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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TFD: Flip Saunders in the running for NBA Executive of the Year?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated February 19th at 12:29am 292275681

flipfansIf you think it’s too early for NFL mock drafts, it’s WAYYYYY too early for NBA mock drafts. But don’t tell that to Chad Ford of ESPN.com, who is already on his third version of the 2015 NBA mock, with more than four months to go until draft day.

Poor guy.

At this point, it’s probably just reshuffling teams based on records, even though the draft lottery could blow it all up. Still, his latest mock has the Wolves picking second and taking Kentucky center Karl-Anthony Towns, which would be fine and dandy. Of more interest to us is his lavish praise for Wolves coach/President Flip Saunders. Per Ford:

Andrew Wiggins wins MVP of the Rising Stars Challenge. Zach LaVine wins the Slam Dunk Contest. Ricky Rubio, Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng all have bright futures. The Wolves have several other interesting young players such as Anthony Bennett, Adreian Payne and Glenn Robinson III. And don’t forget that vets such as Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Martin should have terrific trade value before the trade deadline, and into the summer. Of the teams at the top of the draft, only the Jazz have an equal stockpile of young talent and assets. I can make a case that Flip Saunders should be in the running for Executive of the Year. The Wolves are going to be a very dangerous team in a couple of years, and adding Towns to the mix would make them even richer in talent.

NBA Exec of the Year will almost certainly go to a GM from a contender, but it is interesting praise from Ford for the rebuilding effort here.

Box scores that time forgot (May 17, 2002): Yankees 13, Twins 12, 14 innings

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated February 17th at 1:45pm 292248191

giambiThe official MLB Twitter feed did a very mean thing on Monday, tweeting out a gif of Jason Giambi’s walk-off grand slam against the Twins in 2002 in honor of Giambi’s retirement. It was a game we had almost forgotten about, and then the flood of memories came gushing back.

*The Twins trailed 8-3 after Rick Reed was shelled, but they came back to take a 9-8 lead thanks to a six-run sixth. Some stellar relief from Bob Wells, J.C. Romero and Mike Jackson (!) got them to the ninth with that one-run lead intact, but Eddie Guardado gave up a game-tying home run to Bernie Williams with one out.

*Guardado pitched a scoreless 10th, and then the Twins — their bullpen depleted — handed the ball to Jack Cressend. The game probably should have ended sometime during Cressend’s time. After all, he finished the season with a 5.91 ERA. Instead, he pitched three scoreless innings of relief — despite giving up four hits and five walks while striking out nobody — to get the game to the 14th inning. Cressend left the bases loaded in the 11th and 13th, while Giambi was thrown out at the plate trying to score on a double in that latter inning.

*In the Twins’ half of the 14th, RBI singles by Bobby Kielty, Denny Hocking and Jacque Jones looked like they would finally make winners of the Twins, giving them  a 12-9 lead.

*However, Mike Trombley had other ideas. Trombley was in his second tour of duty with the Twins and was pretty much out of gas. He was pitching in the third of what would be four consecutive games from May 15-18, which would turn out to be four of the final five appearances of his MLB career (the last would come May 27). In this particular game, Trombley gave up a single to Shane Spencer, a single to Derek Jeter and a walk to Williams before Giambi had a massive blast to right for a walk-off grand slam. The game lasted 5 hours, 45 minutes, and if you were unlucky enough to have watched the bitter ending, you won’t forget it.

*No big deal, though, right? The Twins won the division that year, starting a string of six AL Central titles in nine seasons. Well, yes and no. That year and game started a downward spiral against the Yankees. Minnesota went 0-6 against New York that season and ultimately would go 2-12 in losing four playoff series to the Yankees from 2003-10. Did it all start with that fateful walkoff slam? Maybe not. But it added to the collective weight of the Yankees’ mastery over the Twins.

Tuesday (Rivals.com monitoring 6th-grade prospects) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated February 17th at 10:34am 292209321

rivalsYou’d swear that headline was ripped straight from The Onion or some other satire site. But it isn’t. It’s absolutely true that Rivals.com has found a pair of sixth-graders — that was grade school when we were growing up — that it deems so talented at football that it must track them as part of the Class of 2021 already.

No, really. SI.com noted that Rivals is tracking sixth-graders for the first time after two were particularly impressive at a recent camp

They are: Running back Tyson Thornton and quarterback Daron Bryden. Thornton is a 5’11″ RB from Massachusetts, while Bryden is listed as a 5’2″ pro-style quarterback from Connecticut

Per Rivals.com, here is the scouting report on both:

Thornton is a 5-foot-11, 167-pound running back with great explosiveness and surprisingly good body control for a kid his size and age. Bryden, a small quarterback with a big arm is incredibly composed and very polished — and he can make every throw. And with a father standing nearly 6-foot-7, he may soon have the body to match his arm. Both of these young players were so impressive they were moved up to compete against the eighth grade prospects

Maybe this is just par for the course and we shouldn’t get bent out of shape. Plenty of athletes are identified as “elite” at this age in other sports. Still, it just feels weird in a sport like football — when these kids are many years away from physically maturing — to be calling someone a “pro style quarterback” or talking about how “polished” someone is.

Our daughter is in the 88th percentile for height. Maybe we can get Rivals to add her to the 2032 basketball database?

TFD: Betting site sets Twins over-under win total at 70.5, exactly the same as last year

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated February 17th at 7:00am 292115891

perkIt’s February, so it must be time for Bovada to set an underwhelming over-under win total for the Twins.

This year feels particularly familiar — so much so that we’re using the same dual image of Twins closer Glen Perkins to illustrate as we did a year ago.

Last year, Bovada put the Twins’ over-under win line at 70.5. We groused that it was too low and that the Twins would eclipse it by at least a handful of games. Then the season ended and Minnesota was right at 70. These guys in Vegas are pretty smart.

They’re so smart, we suppose, that they felt no need to come off that 70.5 number. That’s the exact same number Bovada has assigned to the 2015 Twins, which would mean despite the team’s attempts to upgrade its rotation with Ervin Santana, bolster the outfield/leadership with Torii Hunter and overhaul the organizational structure with a new manager and coaches, Vegas thinks the Twins are the same team relative to the rest of baseball that they were a year ago.

The game, of course, is not played on paper. And if we had to bet, we would be tempted, still, to take the over (even if it would have burned us last year). But again, these Vegas folks are pretty smart.

Browns player reportedly says imagine 'if we had drafted Teddy Bridgewater'

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated February 16th at 2:30pm 292102151

manzielIn a large piece that examines whether Johnny Manziel has what it takes to be an NFL quarterback — much of it in comparison to Teddy Bridgewater — Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman starts with this:

It was a few days after Johnny Manziel had imploded like a dying star against the Cincinnati Bengals, completing 10 passes for 80 yards and throwing two picks—one of the worst first starts for a quarterback in recent NFL history. Many things led to that moment, and Browns players knew the Manziel meltdown was approaching. Some were starting to think his on-field issues went beyond his apparent disdain for studying and practicing his craft. There was something else. Something simpler. Something bigger.

Some players believed Manziel wasn’t good enough to play in the NFL. It wasn’t solely the work ethic or the partying, but a dramatic talent deficit. In the wake of that disastrous start against the Bengals, a Browns player remembers a brief conversation he had with a teammate. “Think about where we’d be now,” the player recalled telling a teammate, “if we had drafted Teddy Bridgewater.

Now, it’s important to remember that Manziel has only played a handful of games in the NFL and that there are plenty of people rushing to give opinions about him. But it’s also undeniable that 1) Bridgewater completely outclassed him in every phase of the game as a rookie and 2) It might be another franchise, and not to one in Minnesota, left to lament a what-if personnel move for a change.

Because Cleveland could have had Bridgewater. Mock drafts suggested the Browns were going to take him. Instead, they opted for Manziel and the Vikings got Teddy. The rest is brief history for now, with many interesting chapters yet to be written.

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