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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Randy Moss, Herschel Walker trade part of ESPN's new '30 for 30' lineup

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated September 18th at 9:48am 275481511

randymossThis hardly qualifies as anything close to the most interesting Vikings news of late, but ESPN announced the fall lineup for its acclaimed “30 for 30″ documentary series, and former Vikings receiver Randy Moss is slated to be a subject.

Per an ESPN news release:

“Rand University” will explore the enigma that is former NFL star Randy Moss by going back to where he came from — Rand, West Virginia.

We wholeheartedly look forward to viewing it when it debuts Nov. 11 and support the name of the documentary 100 percent.

In addition, however, there is a documentary we don’t really care to see. It’s not a full “30 for 30,” but …

The “Playing for the Mob” debut on October 7 will be immediately followed by a special premiere of a new 30 for 30 Short titled “The Great Trade Robbery,” directed by Stu Zicherman. Launching on Grantland the next day, this short film is a first-person account by Jimmy Johnson of arguably the most significant trade in NFL history—when the Dallas Cowboys built their Super Bowl dynasty 25 years ago by sending star running back Herschel Walker to the Minnesota Vikings.

Set your DVRs and adjust your rage accordingly.

Wednesday (Jared Allen on Adrian Peterson) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated September 17th at 9:55am 275442361

allenpetersonWe had a chance to chat Tuesday evening with Jared Allen for a story very much NOT about football — his bull, Magic Train, is competing in a Professional Bull Riders event Saturday at Target Center. Afterwards, though, we also had a chance to chat about Adrian Peterson.

Allen, who is in his first season with the Bears, was teammates with Peterson from 2008-13 and offered these perspectives on the unfolding saga involving the Vikings running back:

*”It’s a sad deal all the way around. Obviously, the Adrian I know is a good-hearted man and I judge people on what I know. People make mistakes. I pray that everyone learns from this situation and it’s handled with dignity and integrity, and that he can become a better man out of it.”

*”I have my beliefs, but I also know the Bible says those without sin cast the first stone. We’ve all made mistakes in our lives, and the key thing is to learn from it, to move forward in a positive way. And also to be sensitive to who is hurting. There are a lot of people hurting in all this. It’s upsetting, but I just pray for an outcome that’s better for all those involved.”

*”I was very much surprised. I don’t know all the details, but I saw the pictures. It’s upsetting. But like I said I judge people on how they treat me, and Adrian was always a kind-hearted human being to myself, my wife and my daughter. He’s been to my house many times. It was a shock to everybody. There will be consequences. There are always consequences for every action.”

Allen made those comments around 6:30  p.m. Tuesday, a handful of hours before the Vikings reversed course (again) and announced Peterson was being placed on the Exempt/Commissioner’s Permission list and kept away from the Vikings as his legal situation plays out.

TFD: Ex-Viking Fran Tarkenton blasts organization for handling of Peterson situation

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated September 16th at 5:22pm 275359091

Well, Fran Tarkenton has never been one to hide his true feelings. And the legendary former Vikings QB shared some of those strong words in an interview with Fox. A couple snips:

* “I’m embarrassed. And I was on the very first Vikings team that ever was. And I’m embarrassed.These are serious accusations. … This is way above winning or losing a football game. I strongly disagree with the notion of playing him this week.”

*“They have a better chance of winning with their best player, that’s the message they’re sending. That is the message that’s being sent by this action. Winning is more important than defending a 4-year-old child.”

You can read the full story here.

Twins' bullpen is predictably wearing down, melting down again

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated September 16th at 1:14pm 275317331

fienFor the first four months of the 2014 season, the Twins bullpen was among the team’s bright spots. Even as the starting pitching faltered yet again — outside of Phil Hughes and every other Kyle Gibson start — the ‘pen was holding things together and keeping Minnesota at least somewhat competitive.

The bullpen ERAs, by month this season:

March/April: 3.42; May: 3.86; June: 2.96; July: 2.53. The MLB average for the season is 3.58; the Twins were better than that mark three of the first four months, and certainly better than that overall number through the end of July.

But now we are seeing, yet again, the burden of an overtaxed bullpen. Early in the season, arms have an easier time compensating for the short starts (and therefore long bullpen nights) created by an underwhelming starting staff. But now? The Twins’ bullpen ERA soared to 5.09 in August and has ballooned to 5.70 so far in September.

Being overworked doesn’t explain all of it, since September callups can also contribute to a swollen ERA, but watching Casey Fien give up back-to-back homers in the ninth last night in his 71st game of the season (tied for third-most among pitchers in the majors) was another piece of anecdotal evidence that these lads are tired.

The same thing happened last year, with very good bullpen numbers through August before the ‘pen ERA bloated to 4.96 in September.

This year, Minnesota’s bullpen is tied for the second-most innings pitched in MLB. Last year, the Twins led the majors in that category, with the next-closest team a full 24 innings behind them.

It’s yet another reason the Twins need to figure out this rotation. Not only has another disappointing year from starting pitchers wasted an unexpectedly good offensive showing, it is helping to turn another positive year from the bullpen into a negative finish.

Tuesday (NFL TV ratings down) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated September 16th at 10:03am 275289781

goodellIt’s dangerous reading too much into TV data from one week, since so many factors can influence viewing habits and skew comparisons even between similar time frames.

That said, given the tumultuous NFL week that led up to the Week 2 games, it’s at least worthwhile to take a look at the TV numbers to see if the raw data tells us anything about the impact on viewership

Awful Announcing breaks it down here, time slot by time slot, and finds that in most cases TV ratings were down in Week 2 this year compared to Week 2 last year. The most notable drop came in the late afternoon time slot (3:25 p.m. Central games), which CBS had this past week. Per AA:

CBS saw the biggest drop of any window, as they had Broncos-Giants — AKA Manning Bowl III — in this window last year. That said, it’s a little surprising that a window mostly led by Chiefs-Broncos and Jets-Packers drew only a 14.6 overnight, still leading the weekend but down 18 percent from this window last season.

Again, the 18 percent drop could be chalked up primarily, if not entirely, to less-enticing matchups this year when compared to a major story line a year ago. Still, as the site notes, an 18 percent drop is significant (and, on a personal note, fits neatly into the time we turned the TV off after the Vikings instead of watching more football, as had been our previous custom).

The noon time slots on Fox and CBS were down 4 percent and 7 percent from this time last year. Sunday Night Football was up slightly from a year ago (3 percent), though it was noted on Awful Announcing that last year’s Week 2 game went up against a big episode of Breaking Bad and also featured a rare weather delay.

What do these numbers mean? Probably not much given that it’s only one week. What will bear watching, however, is whether it marks the start of a trend in which ratings are consistently dropping when compared to last season. The overall NFL TV numbers are still so massive that a small drop doesn’t really dent the big picture of how popular the sport still is, but a little drop here and a little drop there could add up to trouble. We’ll try to check in on the numbers periodically throughout the season to see if there are any larger trends at play.

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Texas - WP: N. Martinez 7 FINAL
Oakland - LP: S. Gray 2
Boston - LP: B. Workman 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: G. Cole 3
Toronto - LP: A. Sanchez 2 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: D. Robertson 3
Washington - WP: G. Gonzalez 6 FINAL
Miami - LP: B. Hand 2
Los Angeles 1 Top 7th Inning
Chicago Cubs 4
Cleveland 0 Top 9th Inning
Houston 1
Milwaukee 2 Bottom 8th Inning
St. Louis 0
Arizona 6 Bottom 6th Inning
Colorado 2
Philadelphia 1 Bottom 5th Inning
San Diego 2
Seattle 0 Bottom 2nd Inning
LA Angels 0
Tampa Bay 0 3rd Qtr 11:02
Atlanta 35
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
(5) Auburn 20 4th Qtr 4:32
(20) Kansas State 7
Connecticut 9/19/14 7:00 PM
So Florida
Old Dominion 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Rice
Troy 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Syracuse
Tulane 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Duke
Hawaii 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Marshall 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Carolina 9/20/14 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 9/20/14 2:30 PM
SMU
Rutgers 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Central Mich 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Kansas
Utah 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 9/20/14 2:30 PM
FIU
Fla Atlantic 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Indiana 9/20/14 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Minnesota
Texas State 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Illinois
Massachusetts 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 9/20/14 5:00 PM
Washington
Appalachian St 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas
Middle Tennessee 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Memphis
Utah State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Idaho 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
(14) So Carolina 9/20/14 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 9/20/14 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 9/20/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 9/20/14 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 9/20/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9/20/14 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Toronto 9/19/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Edmonton 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Winnipeg
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM
Calgary

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