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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Adrian Peterson's agent posts picture of himself by AP jersey, wearing Tampa Bay hat

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated April 21st at 3:14pm 300799711

This could be nothing. It could be something. When two sides have as much reported tension as do the Vikings and Adrian Peterson’s agent, Ben Dogra, everything is magnified.

So the fact that he chose to post a picture (below) of himself on Facebook on Monday, with the caption “Game on” means people are going to notice. Charles Robinson, who covers the NFL for Yahoo, sure noticed and tweeted it out:

Dogra also posted other pics of Peterson’s jersey on what appears to be a wide-open Facebook account.

I honestly have no idea what he’s doing, but the AP jersey/Bucs hat is a strange combination. It’s been a rough stretch for Dogra, who reportedly recently lost several high-profile clients.

Wild postgame: A 3-0 win, and some swagger along with it

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated April 21st at 9:25am 300740581

stanleycup2Midway through the second period of the Wild’s 3-0 victory over St. Louis on Monday, a transformation took place.

A building that was nervous … and a team that was tentative … suddenly united with the rarest of Minnesota displays: confidence.

Some might even call it swagger.

From the point Zach Parise found Jason Pominville for a tap-in goal to the final whistle, that’s what I saw on the ice at Xcel Energy Center. And as someone who wondered going into this game how the Wild and its fans would respond to the pressure of expectations … well, consider me impressed.

The Parise/Mikael Granlund/Pominville line was simply dominant, particularly in that second period. The first goal was set up by great stickhandling by Granlund before great vision by Parise and the easiest finish of Pominville’s life. The second goal was classic Parise, outworking a defensive player in the slot for a loose puck and banging it past goalie Jake Allen in one quick motion.

Still, after Granlund missed a bad-angle tap-in that would have iced the game in the third period, the veteran hockey minds around me concluded that it would be a nail-biter at the finish – that the Blues would score and threaten to tie.

These folks have seen a lot of Wild games. They’ve seen a lot of Minnesota sporting events. It’s a natural reaction. But again, there was that swagger.

The Wild closed it out with ease, never being threatened before adding the empty-netter that sealed the deal with 2 minutes left. Minnesota gave up just 17 shots all game. Vladimir Tarasenko, one game after notching a hat-trick, was a minus-3 and had zero shots.

If that wasn’t enough confidence for you, how about Jason Zucker, one of the smallest Wild players, mixing it up with every Blues player he could find – including one shift in the second when he and Alex Pietrangelo jabbed at each other for at least 20 seconds.

Or Matt Dumba, playing in his first playoffs, laughing at Blues chief goon Steve Ott for whiffing on a check near the Wild bench.

Or even the Wild fan on the giant scoreboard hoisting a faux Stanley Cup.

After the game, Wild coach Mike Yeo had the most #Minnesotan quote ever: “We have pretty decent confidence that we’ve been working a long time to get.”

This confidence … it’s so unfamiliar. Maybe we could all get used to it?

Wild pregame: Getting used to being in control

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated April 20th at 7:34pm 300723921

Even after losing Game 2 against St. Louis on Saturday, the Wild holds a position of playoff control against the Blues — a strange position for this franchise in the playoffs and for its fans (and Minnesota fans in general).

Every series the Wild managed to win in the past has come with an air of desperation. Even in the only other series in franchise history in which the Wild won Game 1 — 2003 against Colorado — things took a quick downward turn when Colorado won Games 2, 3 and 4.

Minnesota needed to rally from a 3-1 deficit in that series; it needed to do the same to win the following series against Vancouver. Last year, of course, the Wild trailed Colorado 3-2 before winning the final two games.

Three series victories, all finalized in Game 7s on the road.

So this business of being tied 1-1 after a road split … this is new. This is a best-of-5 series now, with three games in Minnesota. The Wild doesn’t have to win another road game, and it can still win the series.

The questions now become: Can the Wild handle it, and can you — dear fans — handle this?

It is different to play when you are the one with something to lose, and it is different to watch when there are expectations vs. hopes.

The Wild’s best work in the playoffs last year and during the regular season this year came during desperation. I’ll be curious to see how the team reacts in Game 3, and I’ll be similarly curious to see the tenor of fans in the stands and on social media.

Is everyone ready for this? We’re about to find out.

I’ll be live at the X, ready with some postgame thoughts on the blog right after the game ends. Expect postgame videos with myself and hockey guru Michael Russo, as well as the best interviews from the locker room, postgame as well.

An early look at Flip Saunders' NBA draft strategy

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated April 20th at 3:34pm 300693431

flipfansWolves President/head coach Flip Saunders met with the media for 30 minutes on Monday to help tie up loose ends on a season that didn’t go as planned for Minnesota — until it did.

Saunders used his opening statement to talk at length about how he thought the team had a good mix of veterans and young players at the start of the year — a group he hoped would compete for a playoff spot — before injuries derailed the season. At that point, he and the Wolves had a decision: keep playing some of the non-injured veterans or go with a wholesale development movement.

The Wolves obviously chose the latter and won just 16 games while also developing Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine (and securing a pick guaranteed to be no worse than No. 4 in this year’s draft).

“I felt we accomplished what we set out to do,” Saunders said when talking about the franchise’s revised strategy.

If the rebuild is to mean anything, though, this year’s draft is crucial. Whether you think the Wolves were tanking or merely just that bad with all the injuries this year, the end result is a high draft pick. Here is what Saunders had to say when I asked him about how he and the Wolves will approach things as the May 19 lottery and June draft draw nearer:

“We’ll go through both individually and as a staff and see a lot of players, watch a lot of film. A lot of it has to do with what background checks you have on players — and communications with them when we sit down and talk to them. … It’s a daily process you go through evaluating, and it can change.

I believe this: I believe when you draft in the top four or five, I believe you’re going to get a good player. This is a pretty deep draft, and it’s a pretty top-heavy draft really compared maybe to some of these past years. What you have to do at that point is take the best player available and not be as concerned with what position he (plays). Usually teams that have made major mistakes in this league have drafted for position high rather than drafting who the best player was. … I’ve always had an order in my head.”

That’s nothing revolutionary, of course, but in a draft in which so many people seem focused on big men Karl-Anthony Towns and Jahlil Okafor as the possible top two picks, Saunders said on multiple occasions that he believes the Wolves will do well regardless of where they wind up picking (anywhere from No. 1 to 4).

“Whoever we draft will be a piece (next year),” Saunders said. “The draft is that good.”

Maybe he has to say that now, but it’s also worth noting that Flip has done a pretty good job so far in evaluating draft talent. Gorgui Dieng, Shabazz Muhammad and Zach LaVine are his first-round picks, and all of them seem to be rotation players at worst. Andrew Wiggins, acquired for Kevin Love, could be a superstar.

Still, I have to imagine that deep down, knowing the injury history of Nikola Pekovic, Saunders has to be hoping to have a chance to draft one of those big men.

Monday (Tim Tebow added to Eagles' collection) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated April 20th at 12:28pm 300666461

tebowInstead of spending money on one good pair of headphones, I have four or five pairs of headphones lying around in various stages of repair. One of them is missing a right earbud. Two of the pairs are the old iPhone model that never seems to stick in your ear right without hurting, particularly if you sweat (which happens to people when the exercise). I just bought two new pairs on Amazon for like $8 each, and I’m sure that within a couple of months something will be wrong with them. I’ll put them through the wash. I’ll lose them. One of the sides will sound worse than the other.

I don’t know why I do this, but it does help me perhaps gain some keen insight into the mindset of Eagles coach/personnel guru/football genius(?) Chip Kelly. He is not a mediocre headphone collector (at least to my knowledge), but he is a mediocre quarterback collector. He already had Sam Bradford (been through the wash), Mark Sanchez (earbud missing) and Matt Barkley (on the cheap). But he just couldn’t himself. Now he’s added Tim Tebow (no stars on Amazon review) to the mix as well.

What could go wrong? Well, here’s what ESPN Stats/Info says:

Tebow would join Mark Sanchez and Sam Bradford among the team’s signal-callers. The three each rank in the bottom five in Total QBR among those who started at least 30 games over the last five seasons. Tebow ranks lowest with a 33.4 Total QBR. Sanchez is fourth-worst (40.4) and Bradford ranks fifth from the bottom (40.7).

Tebow’s completion percentage (48 percent) ranks the lowest in the NFL over the last 10 seasons. All three quarterbacks tend to overthrow or underthrow their passes quite a bit.

Perfect. Kelly had a perfectly nice quarterback in Nick Foles. I have no idea why he would blow that up in favor of having four quarterbacks of questionable repute. Deadspin has some working theories — some humorous, some logical — for signing Tebow, but it doesn’t explain the big-picture of just what Kelly is doing.

Maybe this is some grand experiment that those of us who never played the game (copyright) just wouldn’t understand. Maybe he knows how to play to each of their strengths and turn them all into monsters in his system in various situations.

Or maybe he’s just like me, figuring if you have a bunch of faulty options lying around, what’s the harm in adding one more?

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Cleveland - LP: T. House 1 FINAL
Detroit - WP: A. Simon 4
Chicago Cubs 0 Delayed
Cincinnati 0
Kansas City 0 Postponed
Chicago WSox 0
Houston 4 Top 5th Inning
Oakland 0
NY Mets 5 Bottom 4th Inning
NY Yankees 1
Washington 0 Bottom 4th Inning
Miami 2
Toronto - D. Norris 5:10 PM
Tampa Bay - E. Ramirez
Atlanta - S. Miller 6:05 PM
Philadelphia - D. Buchanan
Boston - J. Masterson 6:05 PM
Baltimore - W. Chen
St. Louis - A. Wainwright 6:10 PM
Milwaukee - W. Peralta
Pittsburgh - A. Burnett 7:10 PM
Arizona - R. De La Rosa
San Francisco - T. Hudson 7:10 PM
Colorado - J. De La Rosa
Los Angeles - B. McCarthy 7:40 PM
San Diego - I. Kennedy
Texas - C. Lewis 8:05 PM
LA Angels - C. Wilson
Minnesota - T. May 8:10 PM
Seattle - J. Paxton
Atlanta 66 4th Qtr 6:47
Brooklyn 76
Chicago 4:30 PM
Milwaukee
Golden State 7:00 PM
New Orleans
Memphis 9:30 PM
Portland
Washington 1 3rd Prd
NY Islanders 1
Detroit 5:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Nashville 7:00 PM
Chicago
Vancouver 8:00 PM
Calgary
Philadelphia 6:30 PM
Columbus
Real Salt Lake 6:30 PM
New England
Sporting Kansas City 7:30 PM
Houston
D.C. 9:30 PM
Vancouver FC

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