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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Monday (The best and worst of Bridgewater) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated December 16th at 11:52pm 285829061

fridgewaterIf you want a microcosm of what Teddy Bridgewater does well and what he does poorly, save Sunday’s game against the Lions forever.

When it comes to locating the proper receiver, having good accuracy on short-to-intermediate throws and generally making good decisions with the football, Bridgewater is already in the top half of NFL starting QBs, maybe even the top 10. He knows how to run an offense. And this is very encouraging.

Those traits helped Bridgewater lead the Vikings on three drives that covered more than 75 yards against a very good Detroit defense. Two resulted in touchdowns; the other resulted in an inexplicably blocked field goal after 11 minutes of possession. If that kick goes through, perhaps we’re a little easier on Bridgewater today. But it didn’t, so it gave us another crucial look at a throw he simply can’t make right now with any consistency.

It was the same type of throw that resulted in the game-turning interception in the first half, after the Vikings had taken a 14-0 lead: a longer throw to one of the sidelines.

On those throws, Bridgewater — not gifted with a rocket for an arm — has a bad tendency to get underneath the ball to try to muster up strength. His elbow drops, and sometimes the ball sails. That happened on the INT, which was glaring. And it happened again in the final minute when he overthrew Jarius Wright on a pass that very well could have helped the Vikings get into more realistic field goal position.

We’re not sure to what extent arm strength can be “taught.” In baseball, you don’t “teach” a pitcher to throw harder. It’s one of those natural gifts that you either have or don’t have. Maybe because he’s so young his arm will get a little stronger. But we wouldn’t count on it.

So the question becomes: how do Bridgewater and the Vikings work around that? Can he at least improve technique enough to get on top of that throw and improve the timing? Do the Vikings not ask him to ever make that throw? (They rarely do now, and for good reason).

And to a larger extent, the question that will define Bridgewater as he continues to develop is how much all of those things he does well can or cannot cover up for what remains, at least for now and quite possibly forever, a significant deficiency?

Aaron Rodgers and Olivia Munn don't have sex on game days

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated December 12th at 3:42pm 285656841

rodgersmunnJust going to leave this right here and walk away. We didn’t need to know this about Aaron Rodgers and Olivia Munn, but now we do know.

Asked by Andy Cohen on Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live about sex on Packers game days, Munn said it doesn’t happen.

“No we don’t. Not on game day,” Munn said. “There’s not a rule. It just doesn’t happen because there’s other things to focus on.”

But the whole no-sex-on-game-days thing isn’t a superstition. It just doesn’t happen.

“I try to have sex as much as I can,” Munn said.

Nuclear Wessel: Your weekly dose of EPL soccer and scorching hot takes

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated December 12th at 2:10pm 285646021

nuclearDana Wessel produces the K-TWIN Morning Show with Rider and Rena Sarigianopoulos on 96.3 K-TWIN Monday-Friday 5:30am-10:00am.

———–

Hope you got your Ove-Gloves on at your computer while you read this, because this edition of Nuclear Wessel is about to get hot.

Funny how sports work in the 2014 hot take, 24/7, clicks-are-gold news cycle.

Two weeks ago you saw the headlines/tweets like this: ARE CHELSEA THE GREATEST TEAM TO EVER KICK A SOCCER BALL AND WILL THE CLUB EVER LOSE A MATCH FOR THE REST OF ETERNITY?!

Now this week: HAS MOURINHO LOST THE PLOT AT CHELSEA? CAN THEY OVERCOME THIS HARDSHIP OR WILL THEY FOLD THE CLUB ENTIRELY AND TURN STAMFORD BRIDGE INTO THE WORLD’S LARGEST PETTING ZOO?!

As we say every season in every sport, it is a marathon, not a sprint*. An eight point lead in November isn’t insurmountable and the fact that it is down to three points shouldn’t come as a shock to any rational person.

*except the 100 meter dash. That, literally, is a sprint. No time time for error there. Just gotta kinda bust-buns all 100 meters.

So the title race is back on! Just as it always has been. Chelsea remain up on City by three points. Meanwhile, the race for the top four is starting to take shape with Manchester United showing they are serious about a return to Europe.

A fun slate of matches ahead, highlighted by the always-controversial Manchester United/Liverpool battle to the death. Enjoy!

No. 1: Chelsea vs Hull City at Stamford Bridge

When: Saturday at 8:00am on NBC Sports Network

Last year: Clinical 2-0 win last year for the Blues against Hull. Oscar and Lampard both scored goals inside of 25 minutes to put the Tigers away early at Stamford Bridge.

The Blues rebounded nicely from that shocking 2-1 loss to Newcastle by winning at Sporting midweek in Champions League. A 3-1 win in a match where they didn’t need to win (they already clinched their group) and rested John Terry, Eden Hazard and Willian. Just what the Blues needed before heading back into league competition.

Hull City aren’t finding much love in their first season back in the top flight since 2009-10. They have won just two matches and sit in 18th place with just 13 points. Their last win came back on October 4th against Crystal Palace and they have lost four of their last six.

The Blues are heavily favored in this one, and deservedly so. Chelsea are unbeaten in their last 10 against the Tigers, winning eight of those matches. Also, they have never lost to Hull City in the Premier League.

Best case scenario for Chelsea is they cruise to a comfortable win and get Diego Costa a goal or two. The big man has struggled as of late and even Mourinho has called out his fitness a bit. Him scoring goals by the bunch is a huge key to Chelsea’s season and they can’t have him fading before the New Years ball drops.

Best case scenario for Hull would be to nick a goal early and then sit back, defend and pray they can at least steal a point. All signs point to the Blues taking all spoils, however.

No. 2: Arsenal vs Newcastle at Emirates Stadium

When: Saturday at 10:30am on NBC Sports Network

Last year: Stroll in the park last April for Arsenal against Newcastle. Three goals, a clean sheet and three points for the Gunners at the Emirates.

Arsenal enter a crucial two-week stretch here where they play Newcastle at home and Liverpool at Anfield next Sunday. And they will do so with one healthy half-back. Good times!

Arsene Wenger is going to have to get creative Saturday against a Newcastle team that has shockingly won seven out of their last nine games. Seriously. How has this happened? Newcastle fans were on the verge of burning their stadium down and kidnapping Alan Pardew and now they just knocked off Chelsea and sit level on points with Arsenal in 6th place.

Speaking of Alan Pardew, he had a troll-job on par with the Target Center this week. The group of Arsenal fans that somehow think they are better than the ‘finish top-4/make Round of 16 in Champions League’ plateau they have settled on and want Wenger to be fired have never been louder. So what does Pardew say? He backs Wenger and says they should name the bleeping stadium after him. I love it. And don’t really disagree with him either.

But don’t expect Newcastle to cruise to victory just because Wenger is going to have to play some defenders out of position. Jak ‘I am too cool for the letter C’ Alnwick is making his first ever Premier League start in goal. Poor dude doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page. I wanted to look up some obscure fact about him to make fun of him but he doesn’t even have a Wiki. Pretty sure even Rand has a Wikipedia page (editor’s note: Nope, but that is something we would like for Christmas). So that’s why I ripped him for the spelling of his name. I am versatile like that.

Traditionally, Newcastle have just been dreadful against Arsenal with only two wins in the last decade against the Gunners. Plenty of factors working against both teams so a draw is a likely result but I’ll give Arsenal the home-nod to take all three points.

No. 1: Manchester United vs Liverpool at Old Trafford

When: Saturday at 6:30am on NBC Sports Network

Last year: Liverpool beat United 3-0 at Old Trafford last March in a match full of controversy (shocking, given the two teams). Steven Gerrard bagged a brace the only way he can these days — with a pair of penalties. He had a chance to complete the penalty hatty but missed. Luis Suarez got the third in the 84th minute. The ‘Moyes Out’ movement picked up plenty of steam that afternoon.

Alright, you ready? Lets spin the WHEEL…OF…RIVALRY CLICHES!!!!

***Click, Click, Click, Click, Click, Click, Click, Click, Click, Click***

And it lands on….YOU CAN THROW THE RECORD BOOK OUT THE WINDOW WHEN THESE TWO PLAY!

Dang. I had my heart set on ‘You wanna talk about two teams that don’t like each other?’

But all jokes aside, you can throw the record book when Manchester United and Liverpool play because these are two teams that don’t like each other.

Liverpool really Liverpool’d themselves on Tuesday when they got knocked out of Champions League at home by Basel. All they had to do was beat Basel at Anfield. Instead they fall behind by a goal, have a sub get sent off after 15 minutes and fail to capitalize on a Steven Gerrard equalizer for the ages. Now they have to trudge through the Europa League and the seemingly 87 matches in weird stadiums that go along with it. They can’t just sluff it off, either, because the winner of the competition now earns a spot in next year’s Champions League. And, lets be honest, that is probably their best shot at qualifying at this point.

United, on the other hand, have put themselves in great shape to land one of the coveted top four spots. They looked like burning dog dung on Monday against Southampton but still managed to get a 2-1 win. That is the type of thing that United failed (horribly) to do under David Moyes. Earning points even when they play horribly. It is what the good teams do. But they will actually need to put together some good performances and win games comfortably if they are to reclaim what they believe to be their rightful place in Europe.

It’s funny, these two sides have basically flipped spots in just one year. Last season, it was Manchester United falling out of top four contention and having a miserable season while Liverpool was charging up the table to reclaim a Champions League spot. Now, Liverpool, a year after finishing second find themselves in 9th almost midway through the season. And United, after finishing seventh last year sit in 3rd right now. Flippy-floppy!

Not expecting a lot of fireworks in this one. Wouldn’t be surprised if there were more red cards than goals. I say it will be 1-0 to the home side.

Alright, companions. That’ll do ‘er for this week. Enjoy the matches and don’t be afraid to go outside and fire up the grill during this unseasonably warm weather.

Until next week, keep your balls chipped and your runs to the far post.

Friday (Our last-minute application to be Badgers football coach) edition: Wha' happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated December 12th at 10:05am 285616231

barry alvarezBy all accounts, former Wisconsin assistant Paul Chryst is on the verge of returning to the school as the head football coach, quickly filling a vacancy that opened earlier this week when two-year coach Gary Andersen bolted for Oregon State.

But before Barry Alvarez makes a hasty decision, we wanted to suggest one other candidate: Us.

We were browsing the official application for the Wisconsin head coaching job, and it sounds as though we could be — as Alvarez calls it — a good fit.

Here are some of the highlights:

Qualifications: 

Bachelor’s degree required. Boom! University of Minnesota, Class of 1999, five great years. Keeping it in the Big Ten.

Minimum of 5 years of successful collegiate football coaching experience preferred. Division I head coaching experience is also preferred.Division I head coaching experience is also preferred. Preferred, yes, but not required. That’s fair, and that doesn’t take us out of the running. It seems as though Alvarez and Wisconsin know that it’s not fair to exclude newbies. How can you become a college football coach if you’ve never had experience … but how can you get experience if you’ve never been a college football coach? Chicken and egg.

Other qualifications include the ability to work cooperatively with diverse groups and administrators, faculty, staff and students. If the Star Tribune newsroom hasn’t prepared us for this, it hasn’t prepared us for anything.

The successful applicant must be able to develop and implement innovative approaches and solutions; work well independently and in teams; and be flexible in accepting new responsibilities. We’re not sure if Alvarez read yesterday’s guest post, but this blog has been around for eight years now. Innovative? You bet. Do we work independently? Sure! Do we collaborate? Of course! New responsibilities? Always adding something new! And that’s just a fraction of what we do at work.

Conditions of Appointment:

This is a Limited appointment. Salary will be assigned within the appropriate range, commensurate with the candidate’s qualifications and experience. An excellent benefits packageis also included. Anticipated start date on or after December 17, 2014

We’re totally flexible here, and we can assure you that the staff we would assemble — mostly RandBall commenters, lets be honest — won’t grouse about salaries. A full 60 percent would probably work for beer and chicken wings. One guy for sure would work solely for Replacements bootlegs. We have a vacation planned during national signing day, but we’d be willing to fly in for the news conference if necessary.

In any event, we hope Alvarez will give it some thought before rushing into anything with Chryst. He’s a fine candidate, but we’re not sure what he brings to the table that we don’t.

TFD: Ex-Twins pitcher Juan Berenguer files lawsuit alleging violation of privacy

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated December 11th at 10:38pm 285549501

Former Twins pitcher Juan Berenguer has joined a growing contingent suing local entities — many of which are law-enforcement agencies — for what they say is a misuse of the state’s drivers license database.

In a suit filed this week in U.S. District Court, it is alleged that “personnel from various entities in Minnesota illegally obtained Berenguer’s private, personal and confidential driver’s license information without a legitimate or permissible law-enforcement purpose or any other lawful purpose.” The suit says his private information was viewed more than 125 times between 2005 and 2011, in violation of the federal Driver’s Privacy Protection Act.

More than 35 entities, including the City of Minneapolis, are listed as defendants on the suit.

Berenguer (pictured in a 2006 Star Tribune file photo)berenguer, who played on the 1987 World Series team with the Twins and remained in the Twin Cities after his playing career ended, is represented by Jonathan Strauss from Sapientia Law Group PLLC, which is representing more than 30 other people who have filed similar claims. Many plaintiffs in similar cases “are women and include former police officers, TV news readers, and ex-partners of public employees,” as noted in this February Star Tribune story.

“People were looking him up because they’re interested in him as a former Minnesota Twin,” Strauss said in a phone interview Thursday, noting that he believes Berenguer is the first plaintiff in these cases who is an athlete or former athlete. “He’s (also) had incidents of police following him for no reason, and he’s really angry about it.”

The last part of that quote from Strauss is in reference to a part of the suit that reads:

“On several occasions over the last decade, Berenguer has been followed by sheriff’s deputies from Carver County in their patrol cars. … In each of these instances, Berenguer was not pulled over or stopped by the law enforcement. These are examples of law enforcement having special interest in Berenguer as a local celebrity, not because he has violated any laws or needed law-enforcement assistance.” The suit says this made Berenguer feel “like a prisoner in his own home.”

The lawsuit seeks multiple forms of financial damages, including “at least $2,500″ for each of the more than 125 alleged violations of the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act.

Strauss said he anticipated the next move will come from the defense, which will attempt to have the case dismissed.

“We’ll see what the judge says,” Strauss said. “We think (Berenguer) has a very strong claim.”

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Buffalo 12/28/14 12:00 PM
New England
Cleveland 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Dallas 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Washington
Indianapolis 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Jacksonville 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Chicago 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 12/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Carolina 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Atlanta
Detroit 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Oakland 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Denver
Arizona 12/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Cincinnati 12/28/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Brooklyn 109 FINAL
Boston 107
Cleveland 6:00 PM
Orlando
Indiana 6:30 PM
Detroit
Milwaukee 6:30 PM
Atlanta
Houston 7:00 PM
Memphis
San Antonio 7:00 PM
New Orleans
Charlotte 7:00 PM
Oklahoma City
LA Lakers 7:30 PM
Dallas
Minnesota 8:00 PM
Denver
Philadelphia 9:00 PM
Portland
Phoenix 9:00 PM
Sacramento
Illinois 18 FINAL 0:00
Louisiana Tech 35
Rutgers 23 3rd Qtr 12:47
North Carolina 0
NC State 7:00 PM
UCF
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
(15) Arizona State 12/27/14 1:10 PM
Duke
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 2:30 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Texas
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
Stanford
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
(19) Auburn 1/1/15 11:00 AM
(17) Wisconsin
(7) Michigan State 1/1/15 11:30 AM
(4) Baylor
(16) Missouri 1/1/15 12:00 PM
Minnesota
(2) Florida State 1/1/15 4:00 PM
(3) Oregon
(5) Ohio State 1/1/15 7:30 PM
(1) Alabama
Houston 1/2/15 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Iowa 1/2/15 2:20 PM
Tennessee
(11) Kansas State 1/2/15 5:45 PM
(14) UCLA
Washington 1/2/15 9:15 PM
Oklahoma State

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