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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What if Twitter existed: The 1991 World Series

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated July 2nd at 2:12pm

randmid_1403705018_maddogA week ago, we had this idea: create a series of posts based on events in the past and imagine how they might have “blown up Twitter,” as the kids like to say, if Twitter had been around then.

You gave us several very good suggestions for ground to cover. The next step was coming up with a format, and we decided on this: creating a cast of fictional mostly Minnesota-based Twitter characters, with fake tweets, to cover the five biggest moments of each event we pick. With that in mind, our first topic is the 1991 World Series:

HRBEK PULLS GANT OFF THE BAG

Average Minnesota guy: THAT’S WHY WE LOVE U HRBIE!!!!

Minnesota guy who makes obvious jokes: Is this wrestling or is this baseball? Who cares, I love it!

Minnesota fan who never sees it the other way: Gant’s momentum obviously carried him off the bag. Good call. #noharmnofoul

BRAVES WIN GAME 4 ON JERRY WILLARD SAC FLY

Average Minnesota guy: JERRY WHO? #ComeOn

Minnesota guy who takes things too seriously: Jack Buck? More like Joke Buck. Pretty close play at the plate to say it’s “gonna be a winner.”

Sports business guy: Jerry Willard wasn’t even on the Braves’ opening day roster and is making the MLB minimum. #value

PUCKETT’S HOME RUN WINS GAME 6

Minnesota fan who thinks mashing on the keyboard is a funny way to show excitement: aklsdjfkl;jasdfkl;jsdfnsdaklf;sdnfkl;aklsdjfdsaas

99 percent of Minnesotans on Twitter: I can’t take another night of this.

LONNIE SMITH/CHUCK KNOBLAUCH PLAY

Legitimately clever Minnesotan: They call Lonnie Smith “skates,” and that was an awkward power stop.  #hotsportstakes #hotsportsskates

Minnesotan who had no idea of the future: I will 4ever love Chuck Knoblauch after that play. #rookieoftheyear

GENE LARKIN WINS IT IN THE 10TH INNING OF GAME 7

RandBallsStu: I need a drink and a cigarette.

Carefully composed tweet guy: The first six heart attacks were totally worth the seventh one. WORLD CHAMPS

Going to be sad in the future guy: Winning is fun! Let’s do this all the time!

Wednesday (Mauer to the DL solves uncomfortable All-Star question) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated July 2nd at 12:20pm

mauerlameIt’s official: Joe Mauer is on the disabled list after straining a right oblique muscle in Tuesday’s blowout victory over the Royals.

This is obviously a shame for the Twins and Mauer. He has shown real life in two different spurts this season, hitting .394 with a homer and six RBI over a nine game stretch in late April/early May and again over the past 12 games, when he’s hit .362 with 12 RBI. Both of those stretches were immediately followed by time missed with an injury — a handful of games in May with a back strain, and now the oblique injury.

There will be no shortage of #hottakes about his fragility, though it is certainly notable that even after a position switch, Mauer has twice now managed to pull up lame and we’re not even to the All-Star break.

Speaking of the All-Star break: The only positive we can see in this injury, and it’s a warped and twisted silver lining, is that this will end all debate over whether he will be added to the All-Star roster.

Mauer did not deserve a spot this year. Even with his recent surge, he’s batting .271 with a .695 OPS. But the game is at Target Field, of course, and there was certainly a chance that he would have received a sentimental nod. This would have created one of the more awkward situations we can imagine: a good chunk of Twins fans reacting with outrage because the homegrown star of the hometown team made the All-Star team in his hometown game.

Instead, this should end all speculation. Mauer is on the 15-day DL. The All-Star Game is 13 days from now. Mauer presumably can still handle his All-Star Game ambassador duties. But we can now shift our attention to more deserving Twins (Glen Perkins, Phil Hughes, Kurt Suzuki, possibly Brian Dozier) instead of wondering how things will play out with Mauer.

TFD: The Vanek and Heatley comparisons are natural, but are they fair?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated July 2nd at 6:38am

vanekDany Heatley was 30 years old when the Wild acquired him in a trade with San Jose in 2011. He was a natural goal scorer, having potted 245 goals in his previous six seasons. Even though the totals had been diminishing, it was assumed Heatley could still provide 25-30 goals a year for the Wild playing out the final three years of a contract that would pay him $19 million.

Instead, Heatley scored just 47 goals total in three seasons with the Wild. He had his moments, and he was a good guy in the locker room any time we dealt with him, but overall he certainly did not deliver nearly as many goals as the Wild and fans would have hoped.

The natural fear, then, is that Thomas Vanek — signed by the Wild on Tuesday — winds up as the next Heatley. Both are forwards with a knack for putting the puck in the net. Vanek, like Heatley, is a former WCHA player (Gophers vs. Badgers) who is 30 at the time of joining the Wild. (Their birthdays are even two days apart). He has a remarkably similar contract in terms of his time here (3 years, $19.5 million). His goal scoring totals have declined to the point that 25 or 30 might be considered a good season, rather than the 40 he delivered a couple times in his younger days. His performance in the playoffs this season did not inspire confidence, though it might have helped the Wild when it came to the years and money on the contract.

Is the comparison between Vanek and Heatley natural? Absolutely. There are too many similarities too ignore. Are they fair? They’re not fair — yet. We need to see how Vanek performs because no two players are the same. The Wild could end up getting a tremendous bargain if he’s the player they think he is — which is to say he’s the player they thought they were also getting in Heatley. Or Minnesota could be saddled with a big cap hit and not enough production.

Time will tell, but for now we’ll give Vanek the benefit of the doubt.

Ryan Saunders, son of Flip, introduced as Wolves assistant coach

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated July 1st at 8:49pm

saunderspic - CopyRyan Saunders was officially hired as a Timberwolves assistant coach Tuesday, a move that seemed to be a formality once his father, Flip, added head coaching duties to his title of President of Basketball Operations.

At his introductory news conference Tuesday, Ryan Saunders talked plenty about forging his own identity separate from his dad, which he feels he was able to do in Washington by staying on the Wizards staff the past two years. Ryan joined the staff when Flip was hired as head coach, but Flip was fired in the middle of the 2011-12 season and Ryan stayed on.

This market has seen more than its share of father-son combos — enough to toss around the word nepotism without much caution. Rick Adelman, Tubby Smith … now Mike Zimmer and Norv Turner … just to name four. All of them had sons working with them. It’s an interesting dynamic, to be sure, and one that can create a certain amount of healthy skepticism (particularly when a staff does not pan out).

Perhaps the most interesting thing to us, though — and the thing that makes this a merit-based move more than just a name move — is Ryan Saunders’ background in analytics. He is the co-founder of Gametime Concepts, a program that takes in-game analysis and statistical probabilities to provide real-time results. It’s used by NBA and NCAA teams, and it’s clearly part of Saunders’ belief system.

He was asked numerous questions about analytics on Tuesday and cited a specific example of John Wall’s turnover tendencies in Washington as an example of how numbers and information can help improve a player’s game. Wall had a tendency to turn the ball over in transition, but knowing about the tendency helped him make better decisions in games, Saunders said.

In a league in which margins are thin — the Wolves’ infamous poor stretch last season in close games helped doom them — one or two possessions can be huge. If Saunders brings an edge that helps the Wolves in those spots (or helps the likes of Ricky Rubio improve overall), he will be a good addition to the staff.

Tuesday (A trip report from the 1930 U.S. World Cup team) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated July 1st at 10:42am

1930 World Cup TeamThe United States faces Belgium at 3 p.m. in the World Cup round of 16. You probably knew that.

A slightly more interesting fact that you might have known but quite possibly didn’t know: the U.S. has only defeated Belgium once in World Cup play — a 3-0 victory in 1930, the very first World Cup.

And here’s something you almost certainly didn’t know: the goalkeeper on that team was James E. Douglas, a 1953 U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame inductee. And as luck would have it, Douglas’ great grandson, Jim Douglas, was named after him — and also lives in the Twin Cities, working in downtown Minneapolis.

Jim Douglas reached out to us yesterday with that fantastic picture you see above of the 1930 Cup team (the players aren’t labeled, but we imagine his great-grandfather, the keeper, is in black); he also sent along a document detailing the matches and insights from the 1930 Cup from the perspective of the U.S. squad . We’ve downloaded it into a handy file for all of you to read as a nice bit of lead-up to the match this afternoon.

A sample: “Saturday, the 26th, was the day of our semi-final with the robust, well-trained Argentinian team.”

Please do enjoy!

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Los Angeles - LP: Z. Greinke 1 FINAL
Detroit - WP: M. Scherzer 4
San Diego - LP: J. Benoit 3 FINAL
Colorado - WP: B. Logan 6
Toronto - LP: A. Loup 7 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: J. Grilli 8
Miami - LP: S. Cishek 3 FINAL
Arizona - WP: B. Ziegler 4
Washington - WP: D. Fister 6 FINAL
Baltimore - LP: B. Norris 2
NY Yankees - WP: C. Whitley 5 FINAL
Cleveland - LP: V. Pestano 4
Atlanta - LP: E. Santana 1 FINAL
NY Mets - WP: D. Gee 4
Chicago Cubs - LP: D. Beeler 1 FINAL
Cincinnati - WP: A. Simon 4
Chicago WSox - LP: J. Guerra 4 FINAL
Boston - WP: K. Uehara 5
Kansas City - WP: A. Crow 5 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: K. Yates 4
Houston - WP: D. Keuchel 8 FINAL
Texas - LP: Y. Darvish 4
Philadelphia - WP: R. Hernandez 4 FINAL
Milwaukee - LP: K. Lohse 1
Pittsburgh - LP: B. Cumpton 2 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: L. Lynn 5
Minnesota 8 Top 8th Inning
Seattle 1
Oakland 2 Top 8th Inning
San Francisco 5
Winnipeg 7/11/14 6:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 7/11/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Calgary 7/12/14 5:30 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 7/12/14 8:30 PM
Saskatchewan
Edmonton 7/17/14 7:30 PM
Winnipeg
Toronto 7/18/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Hamilton 7/18/14 9:00 PM
Calgary
Montreal 7/19/14 6:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Washington 72 FINAL
Chicago 65
Seattle 58 FINAL
Phoenix 78
New York 66 FINAL
San Antonio 80

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