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: 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.

Tuesday (Preparing for more of the same from Twins in 2015) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated October 14th at 12:13pm 279145151

ryanhughesIt’s not hard to listen to comments from Terry Ryan and Dave St. Peter in two different venues — a recent conference call with season ticket holders, and again in interviews with the Star Tribune’s Phil Miller — and reach this conclusion: 2015 will be more of the same from the Twins, by design.

Or, in perhaps more flattering terms: the Twins are going to hope that 2015 is the kind of year they had hoped 2014 would be, and they are a year behind schedule in their rebuild because of injuries to key minor league players and the underperformance of players on the major league club.

How else would one react to quotes from Ryan such as these?

“I don’t want to punt on 2015, but it’s still going to be a struggle.”

And:

“Sometimes you make decisions that ultimately are going to benefit you down the line that don’t look exactly like what you want right now.”

The Twins have decided they aren’t going to budge much on payroll from 2014 to 2015, meaning it again will be around $85 million and that almost all of it is already tied up in existing players. We don’t necessarily think this is a bad idea, but let’s be clear: this is a choice, and an artificial spending cap. If the Twins wanted to spend more, they certainly could (remember, 2014 was the start of a major bump in national TV revenue for all MLB clubs).

Ryan is right when he says spending foolishly could set the club back even further (at least if they guessed wrong on big-ticket, long-term deals). He is also right when he notes that teams can be competitive with payrolls comparable to what the Twins project to have next season.

But what it adds up to is a season of hoping, not realistically expecting, that things will not devolve into a fifth consecutive 90-loss season. There were good signs last season, particularly with young hitters and Phil Hughes, but without the influx of more established players via free agency, Minnesota will be banking on two guys who will make up between 40-45 percent of the payroll combined (Joe Mauer and Ricky Nolasco) to live up to their contracts and for other young players to make meaningful contributions (while the ones who made strides this year avoid a step back, which is easier said than done).

Before Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano and others essentially lost the 2014 season, we imagine the Twins’ blueprint was something like this: ride improved pitching and young hitting to a .500 record in 2014, get onto the fringe of contention in 2015 and then really make a run in 2016 and beyond. Now we have to imagine .500 is the goal next year, and we can clearly see the Twins don’t intend to try to spend their way to a few more victories.

It’s not right or wrong, but it is the choice they have made.

TFD: Announcer who called Sunday's Vikings game battled with angry fans on Twitter

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated October 14th at 11:36am 279057381

jenningsMike Goldberg, who normally calls UFC events for Fox (and previously did Wild games), made his NFL debut Sunday for the Vikings/Lions game.

It did not go well.  At all. Like, we really mean it.

Goldberg butchered plenty of plays, at one point confusing Golden Tate and Greg Jennings (who are both wide receivers and who both wear No. 15, but do not happen to play for the same team).

Fans took him to task on Twitter — many of them not as politely as the ones we highlighted above. Instead of turning the other cheek, Goldberg unloaded on them in a series of (since-deleted) tweets that included high volumes of profanity, as noted by Pro Football Talk.

The real fun, though? Goldberg is slated to again be the lead guy when the Vikings play the Bills on Sunday. We look forward to many TD passes from Kyle Orton to Cordarrelle Patterson.

Monday (Can the Gophers contend in the Big Ten?) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated October 13th at 12:19pm 279013651

myrickMy, how the narrative has changed (again) with the Gophers.

Last year, so much of the focus was on Jerry Kill’s health … until the team ripped off a four-game Big Ten winning streak for the first time in 40 years, answering many questions about the coaching staff’s ability to work through any road blocks in its path.

This year, after the Gophers looked overmatched against TCU and completed just one pass against San Jose State, the talk shifted to an offense that looked either one-dimensional or just plain bad depending on your preference.

But consecutive victories over Michigan and Northwestern have re-established this team’s identity: very good on defense, sound in the running game and — this is key — able to throw enough to win. Mix in some solid special teams and the ability to hold a lead after halftime, and the Gophers have the makings of a team that can compete in any conference game this season.

That, of course, raises an interesting question: Are they good enough to not just join the discussion, win 4 or 5 conference games and go to a decent bowl game … but instead legitimately compete for a Big Ten title?

The schedule certainly breaks that way and allows one to dream a little. Without putting wins in the bank, you look at the next two (home against Purdue and at Illinois) and think it is very possible the Gophers will be 4-0 heading into a huge home game against Iowa (which also could be 4-0 in conference play at the time).

Winning the Big Ten West will almost certainly necessitate winning that Iowa game, too, since the closing stretch — home against Ohio State, then at Nebraska and at Wisconsin — are three major tests. But even if the Gophers went 1-2 with that closing group, they could at least find themselves in a tie for the West title. Win 2 of 3, and they would very likely win it.

That’s a long way to go, and it assumes a lot of wins that will require a lot of effort. But it’s not crazy to think about — nor is, perhaps, sweeping the three big trophy games (Michigan, Iowa and Wisconsin).

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Minnesota 16 FINAL
Buffalo 17
Atlanta 7 FINAL
Baltimore 29
Tennessee 17 FINAL
Washington 19
Seattle 26 FINAL
St. Louis 28
Cleveland 6 FINAL
Jacksonville 24
Cincinnati 0 FINAL
Indianapolis 27
Miami 27 FINAL
Chicago 14
New Orleans 23 FINAL
Detroit 24
Carolina 17 FINAL
Green Bay 38
Kansas City 23 FINAL
San Diego 20
Arizona 24 FINAL
Oakland 13
NY Giants 21 FINAL
Dallas 31
San Francisco 17 FINAL
Denver 42
Houston 10/20/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Boston 95 FINAL
Brooklyn 90
Minnesota 112 FINAL
Oklahoma City 94
Golden State 83 FINAL
Houston 90
Charlotte 96 FINAL
Chicago 101
Utah 91 FINAL
LA Lakers 98
Minnesota 1 FINAL
Los Angeles 2
San Jose 0 FINAL
NY Rangers 4
Calgary 4 FINAL
Winnipeg 1
St. Louis 0 FINAL
Anaheim 3
TX-San Antonio 20 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 27
Syracuse 30 FINAL
Wake Forest 7
Purdue 38 FINAL
Minnesota 39
Western Ky 38 FINAL
Fla Atlantic 45
(12) Baylor 27 FINAL
(22) West Virginia 41
(11) Kansas State 31 FINAL
(17) Oklahoma 30
Iowa 31 FINAL
Maryland 38
So Florida 38 FINAL
Tulsa 30
Tulane 13 FINAL
UCF 20
Virginia 13 FINAL
Duke 20
Akron 20 FINAL
Ohio U 23
Western Mich 26 FINAL
Bowling Green 14
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
Massachusetts 36
Appalachian St 53 FINAL
Troy 14
(25) UCLA 36 FINAL
California 34
Texas A&M 0 FINAL
(4) Alabama 59
Army 17 FINAL
Kent State 39
Kansas 21 FINAL
Texas Tech 34
UAB 22 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 34
Rutgers 17 FINAL
(13) Ohio State 56
(8) Michigan State 56 FINAL
Indiana 17
New Mexico 31 FINAL
Air Force 35
NC State 18 FINAL
Louisville 30
(21) Clemson 17 FINAL
Boston College 13
Ball State 32 FINAL
Central Mich 29
Cincinnati 41 FINAL
SMU 3
(9) Georgia 45 FINAL
Arkansas 32
Oklahoma State 9 FINAL
(10) TCU 42
San Jose St 27 FINAL
Wyoming 20
Miami-Ohio 41 FINAL
Northern Ill 51
New Mexico St 17 FINAL
Idaho 29
Colorado 28 FINAL
(20) USC 56
(23) Marshall 45 FINAL
FIU 13
Southern Miss 30 FINAL
North Texas 20
Georgia Tech 43 FINAL
North Carolina 48
Tennessee 3 FINAL
(3) Ole Miss 34
Utah State 13 FINAL
Colorado State 16
Missouri 42 FINAL
Florida 13
Kentucky 3 FINAL
(24) LSU 41
(16) Nebraska 38 FINAL
Northwestern 17
Georgia State 27 FINAL
South Alabama 30
Washington 20 FINAL
(6) Oregon 45
Iowa State 45 FINAL
Texas 48
(7) Notre Dame 27 FINAL
(2) Florida State 31
Nevada 42 FINAL
BYU 35
Stanford 10 FINAL
(14) Arizona State 26
Hawaii 10 FINAL
San Diego St 20
Arkansas State 10/21/14 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
Columbus 3 FINAL
Red Bull New York 1
Seattle 2 FINAL
Los Angeles 2
Ottawa 6 FINAL
Hamilton 16
Montreal 20 FINAL
Toronto 12
Calgary 33 FINAL
Winnipeg 23
Edmonton 24 FINAL
Saskatchewan 19

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