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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Thursday (Video of a terrible slash to the head in girls' hockey) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated August 7th at 10:10am 270330531

Here’s footage from Puck Daddy of one of the worst on-ice assaults we have ever seen — and it came in a U16 girls’ hockey game.

It happened in a game between a U.S. select team and a Russian team in Hungary. Basically it’s a two-handed slash to the head, and very fortunately the player who was clubbed is OK.

TFD: Beer, logos and heat -- your guide to TCF Bank Stadium, configured for the Vikings

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated August 7th at 6:56am 270233251


TCF Bank Stadium will be the joint home of the Gophers and Vikings for the next two seasons, and that time is arriving quickly. The Vikings have their first preseason game Friday, and on Wednesday afternoon we got a look at the field as it was being prepared for the Vikings as well as a chance to chat with Scott Ellison, the Gophers Associate AD in charge of facilities. Here are some of the takeaways:

*Beer. It’s on everyone’s mind. Vikings fans are known for their thirst, and TCF Bank Stadium will accommodate them as best it can. There will be beer sales throughout the stadium for Vikings games. For Gophers games, there will be fewer points of sale than for Vikings games, but still far more than there were last year (though not in the student section), when sales were concentrated in the end zone concourse now occupied by additional bleacher seats. Beer sales for both the Vikings and the Gophers will go through the third quarter; that’s a change from how it was with the Gophers last year, when they were done at the end of halftime.

*Those additional bleacher seats increased capacity by 1,720, Ellison said, bringing total capacity at the stadium to just over 52,000. Those seats will be sold for Gophers games, too. Before you make jokes about them not needing those seats, note that they have Iowa on the schedule in 2014, while Wisconsin, Michigan and Nebraska are here in 2015. Also, there remains the chance, despite generations of history to the contrary, that the Gophers will be legitimately good this season and be a hot ticket.

*The end zones and midfield were already painted and showing off Vikings colors/logos Wednesday, creating an interesting juxtaposition to an otherwise largely maroon and gold stadium. Ellison said there will be additional things done to the stadium to give it a Vikings feel on pro gamedays. The idea is to make it feel like their home stadium, not just a borrowed college stadium.

*Crews started working on installing new turf immediately after the Gophers’ spring game in order to put a heating element on the field. Ellison said that involves “38 miles of plastic tubing underneath the field” that circulates a solution to heat the field. The heating element and new turf was installed for $2.5 million, paid for by the Vikings, and will remain after the Vikings move into their new home in 2016.

*A big test will come this weekend since the Gophers have a scrimmage Saturday. Crews will scrub and re-paint the field in Gophers colors and with college hashmarks. They’ll have to do it with even more urgency on Oct. 11 and 12, when the Gophers play a home game against Northwestern followed by a Vikings home game against the Lions.

RandBall: Broadcaster Gladden criticizes Twins 'opposite-field' strategy

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated August 6th at 5:25pm 270192111

tkgladdenWe happened to have the Twins game on the radio as we drove home from an important event Tuesday night. It was the fourth inning of a fairly uneventful game against the Padres, with Cory Provus and Dan Gladden doing the call as per usual.

In the midst of describing the action, though, we were struck by some commentary from Gladden and quickly snagged a recording of it. Josh Willingham, Kennys Vargas and Oswaldo Arcia were the batters due up, and Gladden was describing a conversation he had pregame with Willingham about why so many of his home runs go to left field. Willingham, per Gladden, said it has to do with his top hand — that his swing style made him a pull hitter — and Gladden concluded that part by telling Willingham to keep doing what he is doing and not worry about going to right field. That led into this exchange between Gladden and Provus:

Provus: “I wonder for a young hitter coming up in today’s game, if they’re labeled as a dead pull hitter, if that’s a label they are eager to change as their careers kind of blossom?”

Gladden: “You know what, here’s one thing I hope can kind of get rooted or maybe even changed to an extent, and that is the philosophy of the Twins. … You’ve heard it: ‘You’ve got to hit the ball the other way.’ It’s almost like everybody who puts a Twins uniform on, they’re taught to go the other way. … A guy like Arcia right here, what are we hearing? ‘He’s trying to pull the ball. He’s trying to pull the ball. We need to have him go the other way.’ Arcia to me is a dead-red pull guy, so let’s teach him to pull the ball rather than try to teach him to go the other way and hit doubles and singles — which he can do, but that’s not his game. … We had Jim Thome here, kind of a one-dimensional, one-field type guy. David Ortiz, when we heard after he left, they told him to pull the ball and that’s what he’s done. I think the philosophy — you need to be able to evaluate the player. Vargas is a guy that should have opposite-field power.”

While we’ve certainly heard Twins radio broadcasters critique bad pitches or poor at bats, we couldn’t recall hearing such a strong commentary on a general philosophy. While it’s not particularly controversial — and to be honest, it’s refreshing — it did catch our attention.

But truth be told, we don’t listen to the Twins on the radio often — usually just if we have some errands to run at night, or if we happen to have a long drive within the region during a game.

In that regard, maybe folks who more regularly listen to the Twins on the radio can help us out: Was that in character with what Gladden might typically say, or did it branch into different territory?

Wednesday (Important final two months for these 5 Twins hitters) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated August 6th at 10:12am 270166211

parmeleeplouffeWe should learn a decent amount about the Twins over the final two months, even if they are not in contention. Watching players like Kennys Vargas, Danny Santana and (hopefully) Trevor May and Alex Meyer will at least make things somewhat interesting.

Those players are auditioning for the future, having given the Twins a small taste of what they can do either in the majors or at high levels in the minors. But these final two months of the season are not important for them in the same way they are important for these five players, who seem to be at critical junctures with the organization:

1) Trevor Plouffe: He’s basically been a slightly above league average hitter this year, with a .728 OPS (MLB average is .719 for third basemen) and 103 OPS+ (again, just above the generally accepted average of 100). He looks like a more polished hitter at the plate than in previous seasons, but his overall numbers — even the advanced ones — look pretty similar to 2012 and 2013. Is he an everyday player? Probably not on a good team. Is he a useful utility player and a good bat to start a few times a week and pinch hit? Quite possibly. By the end of the year, barring injury, he will have had about 2,000 MLB plate appearances. That’s enough for the Twins to decide what he is, and the impression he makes over the final 50 games will be the freshest sample size they see.

2) Chris Parmelee: Very similar to Plouffe this season with a 103 OPS+ and a .731 OPS. Just when we’re ready to give up on Parmelee, he shows signs of life. And as soon as we concede he could be a useful player, he goes in a funk. For his career, he actually hits righties and lefties about the same, a rarity for a left-handed batter. He has a decent glove at first base and isn’t completely lost in the outfield. But he’ll be closing in on 1,000 career PAs by season’s end. Does he have a role on a better team, particularly if Vargas sticks and Joe Mauer is healthy? Again, that’s a big question for the Twins and therefore a meaningful stretch coming up for Parmelee.

3) Eduardo Escobar: He’s been a pleasant surprise holding down shortstop since Pedro Florimon lost the job. But this is Danny Santana’s spot long-term, just as Santana is holding down Byron Buxton’s spot in center field. What Escobar has at least done this season is shown he could be a very useful utility infielder and spot-starter/injury replacement. But he will need to sustain his good work over the final stretch to make the Twins more confident in his long-term value.

4) Oswaldo Arcia: He has so much potential, and though it seems like he’s been here for a while (more than 600 PAs  between 2013 and 2014), it’s important to remember he just turned 23. There is time for him to go from a tantalizing streak hitter to a more consistent threat. We had high hopes for Arcia, and while his numbers right now aren’t really that far off from his encouraging rookie season, he has arrived here in fits and starts that make it feel like a disappointment. We believe he has the talent to be in the lineup many days a week on a good team. August and September, though, will be meaningful in that evaluation and his development.

5) Joe Mauer: Let’s be honest in saying this has been a brutal year for Joe. He’s been at his career-worst at the plate, and as soon as he’s shown signs of life, he’s gotten hurt. All of this, too, has come after a position switch that in theory was supposed to make him more durable and able to produce at the plate because of the reduced wear-and-tear of catching. Joe will turn 32 early next season. He has four years left after this one on his massive contract. Unless he wants to waive his no-trade clause, which we can’t imagine he does, the Twins and Mauer are in this for the long haul. If he can come back from his injury soon and at least finish this season strong, it would provide some hope that he can get close to being the Mauer of old in 2015. If not, there will be a nagging concern that old Mauer is gone and instead Mauer is just old.

TFD: Definitive power rankings from the 1993 "No Alternative" CD

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated August 5th at 5:03pm 270059111


Because it’s August and you have nothing better to do than jump into a discussion of the best songs of a compilation CD that is almost old enough to drink  – yes, “No Alternative” will turn 21 in October — please follow RandBallsStu (aka Steve Neuman of MPR/American Public Media) and I down this rabbit hole.

[This has nothing to do with sports, so be warned].

We will both give our rankings of the best songs on the disc, and I will even *temporarily* suspend the use of the royal we in order to make this less confusing. Stu gets to go first because he sent me this about a week ago and I’ve been slacking. Our different tastes in music should put to rest rumors once and for all that we are the same person. We are not. [Language warning on the links].

RandBallsStu’s No Alternative Power Rankings

  1. Unseen Power of the Picket Fence,” Pavement.  This was my first exposure to Pavement: a weird, clattering, stagger of a song about R.E.M. and the Civil War that doesn’t mention picket fences or have a chorus.   So it’s perfect.  I think I read that they were going to perform this on MTV and Michael Stipe wanted to dance in the background so they decided against it.  HIGHLIGHT: The way they sing “G-G-G-G-G-G-GEORGIA” towards the end.
  2. All Your Jeans Were Too Tight,” American Music Club.  Pedal steel guitar and despair work just as well in an alternative rock song as they do in a country song.  At least, I think it’s pedal steel.  Either way: wonderful tune, woefully underlooked band.
  3. Sappy,” Nirvana.  Hidden track!  Nobody does hidden tracks anymore!  Cracker’s Kerosene Hat had about 80 of them.
  4. Take A Walk,” Urge Overkill.  ONE OF US: Both Nash Kato and King Roeser of Urge Overkill are Minnesotans.  So, they’re in.
  5. Joed Out,” Barbara Manning.  I re-listened to the CD in order to make a better judgment on these power rankings for you, the reader, and remembered how much I enjoyed this track by one of the relatively lesser-known acts on the record.  Kind of a somber Liz Phair vibe if you’re into that sort of thing.  (Yes, I know she pre-dates Liz Phair.)

Honorable Mention/Notes

  • Of the remaining covers on this thing, the best one is CCR’s “Effigy” by Uncle Tupelo.
  • I enjoy the Goo Goo Dolls’ take on the Rolling Stones’ “Bitch,” but the former have done so much wrong in the intervening years that I cannot in good conscience rank them.  I remember the theme song you wrote for Good Morning, Miami, Johnny Rzeznik.  You thought you could distract everyone with that superfluous “z” WELL GUESS WHAT THAT DIDN’T HAPPEN.
  • Patti Smith’s contribution is touching and easy to admire, but listen to “Gloria” instead.  “Gloria” is amazing.

RandBall’s No Alternative Power Rankings

  1. “Verse, Chorus, Verse,” Nirvana. Yes, we can argue about whether we should call this song by its other title, “Sappy,” but to me it’s always VCV. And more importantly, it’s one of the five best songs ever recorded by one of the five best bands that ever picked up guitars and sang. So it easily tops my list even before factoring in that it’s the best hidden track this side of Beck’s “Debra.” I don’t know how you would hide a track on iTunes, but someone should figure this out because I WANT TO BE SURPRISED.
  2. “All Your Jeans Were Too Tight,” American Music Club. The thing that sparked this whole back-and-forth was a tweet I sent while driving to Mankato (don’t tweet and drive) noting that I always think of this song on that drive because of the lyric “Trying to make you feel better is like trying to trick St. Peter,” and the drive takes you through St. Peter. That’s ridiculous, but it’s true. I’m weird and that’s how my mind works. Just a fantastic song, though.
  3. Glynis,” Smashing Pumpkins. For a long time, I tried to pretend that I did not like the Smashing Pumpkins. Did. Not. Like. Nirvana was everything, and they were just some watered down version of everything. But even before I could admit that I liked Smashing Pumpkins, I really liked Gylnis. IN SECRET.
  4. “Unseen Power of the Picket Fence,” Pavement. As Stuart notes, this is one of the most Pavement songs ever. And I love Pavement. I saw them like 15 years ago. I’ve forgotten like 80 percent of everything that happened at all the shows I’ve gone to, but Pavement is vivid. Malkmus can name-check anyone he wants.
  5. Iris,” The Breeders. This song is only great for about 45 seconds, but when it’s great it’s so, so great. Speaking of name-checking, I saw the Breeders many years after their prime, and they were fabulous. My friend Jayme shared a cigarette with one of the Deal sisters. At least that’s how I remember it. [Seal the Deal joke self-deleted]. But really, it was a great show.

Honorable Mention/Notes

  • As Stu also notes, the “Effigy” cover and Urge Overkill’s “Take a Walk” are very good.
  • I also very much like the Soundgarden song “Show Me,” but there are better Soundgarden songs in their ample catalog and therefore they miss the cut.
  • I really don’t like the Bob Mould song or the Soul Asylum cover of Sexual Healing. I’ll just move to Wisconsin now.
  • Basically, I compiled these rankings based on a quick re-listening of all the songs, plus my memory of which ones I skipped over always, which I skipped sometimes and which I was particularly excited to get to.
  • I came across this Straight Jacket Fits song in the course of my research, and I think you should listen to it.


Texas 5 Bottom 5th Inning
Miami 2
Seattle 1 Bottom 3rd Inning
Philadelphia 0
Toronto - R. Dickey 1:10 PM
Milwaukee - J. Nelson
NY Mets - Z. Wheeler 2:35 PM
Oakland - J. Samardzija
Atlanta - A. Wood 6:05 PM
Pittsburgh - G. Cole
Houston - S. Feldman 6:05 PM
NY Yankees - M. Pineda
Arizona - T. Cahill 6:05 PM
Washington - T. Roark
LA Angels - G. Richards 6:10 PM
Boston - C. Buchholz
Detroit - R. Porcello 6:10 PM
Tampa Bay - J. Odorizzi
Cincinnati - J. Cueto 6:15 PM
St. Louis - L. Lynn
San Francisco - J. Peavy 7:05 PM
Chicago Cubs - E. Jackson
Baltimore - W. Chen 7:10 PM
Chicago WSox - H. Noesi
Cleveland - T. House 7:10 PM
Minnesota - R. Nolasco
Kansas City - D. Duffy 7:40 PM
Colorado - J. De La Rosa
San Diego - E. Stults 9:10 PM
Los Angeles - R. Hernandez
Pittsburgh 8/21/14 6:30 PM
Carolina 8/22/14 6:30 PM
New England
NY Giants 8/22/14 6:30 PM
NY Jets
Jacksonville 8/22/14 6:30 PM
Oakland 8/22/14 7:00 PM
Green Bay
Chicago 8/22/14 9:00 PM
Tampa Bay 8/23/14 3:30 PM
Tennessee 8/23/14 6:00 PM
Dallas 8/23/14 6:00 PM
Washington 8/23/14 6:30 PM
New Orleans 8/23/14 7:00 PM
Minnesota 8/23/14 7:00 PM
Kansas City
St. Louis 8/23/14 7:00 PM
Houston 8/23/14 8:00 PM
San Diego 8/24/14 3:00 PM
San Francisco
Cincinnati 8/24/14 7:00 PM
Los Angeles 8:00 PM
San Jose 9:00 PM
Montreal 8/22/14 7:30 PM
Toronto 8/23/14 3:00 PM
Calgary 8/24/14 2:00 PM
Saskatchewan 8/24/14 6:00 PM
Brt Columbia



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