Staff Directory 10645736

Michael Rand

Digital sports editor | StarTribune.com
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
Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) celebrated with his teammates after he scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter Sunday.

Has Vikings' offense surpassed the defense?

Better balance has been the difference between the two units so far.
Tommy Kramer had an up-and-down career with the Vikings, going 54-56 as a starter with 159 TD passes and 158 interceptions.

Kirk Cousins did it just like Tommy Kramer

Kirk Cousins authored one of the greatest comebacks in Vikings history Sunday, rallying Minnesota from a 20-0 halftime deficit in a 27-23 victory.I called up…
Center Nathan MacKinnon leads the Avalanche with 13 goals and 29 points this season.

Five things to watch for this week

A quick look at the week ahead.
Jake Odorizzi is coming off his best major league season, winning 15 games for the Twins in 2019.

Should Jake Odorizzi second-guess returning to Twins?

Was it a strange decision, or is he making the best of a bad situation?
Gophers stormed the TCF Bank Stadium field after the 31-26 upset of No. 4 Penn State on Sunday.

Minnesota fans get a taste of back-to-back bliss

Have you recovered yet from the rigors of watching two of the most dramatic big Minnesota football games in recent memory, played on back-to-back days?Gophers…
Minnesota Gophers head coach P.J. Fleck led the team onto the field before Saturday's game against the Penn State Nittany Lions.

U football, Andrew Wiggins: Can this weekend be bottled?

On a list of things Minnesota sports fans have come to believe are lost causes, two stand out: Gophers football and Andrew Wiggins.
The Gophers are one of seven undefeated teams competing for the College Football Playoff, but they rank behind six teams with two losses.

Gophers have no losses, but get no respect from the CFP

The initial College Football Playoff ranking was released between games of ESPN's college basketball kickoff doubleheader Tuesday night (synergy!), and two things are true about…
Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns was led away after an altercation with 76ers center Joel Embiid during the second half Wednesday. Both players

'I'm going to defend myself,' Towns says upon return from suspension

The Wolves went 1-1 while Towns was suspended two games for his fight with Joel Embiid.
Kirk Cousins has a 114.7 passer ratings in wins and a 81.6 mark in losses, with the 33.1-point gap the fifth largest among top-20 passers in history.

There's no in-between when it comes to Kirk Cousins and the Vikings

The calendar changed to November, we set the clocks back and now the sky — like the leaves — is falling.The Vikings in September were…
Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins yelled over a loud Kansas City crowd to call a play in the fourth quarter, when a chance for heroics was missed.

Dramatic moments tell a tale about Cousins and Rodgers

The Packers last week seized the opportunity against a weakened Kansas City team. The Vikings wilted. It goes beyond Aaron Rodgers and Kirk Cousins, but this truth is inescapable.
Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter (99) celebrated after a sack vs. the Redskins last Thursday. Offensive players also have had a lot of reasons to

Randball: Vikings can win with defense or offense this season

While many marveled at the spectacle of the Rams' 54-51 victory over the Chiefs during the 2018 regular season, it was enough to make a…
When Ryan Leaf guest hosted Rich Eisen’s show earlier in October, he sported a bright-gold Gophers shirt and had coach P.J. Fleck on to discuss his

Talker: Ryan Leaf was 'first one on the boat'

In the up-and-down life and career of Ryan Leaf, there have been greater claims to fame, but make no mistake the former Washington State star…
Gophers jubilation reigned after Coney Durr (the one getting his back slapped) contributed a pick-six Saturday to a season of uninterrupted success.

Gophers or Vikings for most victories? How about both?

Both teams are sprinting towards double-digit victories.
Goalie Devan Dubnyk, above against Montreal last Sunday, and Alex Stalock, his backup, both have “quality starts” for the Wild in just under 60% o

Answering three burning questions: Wild goalies, the Wolves' efficiency and Cousins' statistics

Dubnyk vs. Stalock, Wolves' efficiency and Cousins' stats.
The Astros celebrated in the locker room Saturday night after eliminating the Yankees in Game 6 and advancing to the World Series.

Astros making big mistake by providing cover for executive's inexcusable behavior

Team covers for assistant GM's awful behavior.
Sebastian Lletget, left, of LA Galaxy celebrated after scoring a goal in the second half Sunday in its 2-1 victory over the Loons.

Loons the latest Minnesota team to have its weaknesses show up in playoffs

When a team is good enough to make the playoffs but flawed enough to create doubts — which describes pretty much every high-profile Minnesota pro…
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer — and everybody else for that matter — has seen a different Kirk Cousins since a Week 4 loss at Chicago.
The Minnesota V

Tweeters seem to be adding fuel to Kirk Cousins' fire

Following the low-point loss at Chicago, Kirk Cousins admitted he was motivated to play with more of an edge. Since, he's piled up 10 touchdowns, one interception and almost 1,000 yards passing.
Bold Words: Chuck Foreman and the Vikings shared the Metropolitan Stadium field with the Twins and the Kicks in the 1970’s.

Allianz Field's new grass will take center stage for a multi-sport weekend

It's a perfect storm of ingredients: In a very successful first season at Allianz Field, Minnesota United is set to host a Major League Soccer…
More than 18 penalties are being called per game this NFL season. Little wonder everyone’s complaining.

Referees should only throw penalties for the worst offenses

People have been complaining about how sports are officiated for as long as there have been sports. In the first footrace at the Olympic Games…
Oct. 14, 1965: Manager Sam Mele was arguing with home umpire Ed Hurley and the Twins were playing their latest outdoor home game in team history. It w

Outdoor Twins baseball in late October? We would all take our chances

Alternating between cursing at snowflakes and shivering at the whipping wind this past weekend sent me scurrying for an indoor-based activity: obsessing about what it…
Ecstasy and agony: Gophers and Vikings surge, while Wild struggles

Ecstasy and agony: Gophers and Vikings surge, while Wild struggles

You want meaningful football? You've got it. On the ice, however, this Wild season could go off the rails in a hurry.
Kirk Cousins bounced back from a bad game, as he often does, with a strong one Sunday against the Giants. Can he do it this week against Philly?

An edgy Kirk Cousins gives Vikings an edge

Kirk Cousins' radio show is the gift that keeps on giving, if only head coach Mike Zimmer would listen.A week after apologizing to receiver Adam…
New York Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman (54) was mobbed by teammates after the Yankees defeated the Twins 5-1 to sweep the series Monday night.

It was simple math: The Yankees were $94 millon better than the Twins

Over the next few days, you will read countless well-reasoned pieces on the Twins and what went wrong over the past three games. You will…
Kirk Cousins made his Vikings teammates targets — in a good way — against the New York Giants after extending another olive branch via his podcast

On heels of Vikings victory, Kirk Cousins' podcast apology is effective

Before Stefon Diggs stole the show as the biggest offensive subplot with the Vikings last week by missing time with a (cough) cold, declaring "there's…
Luis Arraez lunged for a popup and didn’t catch it Friday, revealing a flaw in the Twins’ plan. They had a healthier second baseman available.
2)

Twins lost big but had small improvements available

These three decisions by the Twins and manager Rocco Baldelli were fair to wonder about before they had negative consequences.
Kirk Cousins has fumbled six times this year and thrown two interceptions and just three touchdown passes.

Benching Kirk Cousins an unlikely option for Vikings

A wall of TVs playing various sports channels dominates a section of the media room at the Vikings' headquarters in Eagan. Upon arrival there around…
Mitch Garver and Nelson Cruz, speaking at a news conference Tuesday, helped lead the Twins to the second-most wins in franchise history. BACKGROUND IN

The Twins historic season is a national footnote as postseason gets underway

The Twins won 101 games (second-most in franchise history) and hit 307 home runs (most in MLB history) this season. In a lot of years,…
Kirk Cousins glanced at a scoreboard showing the Vikings on the losing side — something the quarterback has seen too often in recent history.

Vikings loss an encore presentation not worth watching

If you missed Sunday's Vikings loss in Chicago, don't worry. There's a good chance you've already seen the game before.
Iowa State tight end Charlie Kolar caught a pass between Iowa defenders Djimon Colbert, left, and Jack Koerner during the Hawkeyes’ 18-17 win on Sep

How far back can you go for Twitter accountability?

What was in the running for feel-good story of the year has turned into a complicated, layered mess that will make you evaluate everything about…
Analyst Tony Romo and lead play-by-play voice Jim Nantz will be broadcasting this Sunday’s Bears-Vikings game thanks to cross-flexing.

NFL telecasts keep evolving over the years

Longtime sports broadcaster Jim Nantz is known for many things, but perhaps his most recognizable line and assignment comes from his work with The Masters…
Once the Twins stopped giving Kansas City chances to win Sunday, they turned to another giveaway. After the game, the Twins signed their jerseys and g

Sunday's win over Royals shows again it's never easy for Twins

The Twins jumped to a 6-0 lead over Kansas City in the first inning, but (once again) Twins fans couldn't relax as their team careened to a 12-8 victory.
Receiver Tyler Johnson (6) and quarterback Tanner Morgan had that 3-0 look about them during the Gophers' victory over Georgia Southern.

Gophers are 3-0. But are they underrated or overrated?

The Gophers football team has a bye this weekend, giving us time to reflect on an interesting — to say the least — 3-0 start.
Jose Berrios is still the Twins best option to pitch Game 1 of a playoff series and go toe-to-toe with the other team’s ace.

Bullpen games might be solution for Twins' playoff rotation

The Michael Pineda suspension put the Twins in a real bind when it comes to their postseason rotation. Then again, the hallmarks of this 2019…
Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins fumbled the the ball in the second quarter, one play after fumbling but retaining possession when the Vikings recover

New Orleans Saints QB Teddy Bridgewater might turn the heat up on Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins even more

It was a week of attrition among NFL quarterbacks. Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger hurt his elbow and is out for the season. Drew Brees injured…
Kirk Cousins celebrated with Dalvin Cook after scoring on a quarterback sneak Sunday in the season opener. Cousins threw a career-low 10 passes Sunday

Vikings are OK with whatever it takes to win games

One of the better athlete clichés is some variation of "I don't care if I [blank] as long as we win."Those most directly responsible for…
The Lynx’s Danielle Robinson and Damiris Dantas, with the ball, will break the Minnesota teams playoff drought tonight when they face Seattle.

Lynx should just be the first of Minnesota teams to make the playoffs

Local Twitter personality @TweetsByCollin likes to bust my chops every time I write something positive about the Minnesota sports scene — particularly those rare occasions…
Both center fielder Max Kepler (shoulder) and right fielder Jake Cave (groin), himself an injury replacement, are hurting.

Playing dad can be as hazardous as playing outfield for the Minnesota Twins

Let's talk about all these Twins injuries and bat around the idea of calling up another phenom, sure.But first, can we talk about my "dad…
It turns out Viktor the Viking would have little to fret about while he wandered the sidelines ahead of Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons.

Vikings, Twins and Gophers did more than salvage the weekend

It felt like it might be one of those weekends, didn't it? Every Minnesota sports fan knows that when bad things happen, they have a tendency to snowball.
The Vikings, Packers and Bears are all projected to win between 8.6 and 8.8 games this season by ESPN. Outstanding, awful or injury-plagued seasons by

Vikings fans, take note: From seven to 13 wins a slim margin in unpredictable NFL

The law of averages suggests that outcomes tend to even out over time. But the law sure works better when applied to nearly infinite spans…

Wolves sign guard Lindell Wigginton

Signing gives Wolves additional backcourt depth.
Kirk Cousins is the Vikings’ most important player because he would be the hardest to replace, since he has no proven veteran backup.

The Vikings can't afford to have to replace these 10 guys

The Vikings' 53-man roster is more or less set, pending a tweak or two before Sunday's opener. But not every spot on the roster is…
After a very slow start to the season, Jake Cave hit .361 in August and is batting .268 overall with seven homers and 20 RBI in 149 at-bats.

It's time to take back those off-base tweets (Twins and Vikings edition)

Here's some advice to Minnesota sports fans: You might want to go back and search for some of your hot Twitter takes and delete them. Players have a way of making us eat our posts.
Nelson Cruz is one of eight Twins with 20 or more home runs this season. He's hit 34.

Twins' power is a treat to be savored

If your deepest association with the Twins comes from the run of success between 2002 and 2010, for instance, watching Minnesota batters blast balls over the fence with such regularity up and down the lineup seems flat-out wrong, even though it feels so right.
Byung Ho Park hit .191 with 12 home runs in 62 games for the Twins in 2016. He returned to Korea after spending the entire 2017 season at Class AAA.

Former Twin Byung Ho Park regains his star status in Korea

Even former Twins in different leagues are getting in on the home run parade in 2019.Remember Byung Ho Park? The Twins won exclusive negotiating rights…
Twins starter Michael Pineda was pulled after five innings Tuesday despite giving up only one run and four hits and striking out eight.

There's many reasons why pitchers are having shorter starts

Michael Pineda had completed five strong innings for the Twins on Tuesday, at which point Minnesota held a 2-1 lead over the Chicago White Sox.…
NFL players today — such as early retiree Andrew Luck — are more wealthy and aware of the sport’s health risks than they have ever been.

Luck's sudden retirement brings sadness yet freedon

Shock is the best word to describe Saturday's news from Indy.
New Wild General Manager Bill Guerin is coming from Pittsburgh, where they were ‘‘extremely big’’ on analytics.

Will new Minnesota Wild GM Bill Guerin be more analytics-friendly than his predecessor?

Near the end of his formal introduction as general manager, long after the Wild's new dog Breezer tried to upstage him, Bill Guerin was asked…
Minnesota teams have been led by (clockwise from upper left) a Baseball Hall of Famer in Paul Molitor, an NBA top-50 all-timer in Kevin McHale, an eig

Minnesota teams peppered with players who became team officials

Bill Guerin was named the fourth general manager in Wild history on Wednesday, and in the process he joined an impressive club: top executives or…
Bill Guerin, who played on three U.S. Olympic teams, put a hit on Germany’s Andreas Renz during the 2002 Salt Lake City Games.

'There's nobody like Billy G.' Five things to know about Bill Guerin

The 48-year-old has transitioned from a star college player to an NHL leader to a team executive. Not holding back about what he thinks is part of his personality.
Randall Cunningham took over for the injured Brad Johnson and had his best year ever in 1998. It ranked as the sixth-most fluky season by an NFL QB ev

Will Kirk Cousins be next quarterback to have best year of his career with Vikings?

We'll all emerge soon from "list" season — that gray zone in the NFL where things are happening, but not really happening, and to keep…
Illustration by Rafael Alvarez, Special to the Star Tribune

The day Brett Favre became a Minnesota Viking

Brett Favre descended from a clear blue Minnesota sky. An angel landing in a private jet, after years of playing the devil. Vikings fans, the media — shoot, the entire states of Minnesota and Wisconsin — lost their collective minds.
If Wild owner Craig Leipold can learn anything from general manager hires by the Wolves and Twins, it is this: The fastest way to look smart — and c

Wild can look to Twins and Wolves for new GM traits

Wild owner Craig Leipold needs to hire a new general manager who will make changing the culture a point of emphasis.
Jake Cave drove a ninth-inning, 3-0 pitch for a single. Controversy ensued.

North Score: Why don't we try writing down the 'unwritten rules'?

Are these unspoken agreements useful or would we be better off in general without them?
That was then, 2010, when Joe Mauer wore catching gear and Ron Gardenhire led the Twins as they won the Central (and maybe you remember Kevin Slowey).

Twitter features strongly in Twins' stressful division race

Twins' last serious race, in 2010, lacked that sort of stressor.
Twins right fielder Marwin Gonzalez couldn’t catch a ball hit by the Indians’ Franmil Reyes last Sunday at Target Field, when the Twins lost 7-3 i

Five games helped push Twins' tumble

The Twins woke up Tuesday in second place in the AL Central, something that hadn't been true since mid-April. It turned out to be a…
Twins fans are used to watching their team struggle and tend to panic even when the team is playing well. It's part of being a Minnesota sports fan.

Panic in the stadiums: It's just what Minnesota sports fans do

Calm might not be in our nature, and when it comes to sports, Minnesotans are showing their short fuses and long memories yet again.
Minnesota United forward Mason Toye celebrated a goal Wednesday in the U.S. Open Cup semifinals match against Portland, which the Loons won 2-1.

Loons stand on shoulders of a resilient Minnesota pro soccer legacy

That pro soccer in Minnesota has survived uninterrupted for the past quarter-century is a testament to many folks — chief among them longtime head coach…
Vikings safety Harrison Smith, above sacking Bills quarterback Josh Allen, is 30 but still in his prime.

Vikings tumble in NFL rankings based on team's under-25 players

Football Outsiders recently published its annual rankings of all 32 NFL teams based on the overall talent of players under 25 years old on their…
Athletics closer Liam Hendriks, who made the All-Star team this year, is one of many former Twins who are having strong seasons.

Former Twins doing all right, too

This 2019 Twins season has been a joy in so many ways — among them being that it has erased much of the sour taste…
Brusdar Graterol is a longshot to be added if the Twins were to make the playoffs, but the hard-throwing righty’s fastball could come in handy.

It's way too early, but how about these Minnesota Twins playoff lineups?

Here's something I've been thinking about way too much lately considering A) The MLB postseason is still two months away; B) The Twins have a…
Nelson Cruz (23) hit his third home run of the night against the Kansas City Royals in the bottom of the sixth inning Saturday.

Minnesota Twins are on (Nelson) Cruz control

Owing to a bunch of other responsibilities and, let's face it, a follow the herd mentality that didn't seem to be very interested in the…
Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) hopes to have more time to find Adam Thielen (19) downfield.

Will offensive line be better? That's still biggest question with Vikings

A North Score Sunday debate: The most pressing question facing Vikings in training camp is ...
Indians teammates Francisco Lindor, left, and Tyler Naquin celebrated a win Wednesday. The Twins’ big AL Central lead over Cleveland has shrunk late

Tweet by Indians' account leads to little dust-up

Twitter is either the greatest and most important communication advancement of this era or the worst thing in the world that should be shut down…
Wild GM Paul Fenton is rolling the dice that Ryan Donato (left to right), Kevin Fiala and Victor Rask will live up to his expectations.

Minnesota Wild may have been better off standing pat

When Wild General Manager Paul Fenton embarked on a roster shake-up in the middle of last season, the intent seemed clear on two fronts: 1)…
The Wolves’ Jordan McLaughlin drove around the Grizzlies’ Brandon Clarke during the Summer League title game Monday night, won by Memphis 95-92.

Minnesota Timberwolves haul home big stack of chips from Las Vegas

Las Vegas re-branded itself sometime in my early adult life as a 21-plus paradise of debauchery and excess — punctuated by one of the all-time…
Max Kepler was picked off first base on Friday, but he went 4-for-15 with two home runs and four RBI to help the Twins take two of three games at Clev

Hey Twins fans, winning two out of three games at Cleveland is good

And kudos to Trevor Bauer for being able to joke about giving up five consecutive home runs to Max Kepler.
Tyus Jones will be playing for Memphis this season after his hometown team decided the offer sheet he signed with Memphis was too steep to match

Wolves appear to be positioning themselves foe 2020-21 splash

A popular social media conceit making the rounds very recently goes something like this: Your 2020 campaign slogan is the last text you sent.(Mine is…
Pete Alonso, of the New York Mets celebrated winning the Home Run Derby on Monday. Alonso, a rookie, already has 30 home runs at the break.

Home run derby can leave players powerless in second half

You can think of a curse as some sort of supernatural phenomenon foisted on a person or entity as a result of a perceived transgression…
Gophers fans cheered as Air Force kicked the ball off on the first play of the outdoor era at the U of M at the new TCF Bank Stadium in .

Gophers hope all-season pass hits target

In a sign of the times related to both the big-picture sports landscape and the realities of its own attendance challenges, the Gophers athletic department…
Kawhi Leonard, left, and Paul George, right, are joining forces next season with the Los Angeles Clippers.

Good thing? NBA superstars driving deals to form more super teams

A player-driven league is empowering in many good ways, but it is starting to feel like the lever has been pulled too far in one direction in terms of competitive balance.
Indiana’s Candice Dupree passed against the Lynx’s Damiris Dantas on Tuesday, after the Fever took almost 24 hours to return from a weekend game i

Travel debate: Cost vs. comfort

It's the kind of nightmare travel story that a friend or colleague might tell you. But this one happened to a professional team at the…
The Wild was lauded for picking Matthew Boldy in the first round by draft pundits, with grades ranging from A-minus to B overall.

Wild, Wolves draft earn high marks

Among the fan bases of the Wild and Wolves, it seems fashionable right now to believe one can do nothing right and one can do…
Byron Buxton was checked by trainers after he was hit in the hand Friday. Buxton hasn’t played since then and the Twins are just 6-6 this year witho

Not all numbers matter to Twins

As the Twins cruise toward the halfway point in the season with a comfortable lead in the AL Central, there are some numbers that matter…
Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and James Harden all played for Oklahoma City until the Thunder decided it couldn’t afford Harden in 2013.

NBA salaries have outjumped other sports

It was less than seven years ago, but it feels like 50 in many ways, that James Harden and Oklahoma City reached an impasse in…
Russia’s Kirill Kaprizov was picked in the fifth round in 2015 and could become the Wild’s best choice ever if he develops as much as the team exp

Wild's best players have been first-round picks

The Wild is convinced it will get a player it really likes with the No. 12 pick the first round of the NHL draft Friday,…