgewater at No. 13, while running back Adrian Peterson is at No. 14. So in the roughly four months or so of tracking, Bridgewater’s jersey is more popular than Peterson’s.

It’s a bit of an unfair fight, of course, since the countless fans who already have Adrian Peterson jerseys presumably weren’t in any particular rush over the past four months to get brand new AP jerseys, while no no Bridgewater/Vikings jerseys existed before April 1 (except in the mind of Star Tribune football writer and Bridgewater No. 1 fan Master Tesfatsion).

Both Vikings, however, trailed the “12th Fan” jersey from Seattle, which was the 10th-best seller and proved beyond a doubt, once again, that our society is crumbling around us.

Twins starters don't give up as many hard-hit balls as we would imagine

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated July 21st at 8:04pm 267971761

correiaAfter this weekend’s disaster, in which the Twins’ hand-selected post-break first three starting pitchers — Kyle Gibson, Phil Hughes and Kevin Correia — combined to throw 17.1 innings and allow 15 earned runs against the Rays, Twins starting pitchers have a combined 4.96 ERA this season.

That’s nearly a run worse than the AL average for starters (4.06) and more than a run worse than the MLB average (3.94). That 4.96 ERA for starters ranks 28th in all of baseball, with only the injury-ravaged Rangers and the thin-air-challenged Rockies faring worse.

Interestingly enough, though, Twins starters don’t fare nearly as poorly when it comes to giving up hard-hit balls. The Twins are 20th in MLB — not good, but much better than their ERA ranking — when it comes to the percentage of balls hit hard off their starting pitchers, per ESPN stats guru Mark Simon.

What does this suggest? Well, the margins are pretty small, so it might not mean anything. Twins starters give up hard-hit balls 16 percent of the time; the worst team, Texas, sits at 18.3 percent. So basically Texas pitchers give up two more hard hit balls every 100 at-bats, which isn’t a huge amount.

It could mean the Twins’ defense is suspect, since it could stand to reason that the hard-hit ball ranking should be roughly equal to the ERA ranking. That said, any benefit from a lower hard-hit ball rate is probably wiped out by the fact that Twins starters have just 349 strikeouts, fewest of any staff in the majors. With more balls put in play, Twins starters are bound to be “unlucky” — either with soft-hit balls landing for hits or just the sheer volume of hard-hit balls overwhelming them regardless of the overall percentage.

A team like Atlanta, for instance, has a similar hard-hit ball rate among its starters (15.7 percent), but the Braves have  a very good starters’ ERA (3.38, sixth in the majors). Their starters have 525 strikeouts, No. 5 in the majors. The percentage is close to the same as the Twins, but with 176 more strikeouts from starters — almost all of which are guaranteed outs, except for the rare wild pitch/passed ball on a third strike — the volume of hard-hit balls and flares is much lower and logically many more overall outs are recorded.

Maybe Twins starters have been a little unlucky. It is possible to post an average-to-good ERA among starters without having a high strikeout rate (Toronto, KC and Pittsburgh all have starters’ ERAs more than a run better than Twins starters, even though all of them rank 22nd or worse in strikeouts).

More likely, though, their not-dreadful rank of 20th when it comes to hard-hit ball rate is wiped out, and then some, by the large number of balls put in play.

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