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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Kiper 2009 re-draft shows just how fall Percy Harvin has fallen

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated March 19th at 3:53pm 296920141

harvinWe must be in one of those lulls in the NFL draft speculation calendar — between mock drafts 42 and 43 — so ESPN’s Mel Kiper has a feature on ESPN.com in which he redoes the 2009 draft based on the order players would be selected if we knew then what we know now.

We clicked on the link because we thought, “Oh, 2009. Percy Harvin. The Vikings got a steal with Harvin. He must be higher than the actual draft slot where they picked him at No. 22.”

Wrong. And yes, it’s just Kiper’s opinion. But he has Harvin as the No. 25 pick in the draft, after the Vikings picked. For Minnesota, he picks safety Glover Quinn — who he deems the 22nd-best player/value from that draft now.

Of Harvin, he writes: “Harvin’s name seems to inspire a lot of buzz, which isn’t unfair if you saw him in his prime with the ball in his hands. But the reality is he hasn’t been a big part of an NFL offense since the 2012 season, and he played in only nine games that year. He’s still only 26 years old, but he’ll be with his fourth franchise in 2015. Harvin does have an All-Pro season on his résumé — as a return man in 2009.”

Those of us who watched Harvin when he was engaged and healthy in those four seasons with the Vikings can’t fathom him not being a top-10 player from that draft, but Kiper makes a good point. If anything, it’s a reminder of just how far Harvin’s stock has fallen.

Thursday (Has the NFL lost its mind?) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated March 19th at 12:42pm 296877531

OPRAHTwo pieces of news from this week can only lead to one conclusion: The NFL very well might have lost its mind.

Let’s start with the light-hearted: League owners are going to discuss a whole bunch of rule changes when they meet next week. A lot of the rules are worthwhile considerations, such as amendments to how replay works. In all, the league’s competition committee will present 23 proposed changes for discussion.

One of them, though, is so ridiculous that it seems like satire. Per ESPN.com:

The Indianapolis Colts proposed a scenario that gives teams that successfully convert a 2-point conversion the chance to immediately add another point with a “bonus field goal.” Under the Colts’ proposal, if a team converts a 2-point conversion it would then line up from the 32-yard line to attempt a 50-yard field goal. If the kick is good, the team would receive a total of nine points on that possession — six for the touchdown, two for the 2-point try and a point for the extra field goal.

What? So a nine-point possession would be possible? This is wacky beyond words. The Colts GM is apparently NOT optimistic it will pass. We aren’t optimistic the rest of the owners will make it through the proposal with a straight face.

And now the serious: A neurosurgeon who works for the NFL’s Steelers gave a short interview about brain injuries in the league that, again, feels like satire.

Dr. Joseph Maroon downplayed the safety issues in both youth football and the NFL and said, among other things, that riding a bike or a skateboard is more dangerous than playing youth football.

This is classic NFL, doubling down on its own rhetoric in the face of transition (in this case the Chris Borland retirement) instead of attempting to engage in rational discussion.

This type of defiance and arrogance has served the league well in growing to insane levels of popularity, but this week feels like another drop of poison that will ultimately kill the goose laying the golden eggs.

TFD: Aaron Rodgers is less popular than cheese and less popular than he used to be in Wisconsin

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated March 18th at 5:27pm 296780461

rodgersThe ESPN headline indicates that only cheese tops Aaron Rodgers in a public opinion survey of Wisconsin residents. Cheese gets an 80 percent approval rating, while the Packers QB is just below it at 79 percent.

That’s all well and good, but here on this blog, we have been known to cheapen things from time to time. So we’re taking information from the top of the story and the very bottom to cobble together the real headline: Rodgers’ approval rating has dropped 10 percent in the last four years.

Yes, in 2011 — after Rodgers led the Packers to a Super Bowl title — his approval was at 89 percent in the same poll.

Since then, he’s won two MVP awards … but a return trip to the Super Bowl, let alone a victory in the big game, has eluded his grasp. If you delve into the comments section of Packers game stories, you will find fans hyper-critical of Rodgers (which is crazy because he’s thrown 226 career TDs and just 57 INTs).

So whereby it used to be roughly 9 of every 10 Packers fans who approved of their QB, now it’s not even 8 of 10. Tough crowd. He’s barely ahead of Bo Ryan (76 percent) and Barry Alvarez (71 percent). Everyone is crushing Bret Bielema (17 percent) and Gary Andersen (15 percent), recent defectors from Badger-land.

President Obama, who is listed at 6-foot-1 but in fact might be taller, has almost exactly the same approval rating in March of 2015 that he had in March of 2011.

The secret of Kevin Love's success? Chocolate milk, apparently

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated March 18th at 2:58pm 296765071

kevinloveFor yet another reason, it looks as though the Wolves’ offseason trade of Kevin Love was a good one for all parties involved: there just isn’t enough room in this town for two athletes to sponsor milk, and the plain vs. chocolate debate that would have erupted between Joe Mauer and Love would have been too much to bear.

Yes, we know Mauer and Kemps parted ways after their contract was up at the end of 2013 — and yes, in Mauer’s fictional milk power rankings chocolate came in second — but he’s still associated with dairy delights, most notably 2 percent.

As for Love? He’s part of a new Built With Chocolate Milk campaign that has some rather braggy claims.

Kevin Love dominates the backboards and for years the 6’10” power forward has downed chocolate milk to help him rebound on and off the court.

“One thing I’ve taken seriously over the years is how important recovery is after my training and games,” said Love. “Thanks to my mom, chocolate milk has been my go-to recovery drink since I was 8 years old and it has continued to help me come back game after game.”

[Side note: It probably didn't help him jump here].

[Second side note: chocolate milk is delicious and we have heard of it as a recovery drink for runners].

Still, it’s a pretty intense campaign filled with robot videos and made-up words like “reboundability.

Also, in the bio page, we learn that Love’s favorite movies are “He Got Game” and “Gladiator.” Feel free to peruse the rest of the site/campaign at your own free will.

Wednesday (Going without cable TV as a sports fan) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated March 18th at 12:05pm 296731181

cordcutI wrote in today’s Star Tribune about “cutting the cord” — a trendy term given to those who give up satellite or cable TV — and the options/challenges that face sports fans who attempt to go this route.

The changing ways in which we consume sports has fascinated me for a while, and the story attempted to answer some of the questions about which I had been wondering. The conclusions in the piece were that a lot of people are fed up with pay TV because of the cost or excess of channels they don’t watch, but that for sports fans — particularly those who want to watch local teams — it is difficult to give it up.

In the comments section — sometimes a dangerous place to tread but in this case a place for a good discussion and some witty commentary — BallFour sums up the frustration pretty well: There aren’t more than a dozen or so worthwhile TV networks available, yet people pay for them all. If you had to buy 19 bundles of kale to get a half-gallon of ice cream at a grocer, you’d quit eating ice cream

Another good point from teamtepley: Cut the cord years ago and will never go back. My kids hardly know what commercials are.. And, since our local sports teams I care about have been mostly unwatchable anyway I really haven’t missed a thing. Watching sports on tv is like anything else once you get over it you just find something else to do.

Indeed. Some of you might remember this from previous posts a while back, but I went nearly three years of my adult life not only without cable, but without a TV. These were three years that I worked at the Star Tribune, roughly late 2004 through mid-2007. I was living with my soon-to-be-wife at the time, and I followed sports like a lot of you said you do when I queried you for the story: read a lot of stories online, went to quite a few games in person (both as a fan and for work) and, if there was a game I really wanted to watch, went to a friend’s house or a bar to watch it.

I don’t remember exactly what it was like because it was a while ago, but I do remember not terribly missing it even though sports were such a big part of my job. What both of us missed most was not being able to just sit down and watch a movie or a TV show (we had a tiny portable DVD player that we would watch, which is pretty much how I viewed the entire catalog of Arrested Development and Curb Your Enthusiasm).

So as a wedding present to ourselves in 2007, we got a flat screen TV — nothing fancy, just a 32-incher, but by far the nicest TV either of us had ever owned. The local cable company was offering a package of Internet where it was basically cheaper to get basic cable (networks and a few other channels, though no sports channels) than just Internet alone, so we got that along with it.

Slowly, I started watching a few things other than movies … and slowly I became frustrated with how little there was to watch … until one day I announced to my wife that I really wanted to upgrade what we had. She consented, we got DirecTV, and we’ve had 80 billion channels (including more sports than one could have ever thought was imaginable) ever since.

Now, if I’m not paying attention, I will reflexively turn the TV on when I get home from work or if I know there is a (fill in the blank: Wild, Wolves, Twins, Gophers) game on at night. It became even more pronounced once my wife became pregnant and even more so now that we have a soon-to-be-1-year-old because we’re home at night a lot more than we used to be.

Noticing that, I’ve tried to be more conscious of what I watch. It’s not that TV is “evil” or anything like that. It’s that there is so much else to do, and the games kind of blur together after a while. There’s just no need to watch every … single … one — even for someone who writes about sports for a living.

Doing this story made me wonder if our household could give up cable/satellite again. Our household literally watches five channels about 90 percent of the time the TV is on (ESPN, FSN, BTN, HGTV and the Food Network), yet we get hundreds more and pay roughly $150 a month for TV and internet combined. Almost all of the shows/movies we watch come from Netflix streaming.

If I was just a casual sports fan, I would ditch it in a second and get Sling TV — the new service launched by Dish that gives you 16 channels, including ESPN, HGTV and the Food Network, for $20 a month, contract-free. Sling and internet would be about half the price we’re paying now — cutting $75 a month from our budget — but it’s those regional sports networks, and giving up local teams, that is the sticking point for me and so many others.

True a la carte pricing, where we could pick and choose the channels we really want, would be ideal — as it would be for a lot of people — but that is what the cable/satellite companies and networks fear. So I don’t know if we will ever truly get that — and even if we do, the pricing on individual channels might be high enough that, when adding up all the ones you want, the cost is comparable to having everything.

So really, like a lot of others, I’m stuck either waiting for a shift in the way TV is offered that might never arrive … or trying to make a decision about what I can live without (and how I want to live).

I don’t think I’m there yet when it comes to cutting the cord, but I’m thinking about it more and more.

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NY Mets 2 FINAL
Washington 0
Pittsburgh 7 FINAL
Detroit 3
Miami 3 FINAL
St. Louis 2
Boston - WP: K. Couch 11 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: C. Reavis 8
NY Yankees - LP: M. Tanaka 1 FINAL
Minnesota - WP: T. Milone 3
Tampa Bay 4 FINAL
Baltimore 3
Philadelphia 6 FINAL
Toronto 10
Chicago Cubs 15 FINAL
Texas 10
Cincinnati - WP: M. Lorenzen 10 FINAL
Milwaukee - LP: M. Fiers 4
Colorado 3 FINAL
San Francisco 4
Chicago WSox 2 FINAL
Los Angeles 1
Seattle 6 FINAL
Cleveland 8
Oakland - WP: J. Fuller 13 FINAL
LA Angels - LP: B. Loconsole 10
Texas 7 FINAL
Arizona 8
Houston 8 FINAL
Atlanta 5
Kansas City 4 FINAL
San Diego 1
Atlanta 95 FINAL
Detroit 105
Indiana 106 FINAL
Brooklyn 111
San Antonio 95 FINAL
Miami 81
Golden State 110 FINAL
LA Clippers 106
New Jersey 2 FINAL(OT)
Columbus 3
Carolina 2 FINAL
Washington 4
Florida 2 FINAL
Boston 3
Ottawa 2 FINAL(SO)
Detroit 1
Tampa Bay 1 FINAL
Toronto 3
NY Rangers 3 FINAL
Winnipeg 2
Vancouver 5 FINAL(SO)
Nashville 4
UT Martin 66 FINAL
Evansville 79
Miami-Florida 60 FINAL
Temple 57
NJIT 61 FINAL
Northern Ariz 68
Stanford 67 FINAL
Old Dominion 60

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