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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Thad Young talks about replacing Kevin Love, says he's not going to 'be a stat stuffer'

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated September 29th at 2:26pm 277484761

rickymartinTarget is getting a lot of bang for its naming rights buck today. We spent most of the mid-afternoon at Target Center for Wolves media day, and we’re headed shortly to Target Field for the 3 p.m. news conference to hear about sweeping changes with the Twins (Ron Gardenhire and the entire coaching staff let go).

We’ll have more Gardy thoughts after the presser; for now, here are some Wolves takeaways, starting with Thaddeus Young.

The new Wolves power forward has been adamant that he isn’t replacing Kevin Love in terms of production or trying to replicate what the traded superstar brings to the table. Instead, Young plans on being his own player.

Within the context of that, though, Young did have an an interesting comment during his allotted media time. Talking about Love’s propensity to average big numbers scoring and rebounding, Young said, “26 (points) and 12 (rebounds) hasn’t got us to the playoffs. … I’m not coming out here to try to be a stat stuffer.”

Again, Young could have just been talking about the differences in their games, but it felt like he was at least taking a mild shot at how Love’s stats figured into the overall picture with the Wolves, even if Young wasn’t here to personally witness it.

*Ricky Rubio and Kevin Martin were paired together in their media session (pictured, not to be confused with Ricky Martin), and we were struck by Martin’s declaration that he’s willing to be a team leader this season and that Flip Saunders will hold him a lot more accountable than former coach Rick Adelman did. Martin said he “got away with things” playing under Adelman.

*Corey Brewer was asked how much he followed the Love saga over the summer. He said he didn’t track it much, but he did say, “I knew he was going to get out of here. Let’s all be honest.” It was interesting, in our mind, that players had figured out (whether by Love telling them outright or just sensing from the environment a year ago) that Love wouldn’t be here this year.

*We asked several shooting guards/small forwards about the crowd at the wing position. The general answer is that it’s a good thing and will create competition, but that will be one of the most interesting camp battles.

*Wiggins has “Hall of Fame potential,” Martin said.

*Anthony Bennett and Shabazz Muhammad went through an intense summer workout program and look noticeably leaner. We took a picture of them when they had their shirts off because that’s totally a normal thing to do.

Monday (Breaking down Bridgewater's debut) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated September 29th at 1:19pm 277453501

teddyfridgewaterOur natural temptation after watching Teddy Bridgewater throw for 317 yards and rush for a TD in his first start Sunday — helping the Vikings to a 41-28 victory in which they amassed the fourth-most yards in team history — was to compare him to Daunte Culpepper.

Daunte was the last young Vikings QB to make that kind of a splash in his debut; Tarvaris Jackson certainly didn’t do it, and even though Christian Ponder did have flashes in his first start against Green Bay, you never looked at him and said, “This is the future, no doubt.”

We were at that first Culpepper game — in the Dome, circa 2000, against the Bears — when he ran for three touchdowns and led a 30-27 comeback victory.

What we didn’t remember is that Culpepper’s passing numbers for the day were pretty ordinary: 13 of 23, 190 yards, no TD passes and one INT. His 13 carries for 73 yards and three TDs were huge, of course, but in our memory for some reason his passing day was better.

We dare say Bridgewater was even better than that against the Falcons, which is saying a lot: 19 for 30, 317 yards, no turnovers, and some key scrambles. More than just the raw numbers, he was composed in the face of adversity. While he benefited from tremendous line play and a fantastic running game, Bridgewater also had to overcome a massive momentum swing when the Falcons took a 28-27 lead.

Bridgewater missed a key deep ball to Jarius Wright, but on what proved to be his final drive he calmly marched the Vikings down the field for a score that gave them the lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

A lot of Bridgewater’s early work came on short passes — the kind of throws that inflated Ponder’s numbers in 2012, when he had Percy Harvin to turn 2-yard gains into more. But he finished the day 8 for 12 for 163 yards on passes that traveled at least 10 yards.

We lobbied hard for the Vikings to draft Johnny Manziel (not that it mattered what we thought, but our Johnny Football love was well-documented). One start will not define the inevitable comparisons between Manziel and Bridgewater, but at least for now the Vikings (and their fans) have to feel very good about the decision.

TFD: MLB Network's John Smoltz weighs in on Twins, Gardenhire's future

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated September 26th at 4:39pm 277268701

We had a chance to catch up with John Smoltz — former Braves great, 1991 Game 7 hero and current MLB Network analyst — for a Sunday Q&A that will run in print in a couple of days. We thought we’d offer a taste here of the parts where we talked Twins:

RB: Shifting to the Twins and what I imagine is a decision looming on manager Ron Gardenhire. You played so much of your career for one manager, Bobby Cox. Where do you come down on continuity vs. change and what that stability meant?

JS: (The Twins) had a philosophy and model that worked back in the day, and they’re having to adjust on the fly based on the power arms that exist today. … They always wanted the least amount of walks and (pitching to) contact, and it worked for a while. But it doesn’t play as much, as other organizations have proven. That’s part of the issue. … But stability is huge. That doesn’t mean every manager should manage for 23 years, but with the Twins, I think they do a good job with character and developing talent.

RB: Is it possible in an instant gratification era for a manager to survive four seasons in a row of 90 losses?

JS: I think it is possible if everyone is on the same page with what they’re trying to do. Everyone thinks managers can push a lot of buttons to win. If the players don’t produce, and aren’t in the position to be evaluated correctly, then a manager’s job of winning or losing baseball games gets falsely reported. A manager’s job in baseball, more than any other sport, is managing people. … They’ve scored a lot of runs this year. It comes down to pitching. Phil Hughes has had a great bounceback year, and when you start getting some more of that you start feeling good about your chances.

Mid-day talker: Twins, Hughes manage to turn delicate situation into a positive

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated September 26th at 1:26pm 277240851

hughespicSince we wrote about the initial quandary and made a shouty video with Reusse yesterday about it, we felt compelled to follow up (for the final time) about the Phil Hughes $500K bonus situation.

Looking at it 24 hours ago, it felt impossible that everyone would come out of this looking good. Either the Twins would be branded as cheap, or Hughes would be branded as greedy (with the former more likely than the latter, considering indications were the Twins couldn’t/weren’t inclined to just give him the money when he fell 1/3 of an inning short of his incentive).

Against the odds, that is what has happened. The Twins’ field staff and management conferred and decided to give Hughes a chance to earn his bonus with an inning of relief in Detroit. That was a more than fair offer, since Hughes would normally have a throwing day sometime during this final series anyway.

Hughes mulled the offer but ultimately declined, telling reporters that he didn’t want to risk injury and adding on the FSN broadcast last night that he didn’t think it was fair to take an inning away from fringe bullpen guys who make in a season about the same as his bonus would have been and who are fighting for roster spots.

The Twins came off looking smart and generous. Hughes came off looking like a noble teammate who has a smart grasp of the big-picture. Both sides can be happy with the result, which could be important if and when they start talking about a contract extension.

If you think that kind of talk is premature given Hughes’ up-and-down history, we present this counter argument: he was underpaid this season at $8.5 million (after incentives he did hit) and his base over the next two seasons totals $16 million. If the Twins added two more years at $12 million per, it would essentially be a four-year, $40 million deal. If Hughes was a free agent right now coming off the kind of season he had, that would still be a bargain.

Regardless, the two sides are in a good place going into the offseason. Who would have thought that a situation that looked like an unwanted PR disaster could actually turn into a positive?

Friday (National advertisers avoiding Vikings?) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated September 26th at 9:53am 277212321

petersonThe list of sponsors and other entities distancing themselves from Adrian Peterson while he is embroiled in controversy and a legal battle has been been well-chronicled.

But there is new reporting suggesting the fallout could be even more far-reaching for the Vikings — and also the Ravens, who are going through their own massive controversy, of course, with Ray Rice.

Awful Announcing alerted us to a Hollywood Reporter story that indicates the number of brands that don’t want to be associated with the Vikings or Ravens is larger than we might think. Per the story:

Multiple media buyers tell THR that clients have requested their ads not appear during games featuring the Ravens or Minnesota Vikings, the team of suspended running back Adrian Peterson (due in a Texas court Oct. 8 on a child abuse charge for whipping his 4-year-old son). CBS, which kicked off its $275 million Thursday Night Football package Sept. 11 with strong ratings for a Ravens game, had one sponsor ask to be removed from the broadcast and another request its ads shift, likely away from a discussion of the violence issue during CBS Sports’ pregame report. CBS declined to identify the sponsors.

As Awful Announcing notes, this is problematic in short-term thinking, since these are only the “scandals of the moment.” Will advertisers bounce from team to team, week to week?

But it’s certainly also a problem for the Vikings and Ravens if their brands are considered so poisonous that an entity would still be comfortable with the NFL as a whole, but not those two organizations.

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