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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Wednesday (The Wolves long-term with Love and without Love) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated August 27th at 11:52am 272874281

wolvesphotoThe 1996-97 Timberwolves, with a young Kevin Garnett and Stephon Marbury, won 40 games. Back then, the West was the NBA’s lesser conference (four teams in the Wolves’ division won 24 games or fewer), and that 40-42 record was enough to get the Wolves the No. 6 seed in the playoffs. It felt like the start of something big, and even though Marbury blew up the dynamic duo, it was the beginning of eight consecutive playoff appearances.

The 2013-14 Timberwolves, with Kevin Love and a cast of others, won 40 games. These days, the West is the NBA’s dominant conference (the Suns, at 48-34, couldn’t even get into the playoffs), and the Wolves missed the postseason by a long shot. It felt like the beginning of the end of a rebuilding project that never got off the ground, and it signaled the end of the Love Era in Minnesota.

We bring up the past not as a way to pick at old scabs but rather as a way to frame the Love Era. In a different league, the Wolves might have been an up-and-comer. Instead, they traded love and started over. In the big picture, though, we do wonder: Are they better off, regardless?

In the short-term, Minnesota goes from being a 40-win team to what will probably be a 28-to-30-win team. As constructed a year ago, and without much prospect for injecting new talent beyond trading Love, the Wolves’ ceiling with Love as their core player was probably what it was during KG’s time before Sam Cassell and Latrell Sprewell: 45-50 wins and a quick playoff exit.

That sounds pretty good when compared to what has happened the last decade, but it’s not the goal when constructing a team. The goal, of course, is to win a championship. The 2014-15 Wolves are further from that goal than the 2013-14 Wolves were. But, say, the 2016-17 Wolves with Love or with the current core?

An argument could be made that a core led by Wiggins and co. has a better chance to be special than a core with Love.

Maybe that’s crazy talk and wishful thinking. Or maybe the second-best player in franchise history forcing his way out will end up being one of the best things that ever happened to the Wolves.

Wolves fans have forgotten about Kevin Love already

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated August 26th at 3:22pm 272766971

kevinloveBefore we headed out to the State Fair for the introduction of Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and Thaddeus Young (as well as the re-introduction of first-round pick Zach LaVine), we posed a question on Twitter:

Minnesota sports fans: Will you root for Kevin Love in Cleveland, against him, or be indifferent?

Your responses were pretty interesting, to say the least, and very diverse.

That said, there was also a fan out at the Fair who seems to have moved on more quickly than others. Hat tip to Wolves Chief Marketing Officer Ted Johnson for that photo you see.

Tuesday (Twins No. 6 in MLB in runs scored) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated August 26th at 9:55am 272716451

santanaThe Twins’ offensive surge in August has placed them into elite territory. They are now No. 6 in the majors — not the AL, not among bad teams, but out of all 30 teams — in runs scored with 570. They are scoring nearly 4.4 per game, which in many cases should be enough to be a pretty decent team. They’ve scored them in binges and droughts, but it adds up to an impressive number.

We’re as stunned as you are. They’re also No. 7 in MLB in on-base percentage and tied for seventh in MLB in extra-base hits.

These numbers suggest an offensive improvement that, while perhaps not sustainable (are Danny Santana and Kennys Vargas really going to keep up their torrid paces?), does at least provide promise for the future.

But just as much, they add a layer of frustration to a season in which pitching was supposed to be much-improved and the offense was going to be the major question mark. Remember, the big offseason bats added from outside the organization were Kurt Suzuki, Jason Kubel and Jason Bartlett. Suzuki has worked out wonderfully. The other two failed spectacularly. And the bulk of offseason spending went into the rotation, with Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes plus the re-signing of Mike Pelfrey.

Hughes has been wonderful. Nolasco and Pelfrey have been dreadful. Add it up, and Twins’ starters have a 5.05 ERA — 28th in the majors, in line with where they have lagged ever since their great decline started in 2011. Their bullpen ERA of 3.47 is 15th in MLB — perfectly acceptable in the middle of the road.

So if you’re looking for a major pleasant surprise this season, look at an offense we expected to be terrible that is somehow near the top of baseball in the most important category. And if you’re looking for the culprit in another lost season, look no further (again) than starting pitching.

TFD: Allison Stokke, other Olympic hopefuls, pole vaulting on Brit's Pub rooftop Saturday

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated August 26th at 6:41am 272621601

We’re not sure exactly how this is going to work — we expect to sort that all out as the week goes on — but we do know this: There is going to be pole vaulting on the rooftop of Brit’s Pub in downtown Minneapolis on Saturday.

There are many divisions throughout the day, leading up to a professional competition at night with several Olympic hopefuls competing — including Allison Stokke, who caused somewhat of an Internet stir seven years back.

It’s free. It’s pole vaulting on a roof. There will be beer. You could do worse on a Saturday night.

The Packers are one of the five least-desirable franchises to play for, NFL players say

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated August 26th at 6:46am 272612251

An alarming proportion of NFL players don’t want to play for the Packers, according to an anonymous survey via ESPN.com:

The Raiders are the least desirable team to play for in the NFL, according to an NFL Nation Confidential survey posed to 100-plus players on the following question:

“The only way I’d play for [team name] is if they doubled my salary.”

Of the 82 players who answered, 23 percent named the Raiders, followed by the Buffalo Bills (19 percent), Cleveland Browns (16 percent), Jacksonville Jaguars (9 percent) and Green Bay Packers (6 percent).

So you have the messed up Raiders, then three teams who have never won a Super Bowl and also play in unattractive markets … and then Titletown USA. What is this madness? What player wouldn’t want to live and play in Green Bay, where he could gaze at those Super Bowl trophies Packers fans love to talk about?

Our guess is it has something to do with the weather and the social scene in Green Bay, though maybe some players just don’t want to be part of Team Ted.

In any event, we are keenly aware this is a VERY small sample size and that six percent amounts to five players out of the 82 players who responded, which in itself is a small portion of all league players.

But if you think we are going to pass up a post the power of small sample sizes and thin-skinned fans, you are mistaken. After all, you don’t see the Vikings on that list, small sample size or not.

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NY Mets 4 Bottom 5th Inning
Miami 5
Philadelphia 2 Top 7th Inning
Atlanta 0
Boston 2 Bottom 6th Inning
Tampa Bay 3
Minnesota 3 Bottom 6th Inning
Baltimore 0
Pittsburgh 3 Top 3rd Inning
St. Louis 0
Milwaukee 0 Bottom 3rd Inning
Chicago Cubs 1
Detroit - D. Price 3:05 PM
Cleveland - C. Kluber
Seattle - C. Young 3:05 PM
Oakland - J. Hammel
San Francisco 2 Suspended
Colorado 2
Arizona - T. Cahill 3:10 PM
San Diego - T. Ross
San Francisco - T. Hudson 4:40 PM
Colorado - F. Morales
Washington - G. Gonzalez 7:10 PM
Los Angeles - R. Hernandez
Texas - C. Lewis 7:10 PM
Kansas City - Y. Ventura
Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
Seattle
Buffalo 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
New Orleans 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Atlanta
Minnesota 9/7/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Cleveland 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Jacksonville 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Oakland 9/7/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
Cincinnati 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Washington 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Tennessee 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
New England 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Carolina 9/7/14 3:25 PM
Tampa Bay
San Francisco 9/7/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Indianapolis 9/7/14 7:30 PM
Denver
Utah State 7 FINAL
Tennessee 38
SMU 0 FINAL
(10) Baylor 45
Miami-Florida 7:00 PM
Louisville
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
SMU 9/6/14 11:00 AM
North Texas
Fla Atlantic 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(2) Alabama
Buffalo 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Army
(24) Missouri 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Toledo
Arkansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
(7) McNeese State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(22) Nebraska
Central Mich 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Akron 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Western Ill 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(14) Wisconsin
(20) Kansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
(4) Oklahoma 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tulsa
Western Ky 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
SC State 9/6/14 11:30 AM
(16) Clemson
Navy 9/6/14 12:00 PM
Temple
UAB 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Miss State
South Alabama 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Kent State
New Mexico St 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Colorado 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Fresno State 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Utah
(2) Eastern Wash 9/6/14 2:00 PM
(25) Washington
(15) USC 9/6/14 2:30 PM
(11) Stanford
Ohio U 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Middle Tennessee 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Minnesota
Northern Ill 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Missouri State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Ball State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Iowa
Maryland 9/6/14 2:30 PM
So Florida
Eastern Mich 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Florida
Georgia Tech 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Tulane
(18) Ole Miss 9/6/14 3:30 PM
Vanderbilt
Old Dominion 9/6/14 5:00 PM
NC State
(8) Michigan State 9/6/14 5:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(19) Arizona State 9/6/14 6:00 PM
New Mexico
Louisiana Tech 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
San Jose St 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(6) Auburn
East Carolina 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Duke 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Troy
Idaho 9/6/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(15) Sam Houston St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(13) LSU
Michigan 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
Lamar 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(21) Texas A&M
Northwestern St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
BYU 9/6/14 6:30 PM
Texas
Citadel 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(1) Florida State
San Diego St 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Virginia Tech 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(5) Ohio State
Memphis 9/6/14 9:00 PM
(7) UCLA
Colorado State 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Boise State
Air Force 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Wyoming
Oregon State 9/6/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Texas Tech 9/6/14 10:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Ottawa 10 FINAL
Montreal 20
Winnipeg 30 FINAL
Saskatchewan 35
Toronto 12 9:46
Hamilton 13
Edmonton 3:30 PM
Calgary
Indiana 3:00 PM
Chicago

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