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Michael Rand

Digital sports editor | StarTribune.com
Phone: 612-673-7564
Michael Rand is digital sports editor. He also writes the RandBall blog and oversees the sports section's 2Day feature on Page 2.
Recent content from Michael Rand
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 shari.gross@startribune.com 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.
Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve gave in to tears during a news conference at which Lindsay Whalen announced she will retire at the end of the season. “We al

Reeve gives in to emotion at Whalen announcement

As Whalen said of Reeve, there are "a lot of similarities in our personalities." They might express those personalities in different ways, but the bonds are clear.
Former Twins second baseman Brian Dozier hit his third homer with the Dodgers on Thursday night against the Brewers.

RandBall: Allow me to catch up after two weeks away

When you are accustomed to writing about things pretty much every day, two weeks can feel like a year — particularly in our existing up-to-the-second news cycle.
The Astros won last year’s World Series in seven games, capping another satisfying postseason for baseball.

Going wild for playoffs

Minnesota pro sports fans are getting accustomed to the postseason lately, with the Lynx, Twins, Vikings, Wild and Wolves all having qualified in succession while…
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers will be looking for payback on Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr after this hit caused a season-ending injury.

Vikings-Packers rivalry could be another special one this year

Several factors can ramp up the anticipation of the upcoming season, and a key element always has been the state of the Vikings' rivalry with the Packers going into the year.
Wolves center Karl-Anthony Townstalked to some of the kids at his basketball camp Wednesday at Providence Academy.

Karl-Anthony Towns avoids touchy subjects with media at his basketball camp

It's been an offseason filled with rumors and reports about Timberwolves star center Karl-Anthony Towns, so Wednesday seemed like the perfect opportunity for Towns to…
When Eddie Rosario slid safely into third base Sunday, things were going well for the Twins. When he scored on a throwing error on the same play, thin

Give up on 2018? History says it's too soon for the Twins

The Twins have a history of coming from behind in the second half of the season to make the playoffs.
Tampa Bay’s Ryne Stanek has given up only two runs in 11 bullpen day starts. Those appearances have totaled 16⅔ innings.

Two views: Rays bullpen days will likely be copied by other teams

Chris Hine and Michael Rand weigh in on the week's hot sports topics.
Twins first baseman Joe Mauer could strengthen his borderline Hall of Fame credentials by reaching 2,500 hits.

Hall of Fame still within Joe Mauer's reach

Joe Mauer cruised past 2,000 hits earlier this year — a milestone we all might have assumed he would reach sooner, but an important marker…
NBA has less parity but is more popular

NBA has less parity but is more popular

NBA teams are either striving to keep up with the best (like Houston adding Chris Paul last year and the Lakers adding LeBron James this year) or they're unmistakably playing for the future.
Golfer Cheyenne Woods has her eyes on the Women’s PGA Championship trophy, inspired by her uncle, Tiger Woods.

Tiger's niece is a chip shot off the ol' block

Cheyenne Woods, 27, was making the media rounds in the Twin Cities on Monday in advance of next year's KPMG Women's PGA Championship at Hazeltine National in Chaska.
LeBron James’ arrival in Los Angeles has T-shirts and jerseys flying off NBA Store shelves. It also has knocked the Timberwolves’ hopes for an NBA

Timberwolves face new challenge in bulked-up West

Now LeBron James is in the West with the Lakers — not to mention a host of other teams with realistic 50-win aspirations.
All-Star closer Joe Nathan gave Ron Gardenhire, his manager in 2006, plenty of reason to smile with his dependability.

Bullpen problems keep Twins from winning as often as they should

In this age of baseball analytics and advanced stats, there is a clear winner when it comes to the biggest gap between the fanciest name…
Thinking out loud: Andrew Wiggins’ explosiveness might give the Wolves’ second unit the spark it needs.

What about the Wolves bringing Andrew Wiggins off the bench?

The Timberwolves have signed Derrick Rose and Anthony Tolliver so far in free agency.Neither of those represents a seismic move in a Western Conference that…
The Twins’ Joe Mauer wiped the sweat from his face during Saturday’s game against the Cubs, who swept the series.

Hopes for saving Twins season wither in July's heat

When things go wrong in life or sports, it's often useful to have a milestone or designated point for a "new beginning" to offer a…
Eduardo Escobar has had a career year for the floundering Twins — backing the argument for a trade.

Would Twins benefit by trading Eduardo Escobar?

Michael Rand and Chris Hine weigh in on the week's hot sports topics. This week: If the Twins are looking to sell, their hot-hitting switch hitter might be the one that can bring in the biggest return.
Tom Thibodeau and Scott Layden introduced Josh Okogie (20) and Keita Bates-Diop to the media on Tuesday.

Time will tell how Timberwolves' draft picks fit into rotation

The Timberwolves had two separate media availability sessions this week, underscoring the rapid pace of the NBA offseason.On Tuesday, they introduced first-round draft pick Josh…
At Brit’s Pub, Mexico fan Victor Martinez was instructive about his matraca and attired appropriately for the World Cup.

At Brit's, Mexico's surprise path is good news for most

Wearing a yellow shirt and blue pants is a strange combination any day, but it became even more unfortunate when I showed up at Brit's…
Fans urge on Willson Contreras as he doubles, beginning a ninth-inning come-back to tie the Brewers and later win the tenth inning at Wrigley Field Fr

Chicago, Chicago, Milwaukee road trip unlike any other in Twins history

Savvy Twins fans already know about the opportunity in front of them. They proved with ample responses to a Twitter inquiry I made about the…
Fifth Third Field, sponsored by a bank, is home to the Class A Dayton Dragons.

Baseball still matters enough to make a road trip

Here are some observations from Michael Rand's 19th annual Great Baseball Road Trip, which this year ventured to southern Ohio and Kentucky:
Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie, middle, sets up between first baseman Adam Lind, left, and right fielder Moises Sierra in shallow right

Does MLB need to do something about all the defensive shifts?

Michael Rand and Chris Hine weigh in on the week's hot sports topics.
The Wolves’ Jimmy Butler was all smiles on his first visit to the Twin Cities after the team traded for him a year ago.

Wolves trade for Jimmy Butler still looks good year later

One year ago at the NBA draft, the Timberwolves pulled off one of the most significant trades in franchise history when they landed Jimmy Butler…
Fans will able to have their photos taken with an NCAA trophy. ] GLEN STUBBE • glen.stubbe@startribune.com Thursday, June 7, 2018 Starting in June t

The Twin Cities seems to have everything when it comes to sports

Say this for the newly announced 3M Open, a regular PGA Tour event that will start in the Twin Cities in the summer of 2019:…
Both the Timberwolves and the Wild found good value with their 2014 first-round draft picks, selecting guard Zach LaVine (left) and forward Alex Tuch,

Wolves, Wild draft histories are ledger of hits, misses

The Timberwolves and Wild have draft histories that can politely be described as hit-or-miss.
Michael Lutgen got two holes-in-one on the same par 3, No. 14 hole at New Prague Country Club two days apart.

Golfer Michael Lutgen gets two holes-in-one on the same hole at New Prague Country Club two days apart

Before Michael Lutgen hit his tee shot May 25 on the par 3, No. 14 hole at New Prague Golf Club — the same spot…
San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard could be in line for a $219 million, 5-year deal after this season.

44 million reason$ to gasp

Even in this seemingly fictional world we have chosen to accept, where the top 1 percent of earners — of which many professional athletes certainly…
LeBron James may be playing hide-and-go-seek with several NBA teams this offseason.

Wolves fans should root for LeBron James going anywhere but Los Angeles

Welcome to another Summer of LeBron.(And don't argue that summer technically hasn't started yet. Summer goes from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend, regardless…
Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin, of Russia, hoists the Stanley Cup after the Capitals defeated the Golden Knights in Game 5 of the NHL hoc

Ovechkin's joy shows value in ending title droughts the old-fashioned way

The genuine enthusiasm with which Alex Ovechkin is celebrating Washington's Stanley Cup title is a tribute to the power of success truly earned.
The three Vikings quarterbacks of 2017 — from left, Case Keenum with the Broncos, Sam Bradford with the Cardinals and Teddy Bridgewater with the Jet

Keeping tabs on the Vikings quarterbacks of 2017, and 2018

One of the most potentially fascinating, fun and/or frustrating things to watch during the 2018 NFL season figures to be the play of four specific…
Randy Moss, center, with host Mike Tirico and Hall of Fame jockey/NBC analyst Jerry Bailey.

The 'other' Randy Moss says distance could hurt Justify at Belmont

Prior Lake's Randy Moss — the NBC horse racing analyst, who is not to be confused with the legendary former Vikings receiver - chatted about Saturday's race.
Creighton guard Khyri Thomas would be a good selection at No. 20 for the Wolves, who need an immediate contributor.

Wolves need to find immediate help in draft with 20th pick

On Monday night, the Twins chose (PLEASE UPDATE AFTER THE PICK IS MADE) with the No. 20 overall pick in the MLB draft. It will…
Noah Hickcox (91) strip sacked quarterback Vic Viramontes (7) during the U's spring football game.

Fleck's miss on Viramontes is another lesson about hype

The seduction of possibility often leads to a harsh reality in sports, as Gophers football, the Twins and the NBA taught us this weekend.
Track and field star Jackie Joyner-Kersee was named the 20th century’s top female athlete by Sports Illustrated.

Jackie Joyner-Kersee is a champion of young people

Her foundation is working with the Twin Cities-based Tony Sanneh Foundation on some shared programs
Miguel Sano tossed his bat after striking out earlier this year. Sano has only six homers this season.

Fewer homers the biggest reason Twins aren't scoring as much this season

Tuesday night’s 2-1, 14-inning loss to the Royals was the breaking point — or at least the latest breaking point — for some Twins fans…
Twins second baseman Brian Dozier pointed to fans Monday at Kauffman Stadium before the team took on the Royals. The Indians, at 27-25 after beating t

Being best of the worst may be winning strategy in mediocre AL Central

The good news for the Twins through roughly the first two months of the season — which have been filled with slumps, underachievers, injuries and…
Karl-Anthony Towns is eligible for a five-year, $156.5 million contract extension from the Wolves this summer.

Karl-Anthony Towns' big payday could come this summer

Bobby Marks, a front office insider for ESPN who used to be an assistant GM with the NBA's Nets, generated great interest in the Twin…
Tucker Hibbert, who recently retired from snocross racing, went out on top, winning his 11th Pro Championship.

Hibbert, in retirement, plans to keep riding snowmobiles — for fun

Tucker Hibbert, 33, raced snowmobiles for 25 years and did it professionally for more than half his life before announcing last week he was retiring as a professional snocross racer.
Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr is holding out of OTAs.

The Vikings' Anthony Barr, the Packers' Aaron Rodgers and the Wolves' Karl-Anthony Towns involved in power plays of another kind

In whatever pro sports battles exist between the rich (players, coaches) and ultrarich (owners and the leagues themselves), the path to more money or power…
FILE - In this Monday, May 14, 2018 file photo, people make bets in the sports book area of the South Point Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Those who d

Two views: NFL may not have most to gain from regulated gambling

Michael Rand and Chris Hine weigh in in the week's hot sports topics.
Becky Hammon, an assistant coach with the Spurs, was a candidate for the Bucks head coaching job.

Getting an interview is first step for women to coach a men's team

Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon reportedly interviewed for the Milwaukee Bucks' head coaching vacancy. She didn't get the job this week — former Hawks coach…
Las Vegas still will hold a certain appeal, but the expansion of sports betting nationwide is sure to alter the experience.

Las Vegas likely will take a hit from expanded gambling

The U.S. Supreme Court opened the door for widespread sports betting across the country with its ruling earlier this week that struck down a federal…
The Gophers men's tennis team advanced to the NCAA tournament Sweet 16 on Saturday for the first time in 18 years with players from near and far (cloc

From Shakopee to Slovenia, Gophers create a men's tennis power

The Gophers earned their first spot in the NCAA tournament Sweet 16 in 18 years when they beat host Oklahoma on Saturday.
Offense garners most of the attention on the Houston Rockets, but the ability to win on both offense and defense is what makes Chris Paul and his team

Champs win in various ways

If you follow the narrative that defense wins championships, you can find repudiation — but then validation — in the story of the Golden State…

Baseball card experts (mostly) hit a home run in ranking Twins' 'most legendary'

As part of a promotional effort to generate interest in the Topps and Beckett brands, the two leaders in the trading card industry have teamed…
Erik Haula, right, and Alex Tuch are two of the biggest reasons Vegas has reached the Western Conference finals and both came over from the Wild this

Wild gamble pays off for Vegas

Few people could have seen any of this coming — not even the biggest Vegas Golden Knights optimist or the biggest Minnesota Wild pessimist.This time…
Logan Morrison homered on Friday and had two RBI Sunday, more in line with the expectations the Twins have for him.

Twins' key offseason acquisitions show signs of turning corner

Plenty of things contributed to the Twins' 10-17 record through 27 games, including slow starts and subsequent injuries to Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton as…
CARLOS GONZALEZ • cgonzalez@startribune.com (top); ERIC CHRISTIAN SMITH • Associated Press (above)
The Wild couldn’t stop Mark Scheifele, top, o

Stats overload making sports so predictable, fans losing out

The narrative of the Wild's trip to the NHL playoffs and the Wolves' trip to the NBA playoffs this year was basically written and decided…
Vikings might not need another miracle from Stefon Diggs to make the Super Bowl this season.

Vikings among favorites to win Super Bowl by Las Vegas oddsmakers

Super Bowl odds released shortly after the NFL draft 1) are pretty useless and 2) still managed to catch my eye this week.The useless part…
The Vikings needed a starting guard and instead picked Pittsburgh tackle Brian O’Neill, considered a longterm project.

Vikings' draft failed to fill their biggest immediate need

It's partly true and partly a cop out to say we can't evaluate how teams perform in the NFL draft until a few years down…
Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau in the second quarter. ] CARLOS GONZALEZ ï cgonzalez@startribune.com ñ April 21, 2018, Minneapolis,

Tom Thibodeau and Bruce Boudreau: Two years, two coaches, two evaluations

Almost exactly two years ago, the head coaching landscape in Minnesota sports changed considerably.On April 20, 2016, the Timberwolves announced they were hiring Tom Thibodeau…
Under the Flying Objects “curse,” the Rockets were bound to beat the Wolves. The Pelicans and Raptors could be dangerous, too.

RandBall: Local pro teams, beware of flying objects

My wife often teases me about my ability to see plausible paths to victory or success for Minnesota sports teams when the reality tells us…
General Manager Rick Spielman said Tuesday the Vikings need to find backups and role players in this week’s NFL draft.

RandBall: NFL draft success sets the table for winning seasons

Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman said all the right things in his pre-draft news conference with reporters Tuesday, including this: "Every year is a big…
The Packers don’t figure to be a losing team again in 2018 if Green Bay gets a full season of quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

Vikings' schedule may not be as tough as originally thought

The caveat before we get started with this exercise is to point out Mark Craig's very good Star Tribune piece last week about how the…
For Karl-Anthony Towns and the Wolves, just getting to the postseason was an achievement not reached since the 2003-04 season. Fans hope the team avoi

Postseasons of Wild, Wolves offer some parallels

The middle class of sports — being good enough to reach the playoffs but not good enough to do much once you get there — can be a frustrating place.
Karl-Anthony Towns has stalled in the playoffs. He’s scored 13 points in two games vs. the Rockets despite a 21.6 points per game career average.

Timberwolves offense this postseason can only go up

Mitch Hedberg's excellent and hilarious comedy routine about what happens when escalators break down aside, there is a certain strangeness and discomfort I encounter in…
Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby celebrated with the Stanley Cup after the Penguins’ victory in last year’s finals.

Stanley Cup visits Minneapolis, nears tough transition time

In order to keep the Stanley Cup from getting too unwieldy, bands at the bottom need to be removed and replaced as more teams win.
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