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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Here's how the Twins' opening day payroll ranked in MLB, from 1998-2014

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated October 16th at 6:40am 279355412

Here’s a very basic web site that has some very good information all in one place: the opening day payrolls of every MLB team from 1998-present.

That has allowed us to show you where the Twins have ranked every year during that span:

1998: 24th

1999: 29th

2000: 30th (last)

2001: 30th (last)

2002: 27th

2003: 18th

2004: 19th

2005: 20th

2006: 19th

2007: 18th

2008: 25th

2009: 24th

2010: 11th

2011: 9th

2012: 13th

2013: 22nd

2014: 24th

What do these numbers tell us? Well, there are nuances — but here are some things we think they tell us as we go back through the years:

*When they were constantly rebuilding and not even trying to compete in the late 1990s/2000, the payroll reflected it.

*When they won their first division title in 2002 with a very young core, they got away with a dirt cheap roster.

*When the Twins kept winning in the mid-2000s and some of their better young players started making more money, their payroll jumped from bottom of the barrel to lower-middle (18th-20th from 2003-07).

*Without Johan Santana and Torii Hunter in 2008, the payroll again dipped as the Twins successfully rebuilt on the fly — hence getting away with lower payrolls with a new young core even though both seasons featured a Game 163 (one win, one loss).

*When the Twins moved into Target Field, some of those players were due to get paid, while the organization was suddenly flush with cash for the first time. Free agents came in. Payroll climbed to higher levels than at any other time from 2010-12 — one very good season and two other dreadful seasons.

*In the past two seasons, in the midst of a rebuild, the Twins scaled back the payroll as they went with younger players.

In short: The Twins have had the most success during this span when they develop successful young cores with modest payrolls. When they have run into trouble is when their young players aren’t ready to compete yet (recent seasons, plus the late 1990s) or when a high-budget veteran roster all falls apart at once (2011, 2012).

The Twins in 2015 figure to be around 25th in the majors in payroll. If things go exceedingly well and next year is a lot like 2001 (a young core blossoming at once), they will likely get away with a couple more years of lower payrolls while still being competitive until those young players get paid and bump the payroll back toward the middle of the pack. If the Twins’ brass is feeling particularly good about those teams, they might make a short-term run at some higher-priced players and bump the payroll into the top-10 range, though they will certainly be wary of the lessons learned in 2011.

Here are some of the dumbest things athletes have stolen over the years

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated October 15th at 2:43pm 279330502

crablegsCowboys RB Joseph Randle was busted recently for shoplifting underwear and cologne from a department store.

This is frighteningly dumb behavior, of course — and he ended up being find nearly $30K by his team for attempting to steal merchandise worth about a hundred bucks. He makes half a million dollars a year, so we can only assume this was some sort of dare or compulsion.

But he’s not alone!

Athletes have been stealing dumb things for years. Here is a small roundup of things we found with only the most cursory of Internet searches:

*Chris Nilan, a former NHL player, was arrested on a charge of stealing a bathing suit.

*MLB pitcher Mike Leake, in 2011, was arrested on a charge of stealing six shirts with a total value of less than $60.

*Two Oregon basketball players, just last month, were arrested for shoplifting from a grocery store in Eugene.

*That followed hot on the heels of Jameis Winston and his crab legs.

So the next time you read about an athlete stealing something they should really pay for, don’t be surprised.

Wednesday (Most important recent Vikings draft pick) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated October 15th at 12:02pm 279289192

brigewaterWe wrote today for the Newspaper Of The Twin Cities about the Vikings’ seven recent first-round draft picks — all of whom were chosen by GM Rick Spielman in the past three drafts, which is a volume of first-round picks unprecedented in a three-year span for any NFL team over the last quarter-century.

The general sentiment was that Spielman is inevitably linked to those seven picks, as they will largely, as a collective, determine how successful the Vikings’ rebuilding project is. Whenever you have that many shots at elite talent, they need to pay off.

We noted that all seven have shown anywhere from flashes of brilliance to consistently strong play, but all have had setbacks of varying degrees as well.

In this venue, we pose a question:

Assuming that Matt Kalil (the first of the seven picks) and Teddy Bridgewater (the last of the seven picks) are the most important individuals in determining the success of the Vikings, in what order would you put the other five when it comes to their importance to the future of the team?

(Or, if you disagree that Kalil and/or Bridgewater are at the top of the list, we’d love to hear that reasoning as well).

Our order goes like this:

Bridgewater, Kalil, Xavier Rhodes, Harrison Smith, Anthony Barr, Cordarrelle Patterson and Sharrif Floyd. The logic? Secondary play is the most important part of a defense these days, so Rhodes and Smith go right behind two guys who are largely influential in the offensive passing game. Barr is next because he has the ability to be an elite game-changer. Patterson after that because, as good as he can be as a field-stretcher, finding capable wide receivers and return men is not as daunting a task as restocking other positions. Floyd is last because as an interior lineman his contributions are less important, or at least less noticeable, in today’s game.

Your thoughts, please, in the comments.

TFD: The Vikings can't lose to a QB with this mustache, can they?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated October 14th at 5:11pm 279201511

Kyle Orton’s mustache is … man. Wow. That’s the starting quarterback for the Bills. This is a real test, Vikings.

NBA experiment with shorter games is both intriguing and weird

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated October 15th at 6:40am 279179231

Seemingly out of the blue — at least it wasn’t anywhere near our radar — the NBA announced it will test out a 44-minute game when the Celtics and Nets meet in the preseason Sunday.

Both head coaches sound like they’re on board, and the experiment in general comes on the heels of coaches telling the league they want to find ways to tighten up games.

On one hand, this is certainly intriguing. Any league willing to look at ways to improve pace of play is smart, and if the likelihood is that the bulk of the minutes in a shorter game would get taken away from the reserves, there wouldn’t seem to be much of a quality sacrifice.

On the other hand, we’ve never really thought NBA games were too long. Each team is afforded too many timeouts, so squeezing those would be a way to increase the pace, but most games clock in at 2 hours, 30 minutes or less — certainly reasonable. Playoff games take longer, but playoff games are awesome. Also, it’s strange to think of the impact on statistical comparisons between eras — akin to baseball, when it went from 154 games to 162.

Finally, 11 minutes seems downright weird. Either go all the way to 10 minutes — 40 minute games, same as the NCAA and international play — or leave it the way it is.

Sunday’s preseason game is merely an experiment and no changes are imminent. If you want to see what 11-minute quarters look like, the game is being shown on NBA TV. We bet it looks like a regular game, only shorter.

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Houston 23 FINAL
Pittsburgh 30
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Chicago 98 FINAL
Cleveland 107
New Orleans 88 FINAL
Washington 84
Milwaukee 120 FINAL
New York 107
Philadelphia 88 FINAL
Brooklyn 99
Charlotte 114 FINAL
Atlanta 117
Sacramento 99 FINAL
San Antonio 106
Memphis 103 FINAL
Dallas 108
Tampa Bay 2 FINAL
Edmonton 3
Arkansas State 7:00 PM
Louisiana
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Montreal 10/24/14 5:30 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 10/24/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg

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