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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Joe Mauer and Giants P Madison Bumgarner have the same number of homers this season

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated September 24th at 6:07pm 276995911

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.

Phil Hughes story lines: Contract incentive and K/BB ratio record

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated September 24th at 5:17pm 276975321

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?

Stay tuned.

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 …

Wednesday (Against Football) Edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated September 24th at 3:08pm 276931681

stevealmondSteve 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.

TFD: Packers' Rodgers tells fans not to worry about dreadful start

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated September 23rd at 6:33pm 276845161

ILSThe Packers’ offense is sputtering, managing just one TD against the Lions in a 19-7 loss Sunday that dropped Green Bay to 1-2.

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.

Gophers one-liners: Streveler on his 'completion'; Botticelli on Maryland and Rutgers

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated September 23rd at 6:09pm 276740271

strevelerThe 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.

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Buffalo 12:00 PM
New England
Cleveland 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Dallas 12:00 PM
Washington
Indianapolis 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Jacksonville 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12:00 PM
Miami
Chicago 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Carolina 3:25 PM
Atlanta
Detroit 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Oakland 3:25 PM
Denver
Arizona 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 3:25 PM
Seattle
Cincinnati 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
TBA 1/3/15 2:00 AM
TBA
TBA 1/3/15 2:00 AM
TBA
Toronto 110 FINAL
LA Clippers 98
Boston 88 FINAL
Washington 101
Orlando 102 FINAL
Charlotte 94
Memphis 103 FINAL
Miami 95
Indiana 110 FINAL
Brooklyn 85
New Orleans 100 FINAL
Chicago 107
Atlanta 90 FINAL
Milwaukee 85
Philadelphia 71 FINAL
Utah 88
New York 129 FINAL
Sacramento 135
Minnesota 97 FINAL
Golden State 110
NY Islanders 3 FINAL(SO)
Buffalo 4
Detroit 3 FINAL(OT)
Ottawa 2
Carolina 1 FINAL
Tampa Bay 2
New Jersey 1 FINAL
NY Rangers 3
Boston 2 FINAL
Columbus 6
Winnipeg 4 FINAL(OT)
Minnesota 3
Washington 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 0
Dallas 4 FINAL
St. Louis 3
Philadelphia 1 FINAL
Nashville 4
Anaheim 1 FINAL(SO)
Arizona 2
Chicago 5 FINAL
Colorado 2
Edmonton 1 FINAL
Calgary 4
San Jose 1 FINAL
Los Angeles 3
Indiana 87 FINAL
Georgetown 91
Maine 43 FINAL
Seton Hall 72
UNC-Wilmington 82 FINAL
Minnesota 108
Georgia State 61 FINAL
Green Bay 78
Jacksonville St 61 FINAL
Jacksonville 75
Kentucky 58 FINAL
Louisville 50
Northern Ky 55 FINAL
Northwestern 76
UAB 58 FINAL
North Carolina 89
IUPUI 55 FINAL
Pepperdine 53
Santa Clara 60 FINAL
St Marys-CA 73
Oakland 56 FINAL
Maryland 72
Gonzaga 87 FINAL
BYU 80
Mercer 77 FINAL
Georgia 86
San Francisco 77 FINAL
Pacific 71
Wright State 55 FINAL
Ohio State 100
Presbyterian 65 FINAL
Virginia Tech 87
Brescia 42 FINAL
Western Ky 89
Tennessee St 46 FINAL
Tennessee 67
Kennesaw St 45 FINAL
Illinois 93
Colorado State 58 FINAL
New Mexico St 57
Portland 61 FINAL
San Diego 58
Wayland Baptist 63 FINAL
Utah State 75
Bristol University 59 FINAL
Weber State 109
Sacramento St 74 FINAL
Utah Valley U 49
Southern Utah 45 FINAL
UNLV 79
SD Christian 50 FINAL
San Diego St 72
Illinois 18 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 35
Rutgers 40 FINAL
North Carolina 21
NC State 34 FINAL
UCF 27
Cincinnati 17 FINAL
Virginia Tech 33
(15) Arizona State 36 FINAL
Duke 31
Miami-Florida 21 FINAL
So Carolina 24
Boston College 30 FINAL
Penn State 31
(25) Nebraska 42 FINAL
(24) USC 45
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Texas
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
Stanford
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
(19) Auburn 1/1/15 11:00 AM
(17) Wisconsin
(7) Michigan State 1/1/15 11:30 AM
(4) Baylor
(16) Missouri 1/1/15 12:00 PM
Minnesota
(2) Florida State 1/1/15 4:00 PM
(3) Oregon
(5) Ohio State 1/1/15 7:30 PM
(1) Alabama
Houston 1/2/15 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Iowa 1/2/15 2:20 PM
Tennessee
(11) Kansas State 1/2/15 5:45 PM
(14) UCLA
Washington 1/2/15 9:15 PM
Oklahoma State
East Carolina 1/3/15 11:00 AM
Florida
SMU 45 FINAL
(2) Connecticut 96
UCF 64 FINAL
Houston 50
BYU 62 FINAL
Gonzaga 78
Pacific 92 FINAL
San Francisco 54
St Marys-CA 62 FINAL
Santa Clara 61
San Diego 87 FINAL
Portland 65

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