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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
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,…
Paul Fenton is excited about having eight picks in next week’s draft.

Wild GM Fenton seems aimed at long-term, rather than quick fix

Our North Score Sunday debate looks at what the Wild needs to do now that the NHL offseason has officially arrived.
The Warriors’ Kevin Durant tore his Achilles during Game 5 of the NBA Finals, throwing his future residency in doubt next season.

Warriors' injuries, Lakers' trade opens up Western Conference

What does that mean for the Wolves? Good question. In the short term, probably not much.
The Vikings have been praised for their roster continuity with players such as linebackers Anthony Barr (55) and Eric Kendricks (54) returning for ano

The Vikings are getting the band back together in 2019, for better...or worse.

Despite persistent challenges of attrition, salary constraints and the lure of the open market, the Vikings pretty much got the entire band back together in…
That’s a human, not a robot, back there deciding first whether the Twins’ Eddie Rosario swung Tuesday and second whether the pitch was a ball or a

No arguing balls and strikes these days

It's both a rule and a reality now with pitch-tracking data.
Golden State’s Kevin Durant was helped off the court after sustaining an Achilles’ injury as the Raptors’ Serge Ibaka tried to quiet the cheerin

Game 5 of NBA Finals full of juicy plot lines

Golden State's 106-105 victory over Toronto in Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Monday was a choose-your-own-narrative affair — much different from choose-your-own-adventure —…
The Twins have about seven weeks until the trade deadline, and their need appears to be relief pitching. Options, at various price and quality points,

Twins have options to improve their relief crew

Twins fans seem to be on the verge of a meltdown every time a relief pitcher gets as much as a three-ball count these days.…
Blake Parker is among the pitchers whose work has left an impression that the Twins bullpen is failing. A closer look at results says it’s not that

Twins' relief results aren't that bad

If your biggest concern is the Twins' 4.71 bullpen ERA entering Sunday — No. 21 in MLB — please bear this in mind: The collective ERA of the eight guys currently in the bullpen was 2.89.
Maybe Quinn Cook was asking Kevin Durant how that calf is doing. Or where he’ll play next season. So many questions to deal with during these NBA Fi

NBA Finals are offering so much more than good basketball

The NBA has graced fans with a multitude of subplots that make these finals — the first since 2010 without LeBron James — somehow just as interesting as any in recent memory.
Derrick Rose became a Timberwolf during the 2017-18 season when Ryan Saunders, above, was an assistant coach.

Derrick Rose reveals Timberwolves' woes in new autobiography

In his new book he sheds light on Butler saga, Thibodeau era.
The Wolves need the pre-Wolves Jeff Teague instead of the guy who has played (or often, not played) the past two years in Minnesota.

Five small ways to make Wolves much better

There is no offseason in the NBA or in the imaginations of its fans. There is only the constant churn of rumors — and daydreams…
Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins faded badly at the end of last season, but will he have the most to prove in 2019 or is it another player like Dalvin

Which Vikings player has the most on the line in the new season?

North Score: This is a "prove-it" year for the Vikings — one that could either reinforce the direction in which they are heading or lead to sweeping changes.
Marwin Gonzalez has started at five different positions (31 at third, six at first, five in right, three in left and one at short)and is a plus-defend

Twins have of multiple players who can play multiple positions well

A lot of things are clearly working so far this season for the 40-18 Twins, but one thing that has helped them survive a few…
In his 12 games played since his late start, Miguel Sano, shown with Mitch Garver, has a 1.036 OPS, and the Twins are 10-2 in games he’s started.

This year, savor the Twins' regular season

Fans should feel no need to speed ahead to October.
Gophers guard Amir Coffey might not even be drafted this year, but he still has avenues that could lead to an NBA career that didn’t exist before.

Even if he doesn't get drafted, the Gophers' Amir Coffey might have made the right call by staying in the draft

The dizzying pace of change in the modern world allows for multiple instances — daily? — that force us to question pre-existing norms and wonder…
Derek Falvey had reason to smile when the Twins nailed down five-year contracts with shortstop Jorge Polanco and outfielder Max Kepler this offseason.

Twins sign deals with two core players

The Twins brain trust, led by Derek Falvey and Thad Levine, made several long-term contract offers to young core players this offseason. They weren't able…
The Penguins’ Phil Kessel, left, recently vetoed a trade to the Wild for Jason Zucker, right, Victor Rask and Jack Johnson, a move that would have m

Thank you for snubbing us

Phil Kessel reportedly vetoed a potential trade to the Wild, one that would have sent Jason Zucker to the Penguins.Everything about this looks bad for…
Dan Gladden was mobbed at home plate after scoring the only run in Game 7, capping a stunning win over Atlanta in the 1991 World Series.

Twins' success is surprising, but we've seen these things before

Here is a quick look back at five other seasons by Minnesota pro sports teams that fall into that unforeseeable category.
The Gophers' Katelyn Kemmetmueller slid safely into home past LSU catcher Michaela Schlattman in Minnesota's 3-0 victory Saturday in the NCAA softball

The weekend: Winners everywhere for Minnesota sports teams

Every single team won Saturday, providing a chance for widespread joy — and a little analysis of each team's accomplishment in the big picture.
St. Thomas and St. John’s have been the MIAC football powers for some time, but across other sports the Tommies have a clear advantage.

With St. Thomas' dismissal from MIAC, it's more than just football

A persistent question from those with both a vested and casual interest in the ongoing story of the MIAC booting St. Thomas out of the…
St. Thomas coach Glen Caruso led his team onto the field for a game against St. John’s in 2014. The two teams might not play again after 2020.

Next two years could be nuts for St. Thomas in MIAC

The spare, two-paragraph news release from the MIAC announcing the departure of St. Thomas from the conference on Wednesday didn't provide a lot of details…
The Lynx traded 2020 draft picks for two players with experience and dropped two players Tuesday, including former Gophers point guard Kenisha Bell (2

Lynx make 2 trades, waive 2 players, including former U star Bell

The Lynx traded 2020 draft picks for two players with experience and dropped two players, including former Gophers point guard Kenisha Bell.
Andrew Wiggins, taking questions following Tuesday’s news conference, is among a group of Wolves players already working out together at Target Cent

Wolves' Towns: 'We're taking a new approach' to the offseason

This offseason has been a palate-cleansing of sorts — and the hiring of Gersson Rosas as president of basketball operations along with Ryan Saunders as permanent head coach has generated a cultural change.
Minnesota’s young guns, clockwise from top left: Ryan Saunders, Rocco Baldelli, Lindsay Whalen, Richard Pitino, Derek Falvey and P.J. Fleck.

Youth once again served, this time by Minnesota Timberwolves

It's probably time to create a keyboard shortcut — Ctrl+Shift+M, something to the effect of "one of the youngest coaches/executives in the game today" —…
The improved hitting of Byron Buxton -- shown after hitting a grand slam off the Mariners' Wade LaBlanc on Saturday night -- is one of the many reason

Something special is shaping up for Twins

There is an increasing expectation the Twins are creating that every night might produce a victory — and a lopsided one at that, as we saw this weekend in Seattle and plenty of other times this year.
Nelson Cruz, left, and Jonathan Schoop have been two big additions to the Twins lineup this season. But they're not the only newcomers making a differ

Most impactful new Twins player? You have a long list to choose from

An injection of talent and new ideas has fueled the Twins to a hot start and one of the best records in MLB. It might be hard to pick just one, but let's try: Which new addition to the Twins has made the biggest impact in 2019?
Lynx rookie Napheesa Collier, left, is trying to adjust her stroke after struggling with her outside shooting as a senior at UConn.

Lynx top draft pick Collier goes from All-America to wide-eyed rookie

And as much as her new teammates are learning about her, first-round draft choice Napheesa Collier is learning even more about them — and about life in the WNBA.
Blues goalie Jordan Binnington argued about a hand pass made by the Sharks that wasn’t called on the winning goal in overtime of Game 3 on Wednesday

It's NHL's turn to review replay

It was hockey's turn for a controversial no-call in a playoff game, after football experienced it earlier this year.
The Wolves’ Gersson Rosas, in the second row, saw his team drop one spot, but the Bulls, represented by Horace Grant, center, fell from fourth to se

Wolves' bad luck not as awful as it seems

On Tuesday night, for the 12th time in their history out of 22 NBA lotteries, the Wolves moved down from their pre-drawing slot. They have…
Lynx point guard Danielle Robinson, shooting over Sparks guard (and now teammate) Odyssey Sims of the Sparks last season, has made only three three-po

Do Lynx have right players to develop a three-point attack?

As the rest of the WNBA was gravitating toward shots beyond the arc during recent seasons, the Lynx were sticking with an offense built around two-pointers.
Mug shot of Klein combined with a screen grab of the petition

St. Thomas has unlikely ally in fight to stay in MIAC

In the fascinating, escalating story of conference power St. Thomas' possible ouster from the MIAC, the Tommies seemingly have few allies. The latest piece of…
Former Twins player Brian Dozier slumped in the 2018 season and was traded at the deadline.

Good trades are all in the timing

Here's an interesting case study involving three popular former or current Twin Cities athletes who are quite similar in many ways.
The Twins, including Eddie Rosario (20) and Jorge Polanco (11), have done a whole lot more celebrating at the end of games this season than originally

Twins might be a reality show

"Are the Twins for real?" is a question you have probably asked or tried to answer this spring.My stock answer is still that the lineup…
Giannis Antetokounmpo has carried the Bucks to a 3-1 advantage over the Celtics in their Eastern Conference semifinals.

The Minnesota Timberwolves should follow the Milwaukee Bucks model, not the Houston Rockets'

The Wolves could follow Milwaukee's model easier than Houston's.
New Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations Gersson Rosas laughed as his 3-year-old twins Giana, left, and Grayson took over the microphone as

Rosas lays out vision, confronts Wolves tricky roster situation

A decision on the futures of interim coach Ryan Saunders and general manager Scott Layden could come quickly; revamping the roster, however, will take more time to play out.
Wolves forward Andrew Wiggins got to the rim for this layup in a game against the Philadelphia 76ers, but nearly half of all Wiggins’ shot attempts

Will Wolves' new hire Rosas make Wiggins more efficient?

It's reasonable to think Gersson Rosas was brought in to build and manage a roster able to execute the style of play that has made Houston both efficient and successful.
Tyron Woodley, far right, showed off some sparring moves for fans at Mall of America on Thursday. Woodley will fight Robbie Lawler on June 29 at Targe

Ex-UFC champs Lawler, Woodley meet in rematch June 29 at Target Center

Though it's not a title bout, Lawler gets a chance to face the fighter who took away his belt.
The Twins averaged just 17,007 fans at Target Field through April’s end, a 19.3% decline from April 2018. Only the Toronto Blue Jays have been hit h

Twins endure difficult April attendance, but there's reason for optimism

Factors within, beyond Twins' control explain their April woes.
Carlos Gonzalez/Star Tribune November 28, 2004 Metrodome, Minneapolis, MN ñ NFL ñ Minnesota Vikings vs. Jacksonville Jaguars ñ FOR FILE_+----- Minn

Why haven't the Vikings retired Randy Moss' No. 84?

A social media dust-up involving the Packers quickly reassignment Clay Matthews' number to another player got Michael Rand thinking about how Minnesota teams have handled such situations.
Sloane Martin

Lynx hire Sloane Martin as radio play-by-play broadcaster

Martin will be the first female radio play-by-play broadcaster for a professional team in the Twin Cities.
North Carolina State’s Garrett Bradbury, left, is the highest-drafted offensive lineman selected by the Vikings since 2012, but 2017 and ’18 saw t

Vikings no longer waiting when it comes to drafting offensive linemen

The judgment point now — one that very well could make or break GM Rick Spielman's tenure — is the quality of those three selections.
Taylor Rogers is one of the Twins’ few dependable relievers so far.

Is it time to panic over the Twins' unreliable bullpen?

How — if at all — should the Twins respond to what looks like a deficiency?
Cori Kennedy, a catcher for Minnesota State Mankato softball, recently became a Twitter sensation (@Corikenned) for her witty “instructional” vide

Mavericks catcher's softball tips on video crack up viewers

Cori Kennedy was almost not famous.Kennedy, a Minnesota State Mankato softball senior whose "instructional" videos have made her a Twitter star with millions of views,…
The Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard left the court Tuesday after scoring a franchise playoff record 50 points in a series-clinching Game 5 win over th

Rather than leaving, Damian Lillard hoping to lift Trail Blazers to title

The moment was almost too perfect.Portland guard Damian Lillard dribbled on the perimeter — just inside half court, really — with the game clock winding…
Offensive linemen — the Vikings’ weakness last season — went through a drill last July in front of assistant offensive line coach Andrew Janocko

Vikings' Mike Zimmer, Rick Spielman need to pick right

The Vikings in the Mike Zimmer era have invested in defense, and they were rewarded with division titles in 2015 and 2017.What they have lacked…
Former Detroit Piston Chauncey Billups, center, addresses fans at Little Caesars Arena while Richard Hamilton, left, and Ben Wallace look on during a

Timberwolves' four finalist for president are pondered

Our Chris Hine provided clarity and a time framework to the Wolves' search for a new president of basketball operations, reporting that the field of…
Nelson Cruz hit two of the Twins’ 11 home runs in a doubleheader sweep of the Orioles on Saturday. For the season, the Twins have 33 homers in 19 ga

Are juiced baseballs causing another MLB home run surge?

Through Saturday's games, MLB teams were on pace to combine for 6,440 home runs in 2019. That would smash the record of 6,105 hit in 2017.
Lindsay Whalen and Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve at Thursday's press conference.

First in a series? Is Whalen's number retirement a sign of things to come?

Several Lynx players from the team's four-championship dynasty are worthy candidates, and are sure to be considered for the honor after their careers are done.
Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins

Should the Vikings consider drafting a QB with one of their top picks?

The Vikings have chosen only two quarterbacks in the past 10 drafts, a low number compared with most NFL teams. Even with Kirk Cousins, should they?
The Vikings, and quarterback Kirk Cousins (8), avoided a lot of scheduling pitfalls this year, according to one of the experts who studies such things

Vikings did well, considering there are trillions of scheduling options

If you're a Vikings fan, there's a good chance you spent at least some time this week examining the 2019 schedule released Wednesday for pluses…
Welcome back! After losing to Wisconsin 14 consecutive years, the Gophers reclaimed Paul Bunyan’s Axe by thumping the Badgers 37-15 last November.

At long last, Gophers get to take Paul Bunyan's Axe on the road to meet U fans

In trying to create demand for a product, scarcity is a wonderful tool.For Gophers athletics, it's an unfortunate byproduct of a football reality — but…
Sidney Crosby won’t be adding to his collection of Stanley Cups after the Penguins were knocked out of the playoffs by the Islanders and Ryan Pulock

NBA postseason is as muddled as NHL so far

Parity, or at least the perception of it, has long been a staple of the NHL playoffs. In sports with less scoring and thin margins,…
Former first baseman Justin Morneau will provide analysis during 50 Twins TV broadcasts this season, second-most behind Bert Blyleven.

Justin Morneau getting favorable reviews for analysis on Twins TV broadcasts

Twins fans have been treated to some pretty good baseball so far with Minnesota winning in a variety of ways.They've also been getting acclimated to…
Tiger Woods’ ascent up the leaderboard — and Francesco Molinari’s descent — made for great theater on Sunday at Augusta National.

Tiger of old seizes the moment

There was no doubt about Sunday's star attraction — and a reminder of the sway Woods has even as his streak of not winning a major had reached a decade.
Wolves interim coach Ryan Saunders walked off the floor Wednesday night, the end of a losing season where he took over after Tom Thibodeau was fired.

All we do is, uh, not win enough here to make the playoffs?

Minnesotans woke up to some very cold realities Thursday.The first was the weather, of course, which is just dumb. Sure, all this snow will be…
Former Nebraska coach Tim Miles said he grew up rooting for the Gophers and even made moves to try to become their coach after Dan Monson was fired in

Ex-Nebraska coach Tim Miles has always been a fan of Gophers

On the day last week when his successor was introduced as the new head coach of the Nebraska men's basketball team, Tim Miles hopped in…
Virginia’s De’Andre Hunter made plenty of big plays in both games, including dunking between Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver (23) and Tariq Owens.

Ten shining moments from Minneapolis' Final Four

Lest we lose track of some of the moments we won't want to forget, let's round them up here.
Virginia's bench erupted after De'Andre Hunter scored and got the foul during the second half.

Were you expecting a low-scoring, boring Final Four title game? Sorry

Monday's title game will be remembered for the exact opposite of how many thought it would play out.
Fans took in the scene from high in the U.S. Bank Stadium seats Friday, when practice was open to the public, free of charge and surrounded by festivi

What's a business trip for Final Four players is a fun vacation for fans

Out-of-towners arriving to support Virginia, Auburn, Michigan State and Texas Tech are, by and large, here on a vacation. But the teams themselves? This is a trip
Nice to meet you: This Final Four is all about new blood, not blue bloods

Nice to meet you: This Final Four is all about new blood, not blue bloods

Three upstarts are joining Michigan State in an atypical Final Four at U.S. Bank Stadium. It has not diminished the event.
Anfernee McLemore applied the Auburn touch, disrupting what Kentucky’s Tyler Herro was trying to accomplish during the Midwest Region final.

Auburn builds it all on getting turnovers

A steal is so often the starting point for an Auburn success.
Virginia’s Kyle Guy, shown with Ty Jerome, is one of the team’s highest-volume long-distance shooters, at 42.7 percent on 267 attempts.

Virginia's extra-long possessions can frustrate both opponents and fans

If the expression "slow and steady wins the race" applies to basketball, then this much is certain: Virginia men's basketball players will be cutting down the nets
Coach Tom Izzo, holding up the net Sunday after Michigan State defeated Duke, has brought his team to the Final Four seven other times in his tenure.

Izzo's tough customers: Spartans play great defense AND offense

North Score: Second in a series analyzing the Final Four teams, today featuring Michigan State.
Gonzaga’s Rui Hacxhimuira was surrounded by Texas Tech defenders in the West Region final Sunday. The Red Raiders held the potent Zags to 69 points.

Texas Tech relied on its dominating defense to make the Final Four

North Score: In the first of a series breaking down the Final Four teams, Michael Rand sizes up the tenacious defense of Texas Tech.
Tre Jones covered his face but didn’t cover up his disappointment after the Blue Devils lost Sunday and cost him a trip home for the Final Four.

Any chance we'll miss Duke at the Final Four?

With Auburn, Texas Tech and Virginia already in, it felt like the field needed Duke, the No. 1 overall seed, to get the job done in order to inject some royalty and star power into this week.
The Wild and forward Jason Zucker had nothing to show for many point-blank shots at Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros on Monday night.

Net expectations not being met

Big gap separates Wild's true goal differential and statistical predictions.
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