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Michael Rand

Digital sports editor |
Phone: 612-673-7564
Location: Minneapolis
Other languages: None

Michael Rand is the Star Tribune's Digital Sports Senior Writer. In 20 years covering Minnesota sports at the Star Tribune, he has seen just about everything.

Rand is a North Dakota native and a graduate of the University of Minnesota. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife and two daughters.
Recent content from Michael Rand
If Gophers coach Lindsay Whalen was making a point about points on Sunday, she succeeded. Her team produced 97 in an easy victory.

U women's basketball victory looks good through the eyes of a child

Michael Rand's 4-year-old was a big fan of winning, a bigger fan of the pink uniforms the Gophers wore Sunday and the biggest fan of Goldy Gopher.
Wolves, Clippers coaches reminisce about Flip Saunders

Wolves, Clippers coaches reminisce about Flip Saunders

It was another milestone Monday for Timberwolves interim coach Ryan Saunders, who coached against one of his father's best friends at Target Center.
The pitch clock, looming over Rochester’s Alex Meyer during a 2015 Class AAA game, shortens games but doesn’t make their length predictable.

Page Two: Remedies to shorten Major League Baseball games hardly seem viable

Major League Baseball, in a proper and dutiful quest to work on the related (but not identical) problems of pace of play and length of…
The Star Tribune reported that the Wolves unsuccessfully tried to trade Jeff Teague, left, and Gorgui Dieng and their large contracts at the deadline.

Timberwolves shut out at trade table and on road

The Wolves will already have close to $110 million committed to next year's salary cap — more than $100 million of which is devoted to only five players — if Jeff Teague exercises his $19 million player option for 2019-20.
Lynx forward Maya Moore looked for an opening in the team’s Aug. 21 playoff loss at Los Angeles. That will be her final WNBA game for some time.

Breaking it down: Moore's numbers slipped during 2018

Advanced numbers can provide some insights into Maya Moore's greatness, and the extent that she slipped in 2018.
Andrew Wiggins is averaging 19.3 points in 12 Wolves games under Ryan Saunders, but that includes four games of scoring 12 points or less.
The Minneso

As always, looking for more from Andrew Wiggins

The excellent author Nassim Nicholas Taleb has a resonant expression in which he warns against walking across a river that is, on average, 4 feet…
Michael Rand made a few (hypothetical) prop bets on Super Bowl LIII. Here's how he did.

Super Bowl prop bets: For entertainment purposes only

Intrepid reporter Michael Rand made a few (hypothetical) prop bets on Super Bowl LIII. Here's how he did:
The Twins didn’t call up Byron Buxton in September, which might have been done to get another season of arbitration-eligibility out of him.

Twins not the only ones saving and not spending

MLB teams spend less than 50 percent of their revenue on payroll.
Michael O’Malley of Los Angeles showed his displeasure with the cold weather as he posed before entering U.S. Bank Stadium for Super Bowl LII last y

Believe it or not, we could have given Super Bowl fans a warmer reception this year

The arrival of swear-at-the-sky cold temperatures this week juxtaposed with the scheduling of the Super Bowl has led countless Minnesotans to gaze wistfully into the…
What outfielder Eddie Rosario produces will play a role in whether the 2019 Twins will be in position for a midseason spending spree.

Pay now or later? Twins' financial strategy sound (and raises questions)

The team's payroll figures to swell in coming years if all the core players it desperately wants to become stars actually achieve that status.
Gary Kubiak’s NFL coaching record shows his offenses are run-friendly.

What does Kubiak's hiring give Zimmer? More options and a run-loving ally on staff

Michael Rand and Chip Scoggins weigh in on the Vikings offseason.
Cowboys receiver Drew Pearson caught what eventually became known as a ‘‘Hail Mary Pass’’ on his left hip after pushing the Vikings’ Nate Wr

Let's right some wrongs of Minnesota sports injustices

If you could file a lawsuit to overturn the outcome of ONE specific injustice in ONE game in Minnesota sports history, what would it be?
Saints linebacker Craig Robertson (52) left the field after losing in overtime in the NFC Championship Game against the Rams on Sunday.

Admit it, Vikings fans: You kind of enjoyed the way the Saints lost

Any NFL season that advances far enough that the Vikings are no longer playing while others still are — so basically, every season in almost…
New Wild center Victor Rask was acquired from Carolina for winger Nito Niederreiter in a move that might have more long-term than short-term benefits.

Look at the long view on why the Wild traded Nino Niederreiter for Victor Rask

GM Paul Fenton is and should be keeping at least one eye on 2019-20 and beyond.
Lovable catcher/utility player Willians Astudillo made a lot fans last season in his late call-up by the Twins.

Opinions differ on fan-favorite Astudillo making Twins roster

North Score: Twins beat reporter La Velle E. Neal III and Michael Rand take a look at the case to be made for Willians Astudillo to make the Twins' roster out of spring training.
Coach Lindsay Whalen’s Gophers got off to a 12-0 start but are 0-4 since. Those alarmed should relax. She eventually succeeds big based on her past.

Lindsay Whalen knows how to turn things around

The prevailing wisdom in Minnesota is that everything Lindsay Whalen touches turns to gold, and there is ample evidence to support this notion.She carried the…
Timberwolves interim head coach Ryan Saunders has given a lot of meaningful minutes to point guard Tyus Jones, notably late in close games.

In three games, Wolves' Saunders offers glimpse of his coaching style

Ryan Saunders figures to be far more flexible with his rotation and playing guys for short bursts as he sees fit. Will Tyus Jones keep playing a bigger role?
For better or worse, the Wild’s success depends on Devan Dubnyk’s play.

North Score: Who's the Wild's most important player?

A Sunday debate with Michael Rand and Sarah McLellan.
John Sullivan, left, and Phil Loadholt anchored a very effective Vikings offensive line in 2012 and 2013, helping RB Adrian Peterson to an MVP season.

Fixing Vikings offense has to start with the guys up front

Vikings fans have spent plenty of energy in recent days consumed by the question of who the team's offensive coordinator will be in 2019.It's an…
Tom Thibodeau gave Andrew Wiggins a four-year, max $148 million contract extension. Can Ryan Saunders make him worth it?

Wolves will have a new way of doing business

To understand the sequence of events that led to the departure of Tom Thibodeau and to sort out what we might expect from interim head…
Ryan Saunders was named Timberwolves interim head coach after Tom Thibodeau’s firing Sunday and will be given a chance to prove he deserves the job

Who will be the next coach of the Timberwolves?

The Timberwolves made a stunning move Sunday when they fired head coach and president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau. Here's a look at candidates who might replace Thibodeau permanently:
Wild players celebrated Saturday during a victory over Ottawa (left), and the Wolves and Karl-Anthony Towns had good moments Sunday against the Lakers

Wolves, Wild are at crossroads

Fans of both organizations should hope for one extreme or the other for the rest of the winter — either a hot streak that provides hope or a freezing cold stretch that triggers lasting change.
Twins fans are waiting on Byron Buxton, among others.

Top 10 story lines to watch for in Minnesota sports in 2019

Change, welcome or not, is just ahead.
After 15 years Minnesota took back the Paul Bunyan’s Axe after they defeated Wisconsin 37-15 at Camp Randall Stadium

Top 10 Minnesota sports stories of 2018

From arrivals to departures, and golf to miracles - a look back at Minnesota moments from the past year.
A 6-6 record got Gophers coach P.J. Fleck a bowl game and extra practice time. But how much value does that provide a college football program?

How much of an edge will the Gophers get by making it to a bowl?

North Score: Michael Rand and Gophers beat reporter Randy Johnson debate and discuss the possible added value to the Gophers program by its presence in Wednesday's Quick Lane Bowl.
The Vikings built a special space into their new TCO Performance Center, and it’s being cited as an indication they are open to modern analytics.

NFL is beginning to go deep on data

The Ringer's Kevin Clark wrote recently (and interestingly) that the NFL appears to be in the early stages of an analytics revolution — much like…
Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins

RandBall: Cousins' telegraphed pick-six leaves a mark

Vikings Qb Kirk Cousins is at his best when he plays both instinctively and deceptively. He's at his worst when he plays like a quarterback robot
Wolves center Karl-Anthony Towns took a shot Wednesday against the Kings. Minnesota is 0-10 on the road vs. Western Conference teams this season. )

Wolves winless on road vs. West because of defense, rebounding woes

The latest Timberwolves road trip out West hasn't quite taken on the horror show feel of the last one, which ended 0-5 and resulted in…
Mike Zimmer said he will be paying more attention to the offense now, but the offense starting struggling when he started asking for more runs.

Mike Zimmer's insistence on more runs may have ground Vikings' offense

In firing offensive coordinator John DeFilippo on Tuesday, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer made a seemingly obvious decision.DeFilippo's offense had sputtered so badly Monday against Seattle,…
Four high-profile local teams are on the postseason fringes at various stages of their seasons: the Vikings, Wild, Timberwolves and Gophers men’s ba

Assessing (and perhaps obsessing over) playoff chances for Vikings, Wild, Wolves and Gophers

Four high-profile local teams are on the postseason fringes at various stages of their seasons: the Vikings, Wild, Timberwolves and Gophers men's basketball.
Michael Pineda spent his first season as a Twin rehabbing from surgery.

Sano, Buxton steal Twins headlines, but Pineda's role for '19 could be big

North Score: Michael Rand and Twins beat writer Phil Miller tackle one of the many mysteries entering the team's 2019 campaign: What role will Micheal Pineda play?
Vikings kicker Blair Walsh missed a 27-yard kick late in the fourth quarter of a 10-9 loss to Seattle in a first-round playoff game on Jan. 10, 2016.

Kicking football through uprights remains challenging for Vikings

There was a time, if you can believe it, that the Vikings enjoyed above-average, drama-free placekicking. Ryan Longwell started that path in 2006. Blair Walsh…
The Packers sent Mike McCarthy to the exit Sunday after a bad loss. McCarthy leaves behind a quarterback who can still play and a job that will be sou

In an NFC North that had it rough Sunday, Packers led the roughed-up pack

In an NFC North that had it rough Sunday, Packers led the roughed-up pack
Vikings kicker Dan Bailey (5) missed a 48-yard field goal Sunday, reminiscent of the kicker before him and the kicker before that one.

Vikings see familiar failures play out in loss to Patriots

Except for a burst late in the second quarter and early in the third quarter, the Vikings were overmatched Sunday in New England — with all of their predictable old faults on display.
The Gophers, including Adanna Rollins, Regan Pittman and Stephanie Samedy, work hard to use advanced data to get an edge in the game.

NCAA-bound Gophers volleyball driven by data

North Score: Gophers coaches work to blend analytics with the game's art and science. "We're doing it at as high a level as anyone else," first-year assistant coach Jennifer Bolduc said.
After residing in Madison since 2004, Paul Bunyan’s Axe is returning to Minnesota. The Gophers’ challenge is to build on Saturday’s rivalry vict

After taking back the Axe, what comes next for the Gophers?

It's funny how a leave-no-doubt victory over a big brother-esque rival can make everyone feel better about things. But beating Wisconsin wasn't just about building something.
Wolves center Karl-Anthony Towns and former teammate Jimmy Butler have exchanged a few verbal jabs in the media over sensitivity to criticism.

Ex-teammates Towns, Butler continue mutual criticism

Circle Jan. 15 and March 30 on your calendars. Those are the Wolves' games against the 76ers this season (at Philadelphia first, at Target Center second).
The old guy up there — Zach Parise, testing Capitals goaltender Pheonix Copley on Tuesday — and players like him are among reasons the Wild is suc

Explaining the Wild's run of success

North Score: The Wild entered Wednesday with the third-best points percentage in the NHL. Let's look at three reasons the team has been successful.
Jimmy Butler responded to a question during his introductory news conference Tuesday at the Philadelphia 76ers' practice facility in Camden, N.J.

Butler can win news conferences, but can he win over teammates?

Stop me if you've heard this before, but Butler made a strong first impression on his new fan base in Philadelphia.
Joe Mauer took a deep breath as he walked to his seat for his retirement news conference Monday.

It's time to dispel some myths about Joe Mauer

Joe Mauer officially retired from baseball Monday after 15 MLB seasons — all with the Twins, of course. The debate over Mauer's legacy, and particularly…
The Vikings adjusted Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford’s posture to horizontal from vertical in the second quarter Sunday. Stephen Weatherly got th

Reporter's posture is the least of Matt Patricia's worries

These are the kinds of things that quickly become forgotten footnotes when a team is successful. The Lions haven't been very successful this season.
New Twins manager Rocco Baldelli, right, is used to working under tight financial constraints, coming from the Rays organization.

Look at Tampa Bay for clues to what Baldelli might do

New Twins manager Rocco Baldelli, 37, was drafted by the Rays in 2000 and has spent all but one year since in the organization in a variety of roles.
Few might have seen it coming, but Jonas Brodin’s empty-net goal Saturday night gave the Wild five victories in a row.

Wild is far from irrelevant after five-game winning streak

These past five games have stood in stark contrast, at least results-wise, to the 1-2-2 start to the year that caused many of us to conclude this would be a long season.
Vikings running back Latavius Murray scored on a two-point conversion over Los Angeles Rams cornerback Marcus Peters in third quarter at the L.A. Memo

Should NFL teams go for two-point conversions more often?

Given the new rules that seem to favor offenses and the not-so-sure-thing of a 33-yard extra point, should teams be going for two even more regardless of the score?
New Twins manager Rocco Baldelli

Friends and family agree: Baldelli is MLB's first hipster manager

As the Twins went through the interview process, they appreciated Rocco Baldelli's interests outside baseball. They include Phish concerts.
Vikings fan Gina Smith returned to the parking lot outside MetLife Stadium Sunday to find her rental car burnt to a crisp. The damage appeared to be c

Vikings fan's car burnt to a crisp in MetLife Stadium parking lot

Much was made nine months ago about the awful treatment Vikings fans endured from Eagles fans during the 38-7 NFC title game loss in Philadelphia.To…
The best way to compete consistently in MLB — which unlike the NHL, NFL and NBA doesn’t even attempt to have a salary cap — is to spend big.

The dollar is strong in MLB, World Series pairing indicates

The World Series begins Tuesday, and we have the Red Sox (No. 1 in payroll according to against the Dodgers (No. 3) — an accurate reflection of the inequality that exists in the sport.
Jeff Teague gets around the defense of Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon during a preseason game earlier this month.

Believe it: Wolves have offense to fall back on

North Score: the Wolves had one of the best offenses in the NBA a year ago, finishing fourth in efficiency. How in the world did they do that when they finished dead last in both three-pointers made and attempted?
Andrew Wiggins' five-year, $148 million extension with the Wolves kicks in this season.

Will Wiggins ever become the player Wolves hoped he would be?

Andrew Wiggins has shown he can score but hasn't shown much else.
A touchdown celebration dance by Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins — inspired, he said, by Adam Thielen — had Twitter howling.

There's that Purple blueprint emerging

Unfortunately, the other part of the expected blueprint — in addition to a dominant defense and strong offense with balance — was a questionable offensive line.
Jimmy Butler against the Pistons last year.

The week that was with Jimmy Butler

In case you somehow missed some or all of the Jimmy Butler drama last week, here's a recap of what happened and where it stands.
Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins probably didn’t realize he was salvaging the weekend for fans of Minnesota sports.
walked off the field at the end

Vikings provide silver lining on otherwise lost weekend

It sure felt like it was going to be one of THOSE weekends in Minnesota sports, didn’t it? The Wolves were listless and discombobulated; the…
Paul Molitor won’t have a chance to chat with catcher Mitch Garver on the mound next season after being fired Tuesday.

Don't blame analytics for the firing of Twins manager Paul Molitor

Molitor's Twins were one of the league's most forward-thinking teams.
If this was Joe Mauer's final season, the Twins don't have a clear-cut replacement for him as the face of the franchise.

Who will be the face of the franchise when Mauer's gone?

In looking ahead to a potentially Mauer-less 2019 season, this much is obvious: The Twins do not have someone ready to take his place in that role.
Maybe Vikings fans Dan Thomas and Tony Pike take some solace in knowing the Packers lost Sunday, too.

'Couldn't go worse!' Vikings season could get ugly fast

Weekend takeaways from Michael Rand, including thoughts on a Vikings blowout loss.
Just two games into his first season with the Vikings, franchise quarterback Kirk Cousins already has made several $84 million throws.

Talker: Vikings 'stacked at all positions'

If you want to predict the future, the past is a good place to start.So try this: The 2009 Vikings went 12-4 and made it…
Let’s assume Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins wasn’t saying goodbye when he patted receiver Laquon Treadwell in the fourth quarter. Twitter users

Vikings' tie is quite a ride on Twitter

There are bound to be moments of overreaction during the course of an NFL game, but Sunday's twists and turns brought things to new levels
Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers talked to Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky after Sunday night’s collapse. The Bears led 17-0 at halftime before Rodge

Bears defied odds by losing game to Packers

There are two sides to every improbable dramatic victory. There is the winning team, which gets all the glory and about 80-90 percent of the…
Coach Mike Zimmer counts on his defense solving problems, and it did when it forced a fumble in the second quarter. ile on the goal line in the 2nd qu

Zimmer still trusts his defense, Week 1 shows

Coach Mike Zimmer made his living and reputation — not to mention won a lot of games — by trusting his defense above all else.
Clockwise, from top left, the Vikings’ Kirk Cousins and Stefon Diggs, the Lynx’s Maya Moore and the Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns were the to

State has plenty of stars but no superstars

As a thought exercise Wednesday, I asked a simple question on Twitter: Who is the biggest star in Minnesota pro sports right now?While Twitter is…
ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser says Kirk Cousins has more pressure on him than any other pro athlete in a major sport in the U.S.

Tony Kornheiser says Kirk Cousins faces more pressure than any other pro athlete in America

Are you ready for some football? No, really. Can you handle this NFL season and all that it entails? You hesitated. Let's get to it,…
The Twins’ decision to not call up center fielder Byron Buxton in a season of injury and frustration has drawn intense scrutiny and criticism. But t

Numbers support Twins decision on Buxton's non call-up

North Score: There is evidence that Byron Buxton has not earned a promotion — nor would him coming up and succeeding for a few weeks prove anything about his readiness for 2019.
Quarterback Kirk Cousins might be the highest-paid Viking, but the team’s financial commitments in 2018 favor the defense. Six of the eight highest-

Vikings have invested heavily in their defense

An evaluation of their salary cap indicates the Vikings have threaded the needle — at least for now — by upgrading with more stability at quarterback while also still committing heavily to their defense.
One of the things the Twins learned this season: The franchise will go nowhere without major contributions from Miguel Sano, left, and Byron Buxton.

Twins reveal plenty even amid failure

The 2018 Twins season has largely been a disappointment, but even in disappointment (or perhaps especially so) there are things to be learned.
There were an average of 14,000 fewer tickets scanned per home U football game in 2017 than the announced attendance.

Attendance numbers can be deceiving

The Star Tribune's Rachel Blount gave an important look at the challenges facing the Gophers athletic department recently with her detailed story on budget woes…
Kirk Cousins hoped to be a Viking all along, as proved in a segment of ‘‘NFL Life’’ that showed his free agency path.

Video provides a glimpse behind the free agency of Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins

It's been almost six months since Kirk Cousins signed with the Vikings in free agency, so when a 14-minute "NFL Life" video on Cousins' path…
Signing Ryan Longwell away from the Packers in 2006 was one of the best moves former Vikings coach Brad Childress ever made. Longwell ended up kicking

Vikings could use another kicker like Ryan Longwell

The Brad Childress Era as Vikings coach will be remembered for many things, but one underrated strong move Childress made came at the outset of…
Twins starter Kohl Stewart was pulled in the fifth inning by manager Paul Molitor during Thursday's game against Oakland. The Twins' starters and reli

RandBall: Five thoughts from the weekend in sports

The mediocrity that has been the 2018 Twins has really been a complete team effort.
Wild GM Paul Fenton hasn’t made any big trades since being hired by owner Craig Leipold this summer. Shari L. Gross ï T

Wild GM Paul Fenton taking his time

When the Wild hired General Manager Paul Fenton as Chuck Fletcher's replacement three months ago, there was an assumption that significant roster moves would follow…
Lynx forward Maya Moore shot 42.3 percent from the field and 83 percent from the free-throw line this season, three percentage points off her career a

Lynx star Maya Moore was less this season

The dominant story line at the end of this Lynx season — and rightfully so — has centered around the retirement of all-time great Lindsay…
Ervin Santana had two awful seasons and two strong ones for the Twins, going 7-5 with a 4.00 ERA in 2015 after being suspended for half the year, 7-11

Ervin Santana's roller-coaster Twins career was worth the ride

Ervin Santana's Twins career appears to be over, and if so it looks like this: Hideous, ugly bookends on an otherwise nice shelf.It started about…
The Wolves and Wild seasons are just around the corner. Some pundits believe this will be Jimmy Butler’s, left, last season as a Timberwolf. Butler

It's not too early to start thinking Wolves, Wild

With the Wild scheduled to open Oct. 4 and the Wolves beginning Oct. 17 — points that will be here sooner than we think, not to mention the even sooner arrival of training camps — both appear set to run it back in 2018-19 with rosters that made the playoffs but quickly faded a year ago.
Mike Hughes, a first-round pick, should be an asset for the already-talented Vikings defense.

Two views: Can Vikings sustain NFL's top D (and does it matter)?

Michael Rand and Chris Hine discuss the state of the Vikings defense as the 2018 season approaches.
Assistant offensive line coach Andrew Janocko — and Kirk Cousins (8), far right — watched two linemen battle.

Offensive line remains Vikings' biggest concern

The latest edition of the Access Vikings podcast — at least a few minutes of it — is basically Part 17 of me yelling my…
Vikings wide receiver Laquon Treadwell is covered by the Jaguars' A.J. Bouye on Wednesday in Eagan during the teams' joint practice.

No drama: Vikings-Jaguars joint practice goes exactly as planned

Players from the Vikings and Jaguars met before the start of the joint practice to make sure both sides agreed on what everyone hoped to get out of the practices.
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