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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Thoughts from Ponder and Gray -- Vikings players and dads -- on Peterson

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated September 15th at 3:21pm 275174481

Reactions to the allegations against Vikings running back Adrian Peterson have been far-reaching and often colored by our experiences and own lives. If you lived in the South, as Adrian Peterson and Jerome Felton did, disciplining a child with a “switch” was and continues to be commonplace.

Others can’t fathom any level of that sort of punishment, particularly something that would cause injuries to a 4-year-old that were so severe that charges were filed. Many of those particularly disturbed are parents.

We attempted to find some representatives those two groups in the Vikings locker room and wound up chatting with MarQueis Gray, the former Gophers QB who though not from the deep South (born and raised in Indianapolis) does have two small twin boys he often posts about on social media. We also checked in with Christian Ponder, who recently became a dad and grew up in Texas, like Peterson.

Gray, a new addition to the team, was fairly guarded when we asked him if being a father made him view the Peterson situation any differently. “Everyone has their own things about disciplining their children,” he said. “I really didn’t focus too much on it. I have enough problems as it is. I’m here still trying to learn the playbook.”

Ponder, when asked the same question, said: “I haven’t had time to think about it. Everyone has their different ways of dealing with their own children, and everyone is different.”

Ponder went on to say that his parents “had their way of punishing us as children” but declined to discuss what that entailed.

Their remarks are telling, though, in that they seem to be framing this as a parental choice. Gray and Ponder are surely choosing their words carefully because a locker room is a tight-knit place.

Our thought (as a new dad, and as a human being raised in the Midwest) remains that certainly when you cross the territory into alarming a doctor with the extent of damage you have done, you are over the line from simply being a parent deciding how to discipline your child.

And there are consequences regardless of intent.

Opposing views of Adrian Peterson from Cris Carter, Charles Barkley

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated September 15th at 11:33am 275141391

One of the fundamental questions a lot of folks are wrestling with in the case of Adrian Peterson and charges of child abuse is this: did he act maliciously in a situation where there is no grey area, or can his behavior be explained (if not excused) by the environment he grew up in and a Southern culture many of us don’t know or understand?

To us, the answer is probably somewhere in the middle, whereby Peterson is most definitely a product of a different environment and upbringing, but within that acceptance 1) there needs to be growth from generation to generation and an understanding that how he was punished growing up isn’t necessarily right and 2) even if we continue with the “this is how it is” leeway, within that construct he went well over the line with the extent of the punishment he doled out.

Two prominent former athletes, both black, weighed in on both sides of the matter recently. We’ll give you a quick snippet of what each said on camera, with links to the full video.

Said Charles Barkley: “I’m from the South. … Whipping, we do that all the time. Every black parent in the South is going to be in jail under those circumstances.”

Said Cris Carter, talking about his upbringing: “My mom did the best that she could do … But there are thousands of things that I have learned since then that my mom was wrong. This is the 21st century; my mom was wrong… And I promise my kids I won’t teach that mess to them. You can’t beat a kid to make them do what you want them to do.”

Of course, Carter also said he was proud of the Vikings for de-activating Peterson. We’re assuming he’ll have more to say now that the Vikings have announced Peterson is expected to play next week.

Your thoughts, as usual, in the comments.

Monday (The re-emergence of Oswaldo Arcia) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated September 15th at 12:39pm 275125741

oswaldoIn another going-nowhere season for the Twins, the best fans can hope for are signs that certain players could be considered parts of the future.

We found that out last year with Brian Dozier, who has leveled off this season after a powerful start but still projects to hit for above-average power while playing a very good second base for years to come. This year, we’ve seen flashes of it from Kyle Gibson. We’ve seen a very good first 350 ABs for Danny Santana and a very nice first impression from Kennys Vargas.

The player we thought was primed for a breakout, though, was Oswaldo Arcia. Through the first half of the year, however, he was looking more like a bust than boom. Even now, his cumulative numbers are similar to his promising but uneven 2013 season.

Yet still, there are numbers within numbers and trends within trends that suggest he’s starting to figure it out and re-emerge as someone whose bat could be a key part of the future. In has last 43 games, Arcia has 12 homers and a .551 slugging percentage. He’s still striking out too much, but his plate discipline is improving (see for yourself if you still have the stomach for these late-season games). Arcia had a hit and two walks on Sunday, bringing his season BB total to 29 — not a lot, but a number that could go up as Arcia (just 23 still) matures even more.

We don’t ever see him as a .300 hitter. What we do see him as is a guy who can hit .250 with 25-30 HRs and enough walks to consistently post an OPS above .800. Even with his defensive shortcomings, that’s a positive player in the future. (His home run power and intensity, we should add, also make him the RandBall Better Half’s new favorite Twins player, joining a select group that includes only Eddie Guardado and Jim Thome. She desperately wants her nickname for him, O’do, to catch on).

So while the Twins’ starting pitching remains a mess despite their efforts to address it this offseason — and the team will never get out of its funk until that is solved — the establishment of some young bats this season is a nice development that has helped lead to the astonishing stat that Minnesota is 6th in MLB in runs scored.

We weren’t sure Arcia would wind up in that group, but he’s showing us down the stretch that he does, indeed, belong.

Vikings Post-game Meltdown: Peterson, special teams and the difference a week makes

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated September 14th at 4:00pm 275060771

Well, that was ugly. Let’s get right to it with some immediate post-game thoughts:

1) The big story for the past 48 hours, without a doubt, has been the saga of Adrian Peterson. The bulk of the discussion has been on off-field matters relating to his indictment, and rightfully so. We had a chance to speak with a handful of Vikings fans at TCF Bank Stadium before Sunday’s game, and we were interested to hear their thoughtful responses when it comes to Peterson. Two fans wearing AP jerseys said they hesitated before putting their jerseys on for the game, but both essentially said they want to see how the process plays out before passing further judgment. Another fan, though, was wearing a Cordarrelle Patterson jersey that he bought Friday to replace his Peterson jersey. The fan, who has three young daughters, said he can’t support Peterson any more even if he will continue to watch the Vikings.

At noon, the focus turned to on-field matters, and the big question was how the Vikings would function offensively without a player who, even when he isn’t dominant (which he was not last week), gives opposing defenses plenty to think about. Matt Asiata does not similarly strike fear into opponents. We’re not sure how much of Sunday’s offensive struggle was due to Peterson’s absence, since Matt Cassel made some awful throws and the offensive line struggled all day, but a New England defense that looked ordinary at best last week looked quite good this week.

2) The biggest play of the game was probably Cassel’s first INT, an underthrown deep ball the Patriots returned to the Vikings’ 1 and cashed in for a score that tied the game 7-7 after an impressive first Minnesota drive. But the second-biggest play was the blocked field goal at the end of the first half; if Blair Walsh knocks it through, it’s 17-10 New England at the break, and the game is theoretically still up for grabs. Instead, of course, it was blocked and returned for a TD that made it 24-7. That play, combined with a big punt return by Julian Edelman, made us think about a story line that hasn’t popped up much but is still relevant: the absence of special teams coach Mike Priefer, who is serving his suspension after the Chris Kluwe investigation. Regardless of what you think of Priefer personally and whether he should still have a job, he has been a very good special teams coach during his tenure here. Joe Marciano was hired as an interim special teams coach, but it’s certainly possible that the Vikings missed Priefer on Sunday. He can return as early as this coming week if his suspension is reduced from three games to two.

3) We wrote on Wednesday that this game against New England would be the defining game of the Vikings’ season. Sure, it’s weird to think of Game 2 of 16 having that kind of weight, but we really felt it was going to be a test of where Minnesota really is. A win against New England meant the Vikings were suddenly 2-0 against what many thought was a tough early schedule. A loss meant a reality check.

Well, we certainly got the reality check. The Vikings have questions all over the field — still in the secondary, still on the offensive line and certainly at QB after Cassel’s performance. If coaches were geniuses a week ago, we can tap the brakes on that talk. Having Peterson removed from the game plan abruptly certainly didn’t help, but this loss was far more wide-reaching than just one player.

Much like the sobering loss to the Patriots in 2006 in Brad Childress’ first season — the Vikings entered that game 4-2 — this one is a reminder of just how far Minnesota has to go to be a consistently competitive team.

Must-see video: Chest bump in high school football goes terribly awry

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated September 12th at 1:30pm 274925661

We’re having a hard time coming up with pearls of wisdom today, so we’ll go back to the always-available Plan B: find an amusing video and let you enjoy it instead of just babbling for the sake of babbling.

Please, then, enjoy the aftermath of a TD from what appears to be an 8-man football game in Tennessee. This is what happens when one person in a chest bump has more momentum than the other:

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