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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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.

TFD: The smartest take on Adrian Peterson, NFL naturally comes from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated September 25th at 5:17pm 277142371

Former NBA great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar — yes, that’s right — has written what we consider one of the most cogent pieces on the NFL and Adrian Peterson we have read. It appears on Time’s web site, and here is a snip:

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson hit his four-year-old son with a thin part of a branch and was indicted for reckless or negligent injury. This has sparked a national debate on the effectiveness and ethics of spanking. Worse, thanks to commentators like Charles Barkley, the debate has degenerated into a race issue. “I’m from the South,” Barkley explained on TV. “Whipping—we do that all the time. Every black parent in the South is going to be in jail under those circumstances.”

The five most destructive words to our village are “That’s how I was raised.”

These words are the triumph of routine over reason, of self-delusion over self-interest, of excuses over evidence. In short, the phrase embodies the kind of muddled thinking that our culture “officially” stands against because doing something just because “that’s how I was raised” is the definition of hive mentality. It’s celebrating the joys of brainwashing over rational decision-making.

Most people embrace these words with great pride when it reflects their core values of being hard working, compassionate, patriotic, religious, or family-oriented. But they condemn anyone else who uses them when it goes against accepted American tradition.

Kareem just dunked on all of us. Great stuff.

A rainout in Jeter's final home game would be comeuppance for New York's weather haughtiness

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated September 25th at 3:55pm 277113441

yankeestadium

New York is in a lather because heavy rain is in the forecast Thursday night for what is supposed to be Derek Jeter’s final game at Yankee Stadium.

On a personal level, we love the idea of some rain in the Big Apple falling on Jeter, as it would be a welcome moisture change from the tongue bath he has been getting even as a very good career ends with an awful season (unless a .611 OPS and league-worst range for a shortstop inspire a different definition from you).

On a grander level, though, the thought of a rainout at Yankee Stadium brings to mind a different kind of schadenfreude: a lovely comeuppance for those haughty East Coasters who act like it’s a felony that Minnesota doesn’t have a roof on Target Field (you heard from them during the All-Star festivities, when it dared to rain here and delay the HR Derby by an hour) while never once mentioning that Yankee Stadium is a much better candidate for one.

But it’s true: A fellow by the name of James Santelli ran the numbers a couple of years ago, compiling stats on the average amount of rain in every MLB city between April and September.

The impetus, it seems, was to prove that Seattle didn’t really need a roof — and he was right: that city actually gets the seventh-least amount of rain during the baseball season, more than only Arizona and the five California teams.

But the real delicious number in there, to us, is this: 26.41. That’s the average rainfall in New York from April to September. Only three other cities have more — Miami, Tampa and Kansas City, two of which have roofs. Minnesota is around the middle at 13th, with nearly five fewer inches of rain per baseball season (21.66) — slightly less than Baltimore and Philadelphia, slightly more than Washington DC and Boston, none of which, along with NYC, are ever lamented for their lack of a baseball enclosure.

If your chief argument is that Minnesota should have a roof because it’s too cold to play in April and September, or should the mood ever strike again, October … well, that’s just not true. The average high here, even as late as Oct. 23, is 55 — same as it is on April 9, around the time the Twins typically have their home opener.

If a place is going to have a roof, it’s usually about extreme heat (like Arizona) or rain. Maybe New York should have thought about that — or at least thought harder about it — before building a roof-free Yankee Stadium or at least before criticizing others for failing to do so.

Thursday (Gardenhire, the Twins and reasons for change) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated September 25th at 9:20am 277070311

gardyTwo of the most damaging things we can do in our lives are essentially polar opposites: Staying the course in a situation that has become toxic (or even simply too comfortable) because we don’t have the means, energy or guts to change … or acting rashly and changing something merely for the sake of changing it, only to regret the impulsive move and the better life we left behind.

When it comes to the Twins, and you cut through the raw emotion of losing 90 games in four consecutive seasons and simply examine the facts, you are essentially left with a decision on manager Ron Gardenhire that speaks to the nature of change. Careful reflection might not be popular with the ALL-CAPS crowd, but it is the right course when making a major decision like this.

We know that, when given capable players, Gardenhire is a very good regular-season manager. Even if he benefited from a weak AL Central at times, six division titles in nine years is an admirable accomplishment for anyone. His teams failed in the playoffs (the Twins are 2-19 in their last 21 postseason games under Gardenhire), and this four-year nosedive has been on his watch, but we cannot forget there are positive things on his side of the ledger, too.

The questions the Twins’ management should be asking itself in the next handful of days are these: would firing Gardenhire simply be change for the sake of change … and is there a greater danger in remaining on a comfortable, familiar course?

There are those that would argue sometimes “change for the sake of change” is reason enough to make a move. Maybe. Sometimes. You could look at attendance at Twins games this September, and the general apathy that is firmly entrenched among a growing number of fans and conclude that, if you were merely crowdsourcing this move, the best thing would just be to dump Gardy and start over.

The counter to that is that the Twins might actually be on the verge of giving the man enough talent to compete again, and when that has happened in the past the results have generally been good (the postseason notwithstanding, which we acknowledge is no small thing and could, in fact, be an even more damning bit of evidence against Gardenhire staying than four consecutive 90-loss seasons with an incomplete roster).

There are those, too, who would argue that there is a beauty in patience and that being comfortable in a job isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Maybe. Sometimes. But patience can bleed into complacency, and complacency can foster an attitude that makes losing acceptable.

If the Twins are going to make a move on Gardenhire, the reasoning and explanation needs to be more solid than “we just felt it was time for a change.” But if they are going to keep him, it better be because they feel like he’s the best man for the job and not because they don’t have the courage to move on.

There are certainly reasons beyond “change for the sake of change” to let him go, but there is also a not-too-distant past to consider when wondering if it would be a decision the Twins ultimately regret.

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