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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TFD: Kevin Love is long gone and Adrian Peterson doesn't want to be here?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated March 23rd at 7:55pm 297296201

For those of you who like all your rumors in one place, this post has you covered. And for those of you who accuse me of shameless headlines/items aimed at page views, I should note I could have EASILY put these items into two separate posts. But I didn’t (mostly because I needed to give that hard-hitting Adrian Peterson/camel post some time to breathe).

zimmerpetersonItem 1: Jason La Canfora at CBS Sports has a story under a pretty juicy headline: “Peterson wants out from Vikes badly, but how much is he willing to lose?”

The actual meat of the story isn’t nearly as compelling, but it does have some choice bits:

Make no mistake, Peterson’s representatives have made it very clear to the Vikings that he has no interest in playing another game for them. … From everything I have gathered about how badly Peterson wants out, short of the Vikings throwing a ton more money at him — you know, the way sore feelings are often assuaged in pro sports — he won’t make it easy on them and his resolve will be strong and it’ll be an uncomfortable OTA and preseason around Minnesota.

La Canfora is writing pretty strongly here about just how bad the relationship is between Peterson and the Vikings. It would be absurd for the Vikings to give him a raise, so we could very well be headed toward a showdown.

loveItem 2: Kevin Love wasn’t included in LeBron James’ Instagram photo of teammates who are part of his “clique.” Love was asked about it and said, with honesty, that the two are not “best friends.

Part of me thinks this is no big deal, but when you factor in all the other little strains in the Love/LeBron/Cavs relationship this year, it starts to add up.

In modern sports — and in the NBA in particular — relationships are currency. Free agents are lured to cities and lifestyles, but just as often now they are drawn to a chance to win and to cultures that allow them to thrive. There’s ever indication that LeBron hand-picked Love to be part of a team he thought could win a championship, convincing Cleveland to part with Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett to get him. LeBron excluding Love from the picture, along with Love’s words, could mean that not only aren’t they friends but that their working relationship is strained.

Here's a picture of Adrian Peterson riding a camel at his 30th birthday party

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated March 23rd at 1:22pm 297254991

At my 30th birthday, I ate a ton of chicken wings. It was awesome. At my wife’s 30th birthday, we rented out the 7th Street Entry and did karaoke with about 100 friends on the stage. That was even more awesome.

But Adrian Peterson? He rode a camel. Can’t decide if it’s awesome or not, but it’s … something?

Monday (Twins batting order problems are nice to have) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated March 24th at 8:40am 297247451

oswaldoAs bad as the Twins’ starting pitching has been the past four years, sinking the team’s fortunes every season, let’s not forget that for much of the 90-loss season misery, the offense has been almost as bad.

The 2011 Twins ranked 25th in the majors in runs scored, as did the 2013 Twins. The 2012 squad was closer to middle-of-the-pack (16th), but it was still nothing special. Last year was a big surprise, as an offense that figured to struggle again took a big step forward and ended up finishing 7th in MLB in runs.

For long stretches of 2011-14, the yearly questions about the lineup, which evolved into daily questions, involved major holes. Who would bat leadoff? If Joe Mauer struggled, was there a No. 3 hitter anywhere to be found? When everyone bats one or two spots higher than they should — if they belong at all — a team will struggle.

The questions this year are, in a word, different. New manager Paul Molitor, while smartly noting that last year’s sample size is small (particularly with Danny Santana and Kennys Vargas, two young hitters who led the charge in the second half last year), has more good options than the Twins have had in five years.

Between Santana, Brian Dozier, Mauer, Vargas, Torii Hunter, Trevor Plouffe, Oswaldo Arcia and Kurt Suzuki, there are a lot of ways to assemble the 1-8 spots in the order and have them not only make sense but appear dangerous. It’s part of the reason the Twins can survive with Aaron Hicks in center, at least until Byron Buxton arrives. If Hicks hits .230 and gets on base in the No. 9 spot, that should be plenty based  on this lineup and what he brings on defense.

That’s not to say that everyone in the lineup will produce. But for now, it looks like Molitor can fill out a card based on matchups and his philosophy … instead of mere desperation.

Nuclear Wessel: Your March Madness (EPL) guide

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated March 20th at 9:00pm 297095201

nuclearDana Wessel works at Go963 FM in Minneapolis and formerly worked at Enterprise Rent-A-Car under their excellent corporate structure where *they* gave *him* the tools to be his own boss.

Welcome back to another edition of Nuclear Wessel!

Plenty of soccer to supplement your March Madness viewing this weekend. It may be the first weekend of spring, but it is going to be cold. Might be your last great chance to not feel bad for logging serious hours on the couch while watching men in much better shape than you compete while you have buffalo sauce all over your shirt! America!

The season is over two months from this weekend. If this was a Rocky movie, the fighters would be entering the arena now for the final fight.

No. 1: Newcastle vs Arsenal at St James Park

When: Saturday at 10:00AM on NBC Sports Network

Last year: Arsenal beat Newcastle at St James Park last year in a rather non-descript match. Olivier Giroud had the match’s only goal in the 55th minute to secure all three for the Gunners.

Just like that, Arsenal are just a point away from City for second place! How did this happen? Have Arsenal been that good or have City been that bad? A combo platter, for sure. But Arsenal must be given credit. A few more results go their way and against Chelsea and they could be in the title picture. What is happening?

Congrats to Arsenal on winning a trophy this week. For the fifth straight year they won their ‘We Made it to the Round of 16 of Champions League and were Knocked Out But We Battled Hard and Everybody Wrote Nice Things About How Hard We Battled So We Are Happy’ trophy. Nice!

Arsenal complained about the away goals rule (give up fewer!) and feel bad about themselves over the tough draws they’ve gotten the last few years (win your group instead of finishing runner up) but all they have to blame is themselves.

But their continued European ineptitude just gives them more time to ensure they finish top four since they can continue the vicious cycle next year. It would take an epic collapse for them to finish worse than fourth. They will keep winning in the league — especially this week against a Newcastle team that’s packed it in — and hope that Chelsea drop enough points to give them a license to dream.

No. 2: Liverpool vs Manchester United at Anfield

When: Sunday at 8:30AM on NBC Sports Network

Last year: Daniel Sturridge scored the opening and only goal in this fixture last year in the 4th minute. Liverpool won 1-0.

Imagine saying this next sentence five years ago: Liverpool host Manchester United on Sunday and the winner will be have a leg-up on their rival for the fourth and final Champions League spot.

A sentence like that five years ago would have been considered science fiction. But it is 2015 and it’s a new world. And it is great! For some of us at least!

Given the date and number of matches remaining, it may be tempting to say screw it and do a cannonball into a pool full of hot take sauce about the significance of this match. Don’t get me wrong, this is match is massive. Enough ramifications to kill a man. But Liverpool still play at Arsenal (next week) and home to Chelsea. United still play City and Arsenal and at Chelsea. So there will still be plenty of points out there to drop and plenty more HUGE MATCHUPS to smother in hot take sauce.

But again, don’t let that harsh your mellow for this Sunday morning. You’re gonna wanna get up for this one. It is huge. The fact Liverpool are even in this position is nothing short of amazing. Just think if Brendan Rodgers is ever able to string together a full season? They could go level with Blackburn on number of Premier League titles won. Think about that!

Liverpool have been by far the class of the Premier League since January 1 but unfortunately for them the season started in August. They haven’t lost a league match this calendar year and their only draw came in a Merseyside derby. United are feeling pretty good about themselves after patting Spurs on the head last week and saying “time for the big boys to play for the top four. Enjoy Europa.”

Two teams who don’t like each other. Record books out the window. All of that. All of it. Brits Pub in Minneapolis will be opening up at 8:00AM for the 8:30 kick. You will wanna get there early for a prime spot. It will be packed.

No. 3: Hull City vs Chelsea at The KC Stadium

When: Sunday at 11:00AM on NBC Sports Network

Last year: 2-0 win for the Blues at Hull last January. Hazard opened the scoring before Fernando Torres scored his second-to-last Premier League goal for Chelsea to ice the match.

Chelsea head into this match against the No. 15 Hull City Tigers with a six-point lead at the top of the table and a match in-hand.

Sounds like a pretty great position to be in, huh? But from the way people have been talking about them this week you’d think they are facing relegation. Sure, they had a chance to go eight points clear of City this weekend had they gotten a full three points against Southampton. But guess what? Southampton is good! A draw against the sixth place Saints is not a bad thing! Heading into last weekend, with City playing at Burnley, it appeared, if anything, City would gain points on Chelsea. But they didn’t. Chelsea picked up another point on them. These are all good things for the Blues with less than 10 matches remaining in the league.

But people trying to knock Chelsea down a peg or two is nothing new or unexpected. They definitely had chances to win against Southampton. The look on John Terry’s face when he pushed that ball wide of the net in the 87th said it all. And getting knocked out of Champions League after a 2-2 draw at home against PSG was certainly unexpected. But draws at home against a top-8 team in Europe and a top-6 team in England are not bad results. Hardly a team in crisis.

That being said, if they get anything less than three points Sunday against Hull, you can print that last paragraph out, ball it up, stick it in a Roman Candle, dip it in gas and fire it through the sky.

Hull sit 15th in the league and their three-point lead over No. 18 Burnley means their noses are just barely above the relegation waters. They are coming off a pair of draws against fellow bottom-feeders Sunderland and Leicester City. They did manage a 1-1 draw at the Etihad against Manchester City in February but, given City’s recent form, that is a result that looks better on paper than it really is.

Chelsea need three on Sunday. Well, they need three from every match from now until May, but Sunday is especially important with back-to-back matches against Man United and at Arsenal looming in a month.

Alright, kids. Enjoy a big soccer Sunday. You can just log hours at a pub and avoid all the basketball madness. Liverpool/Man United — Hull City/Chelsea — Real Madrid/Barcelona — New York Red Bulls/D.C. United. Not a bad little Sunday.

TFD: Minneapolis needs to work on those UND logos

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated March 19th at 6:03pm 296941911

North Dakota used to play all the time in St. Paul back in the old days of the WCHA. Now UND’s hockey team is in Minneapolis this weekend for the NCHC Tournament.

We’re not sure where specifically this picture is from, but Minneapolis is still apparently adapting to the difference between UND and North Dakota State.

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