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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MLB testing new rules to speed up the game during Arizona Fall League

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated October 1st at 1:44pm 277786081

twinsIf we came off a little “grumpy old man-ish” Tuesday by including a notion that baseball is killing itself with extravagant game lengths in our weird post about Mike Leach and Tinder, please do know the upshot is that we really just want baseball to make subtle adjustments to eliminate wasted time.

We’ll gladly watch a game that lasts 3 hours and 2 minutes — the average time of a regular-season game in 2014, nearly 30 minutes longer than what it was a generation ago — if it feels like the time spent is meaningful. We’ll even stick with a game until the bitter end, like last night, because baseball can be just that compelling and has always been our favorite sport.

What drives us crazy is getting nickel-and-dimed — five seconds wasted here, 10 seconds there — by pitchers wandering around near the mound, interminable conferences at the mound, and batters stepping in and out of the box to adjust their batting gloves. There are small things baseball can do to eliminate waste without damaging the integrity of the game.

Fortunately, MLB agrees and will test out some experimental measures during Arizona Fall League play designed to speed up the game. Among the trials:

*Teams will be limited to three meetings at the mound per game, with the exception of pitching changes. That includes catchers.

*Intentional walks will be automatic, with no pitches thrown.

*Hitters will be required to keep one foot in the batter’s box throughout an at-bat, except during foul balls, wild pitches and passed balls.

*At one ballpark, a 20-second clock will keep pitchers and hitters on a schedule.

We will be very interested to see what impact these measures, and a few others, have on the pace of the game. If MLB could even shave 10 minutes off its average game time — 10 minutes that are largely wasted right now — it would go a long way.

Wednesday (Will we ever be Royals?) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated October 1st at 12:04pm 277748481

Pop sensation Lorde wrote her biggest hit, “Royals,” after seeing a picture of George Brett from 1976. This is a true fact. You can look it up. They have even had their picture taken together since.

Kansas City was one of MLB’s model franchises during much of Brett’s era, making the postseason seven times in 10 seasons between 1976 and 1985 — and winning the World Series in that final appearance.

It sounds a lot like the Twins’ run of six division titles in nine seasons from 2002-10 (minus the World Series, of course). And it is also a reminder that there are no guarantees of a swift return to prominence.

Kansas City waited 29 years before returning to the postseason, cracking the code this year with a Wild Card berth. What happened Tuesday night was nearly three decades in the making. The game could have turned out any number of ways, but the way it did finish — with comeback after comeback by the host Royals, including two runs in the bottom of the 12th after being taken to the brink in the top half by the A’s — seemed like it was the only natural way to end.

It was a thrilling, gripping game — very reminiscent of Game 163 between the Twins and Tigers in 2009. Yes, that was only five years ago. It feels like more, but really that was it. The Twins even made it back to the playoffs the next year, too.

Minnesota has a long way to go when it comes to feeling KC’s pain of playoff droughts. But when you’re on the downswing, as the Twins have been for the past four years, it can start to feel like forever pretty fast.

Lorde declares “we’ll never be royals” in her song, which is about something entirely different than baseball. At this point, we’re left to shift it to a question: Will the Twins ever be Royals — and if so, how soon?

TFD: Ex-NFL player Warren Sapp a little too enthusiastic about Ebola reaching the U.S.

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated September 30th at 4:46pm 277658361

Sobering news today: Ebola has been confirmed in the United States. This not funny in any way.

What is funny, in our warped mind, is the strange reaction from former NFL player Warren Sapp via Twitter, both in terms of punctuation and hashtag. Maybe it’s just us.

Bill Belichick the GM is making life hard on Bill Belichick the coach

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated September 30th at 3:24pm 277638711

belichickBill Belichick is probably the best head coach in the NFL. But he also has almost complete control over his roster, and that authority — which worked for a long time, though also used to have a better system of checks and balances before Scott Pioli went to the Chiefs in 2009 — is compromising his ability to effectively coach on the field.

This is becoming more evident this season, as the Patriots’ roster gets worse and worse. Mike Sando from ESPN.com (Insider) broke down what most people can already see:

Four of the 21 offensive draft choices since 2010 are regular starters. That list includes Nate SolderMarcus Cannon, Rob Gronkowski and Stevan Ridley, but only Gronkowski is a building-block player, and only if he can regain top form following yet another injury.

Solder, Gronkowski, Shane Vereen, Dobson, Ridley, Price, Ryan Mallett and Jimmy Garoppolo were the offensive players Belichick has selected in the first three rounds since 2010.

Hernandez should be headlining the offensive players New England has drafted in the middle rounds over those same five drafts, but he’s in jail. That leaves Boyce, Bryan StorkJames White, Cannon, Cameron Fleming and Lee Smith as the offensive players New England has drafted in the fourth and fifth rounds. The late-round guys — Jon Halapio, Ted Larsen, Thomas Welch, Ebert, Gallon and Zac Robinson — aren’t doing the Patriots any good right now.

A lack of talent catches up to you at a certain point, no matter how good your schemes and QB are. With Tom Brady aging and the players around him getting worse, it shouldn’t be surprising to see New England lose in the fashion it did Monday.

Tuesday (Mike Leach, football and Tinder) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated September 30th at 10:33am 277600501

leachStrange but true: we’ve been looking for an entry point to write about Tinder, which we describe as the casual dating app that connects people with the mere swipe of a screen.

Tinder has no use in our life, having been married for 7 years, but we’ve still been trying to sort through our feelings on the concept of it. Does it merely speed up the process of traditional matchmaking — noncommittal as it might be — or is it a hopelessly shallow means to an end that is about as romantic as calling (or texting) a “good time” phone number scrawled on the stall of a bathroom?

This is a sports blog (usually), so there wasn’t really a good way for us to express those sentiments without seeming terribly off topic … until, of course, Washington State football coach Mike Leach had his weekly news conference. Leach never met a topic he couldn’t veer toward, and this week he delved into the notion of modern romance — not specifically Tinder, but close enough. Said Leach (and yes, we swear this was at a news conference about football):

I’m not really good with technology. All this button pushing and whatnot. I mean, you can just imagine based on what’s happened in the last 15 years. Conversations won’t happen 10 years from now. There aren’t going to be people to talk to, it’s going to be this (mimics pushing buttons). ‘Do you want to go out on a date with me?’ ‘I don’t know, what do you look like?’ ‘Well I look kind of like this.’ ‘OK, what are your interests?’ ‘Well, what do you think my interests are? Looking into this thing and typing into this just like yours are.’ ‘Yeah, no kidding, that’s what everybody’s doing.’ ‘Well, where do you want to go?’ ‘Well, what  difference does it make? Because all we’re going to be doing is looking into machines anyways.’ Well, that’s true and in the end it’s going to be tough to perpetuate the species. There’s no question about that. So we’re all going to look in this box and eventually be extinct. That’s how it ends.”

Leach got pretty dark pretty quick there, diving headlong from the problems of dating in 2014 to the extinction of the species. But we can’t say we entirely disagree (not really about the extinction part), even if we’re not sure it’s fair to judge a process in which we are not an active participant.

The broader connection to football here, aside from a colorful coach going off on a tangent, is that in some ways we feel Leach’s sentiments mirror how some sports are played these days — and part of the reason some are in danger of extinction, too.

For all football’s inherent beauty, savagery, problems and triumphs, it has regardless felt wonderfully unscripted. The best athletes on a given day were going to triumph based on their prowess on the field — within a set of scripted plays, of course, but typically the plays were predicated upon players following general assignments and physically bettering their opponents.

Baseball, too, was a very intense battle of skill — pitcher vs. batter — with a “here it is, if you can hit it” mentality.

Football now feels more and more like a set of sophisticated simulations playing out on a field after coaches spend grueling 18-hour days devising the best ways to defeat an opponent — not by outplaying them, but by outthinking or confusing them.

Baseball is killing itself with information. We know exact splits and tendencies, so why wouldn’t a manager use 7 different pitchers, often more than one in an inning, if he sees a way to get an edge? It fundamentally changes the way games are played, and more so it creates absurdly long games that will eventually drive fans away in droves if it can’t be fixed. But would you stop using information and technology available if you found it to be useful? Probably not.

That brings us back to Leach and modern romance. He’s decrying something he doesn’t understand, but fundamentally he has a point. Someone who uses Tinder, though, is merely using a tool that provides a quicker means to an end … often though (we would imagine) without thinking about thinking about the consequences or even the rationale for using it other than “it exists and therefore it is progress.”

All of this probably raises some larger points about the blindingly fast pace of technological advancement in society beyond just sports and sex, but that’s a story for another time.

For now, we’re left to wonder how it will impact the sports we love, while Leach is left to wonder if there will even be people around to play them.


San Francisco - M. Bumgarner 7:07 PM
Pittsburgh - E. Volquez
Minnesota 10/2/14 7:25 PM
Green Bay
Buffalo 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Chicago 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland 10/5/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Atlanta 10/5/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Tampa Bay 10/5/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Houston 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Arizona 10/5/14 3:05 PM
Kansas City 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
NY Jets 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Diego
Cincinnati 10/5/14 7:30 PM
New England
Seattle 10/6/14 7:30 PM
Washington 6:00 PM
Carolina 6:00 PM
Pittsburgh 6:30 PM
Montreal 7:30 PM
Arizona 8:00 PM
Fla Atlantic 10/2/14 6:00 PM
UCF 10/2/14 6:00 PM
Arizona 10/2/14 9:30 PM
(2) Oregon
Louisville 10/3/14 6:00 PM
San Diego St 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Utah State 10/3/14 9:15 PM
(18) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(12) Miss State
Ball State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(21) Oklahoma State
Marshall 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Old Dominion
Southern Miss 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Middle Tennessee
(20) Ohio State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Purdue 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Florida 10/4/14 11:00 AM
SMU 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(22) East Carolina
Virginia Tech 10/4/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Eastern Mich 10/4/14 1:00 PM
North Texas 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Massachusetts 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Tulsa 10/4/14 2:00 PM
Colorado State
New Mexico 10/4/14 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
(3) Alabama 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(11) Ole Miss
(14) Stanford 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(9) Notre Dame
(17) Wisconsin 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Navy 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
(7) Baylor 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(4) Oklahoma 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(25) TCU
Wake Forest 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
NC State 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Bowling Green
Ohio U 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich
Oregon State 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt 10/4/14 3:00 PM
(13) Georgia
Kansas 10/4/14 3:00 PM
West Virginia
Kent State 10/4/14 4:00 PM
Northern Ill
South Alabama 10/4/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St
Texas-El Paso 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
(15) LSU 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
UAB 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Ky
Texas Tech 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(23) Kansas State
Michigan 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hawaii 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Toledo 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Mich
ULM 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Georgia State 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Idaho 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Texas State
Memphis 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arizona State 10/4/14 6:30 PM
(16) USC
So Carolina 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Pittsburgh 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Miami-Florida 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Georgia Tech
(19) Nebraska 10/4/14 7:00 PM
(10) Michigan State
UNLV 10/4/14 7:00 PM
San Jose St
Ga Southern 10/4/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Utah 10/4/14 9:30 PM
(8) UCLA
Boise State 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Winnipeg 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Calgary 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Brt Columbia 10/4/14 6:00 PM



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