Michael Rand started RandBall with hopes that he could convince the world to love jumpsuits as much as he does. So far, he's only succeeded in using the word "redacted" a lot. He welcomes suggestions, news tips, links of pure genius, and pictures of pets in Halloween costumes here, though he already knows he will regret that last part.
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WAITING FOR AARON
(SCENE: Two Packers fans, Vincent and Earl, sit at a tavern, drinking Miller Lite, munching on popcorn. ESPN is on the TV. Aaron Rodgers’ status for Sunday is called “uncertain.”)
EARL: Man, what are we gonna do?
VINCENT: Nothing to be done. Gotta ride it out, then run the table.
EARL: I suppose so. Flynn and Tolzien might have to beat the Falcons, though. Think they can do that much, they’ve looked okay sometimes and Atlanta is pretty bad.
VINCENT: Listen to yourself. You’re not making sense. Flynn and Tolzien are thieves! They are stealing money from us. The Pack can’t win without Aaron. We gotta wait for him, then win out.
EARL: Whatever, I’m gonna head home.
EARL: Ah, you know what, one more won’t hurt. (EARL orders another beer, begins to doze off.)
VINCENT: Hey, wake up, dummy. SportsCenter just said they’ll have an update from Green Bay.
EARL: Huh? I was just resting my eyes. Did they say anything about Aaron? Is he coming back?
VINCENT: Dunno, they didn’t say. Hey, I ever tell you the one about Dan Devine’s dog and the preacher?
EARL: Can’t recall.
VINCENT: Oh man, it’s a good one. Gotta hit the can first, though. (VINCENT goes to the rest room, returns.) What were we talking about?
EARL: Rodgers coming back this week?
VINCENT: Yeah, if he doesn’t I’m gonna be almost suicidal, I tell you.
EARL: How do you think Aaron will do when he comes back?
VINCENT: Can’t say definitely, since he’ll probably have some extra padding on his collarbone, but probably 4-5 touchdowns, 400 yards. Then he can ramp it up as he gets healthier.
EARL: Sounds right. You hungry?
VINCENT: Yeah. My old lady’s got me eating rabbit food because we’re supposably (sic) at a high risk for diabetes because of our diet.
EARL: Yeah, I’m gonna order a pizza. Get some veggies on it, make it healthy.
(A loud yell is heard from near the pull-tab booth. LUCKY has pulled a $300 winner.)
EARL: Figures. Lucky gets Favre’s autograph when he sees him at the airport, and now this.
VINCENT: Yeah, but he owes Paulie something like $500 for working on his car, so that money’s good as gone.
EARL: Yeah, like Paulie needs it. (PAULIE is sitting at a table by the bar’s only window, wearing a Realtree Clay Matthews jersey, eating chicken wings and drinking muscatel.)
VINCENT: Why’s he drinking wine?
EARL: Doctor said he’s gotta get off the beer. That’s his compromise.
VINCENT: Smart man. Hey, they’re talking about the Packers now, shut up.
(Ed Werder reports that Rodgers will practice in a limited capacity, and that no decision has been made for Sunday’s game.)
EARL: Well, there you go.
VINCENT: There it is. Maybe they’ll know more later on tonight. Might as well order another round.
This item in Deadspin caught our eye: The NBA is said to be handing out warning cards to unruly fans telling them to clean up their behavior. They look like this:
As a practical matter, we have to imagine it would be hard to find the same fan behaving poorly at a different game, but within the same game? It seems to be a fairly effective way to keep the cheap shot artists and real loudmouths at bay.
It also makes us wonder how many such cards we might have received in our younger, more heckling-friendly years as a fan of many sports. We're pretty sure Malik Rose wishes we had had been given one during the 1999 playoffs against the Wolves.
Your thoughts, please, in the comments.
Well, the most interesting story of the day award goes to T.J. Quinn, a former New York Daily News reporter who is now with ESPN.
It was 10 years ago today when Quinn, then at the Daily News, broke the story of Bonds' grand jury testimony in the BALCO scandal. He was never supposed to hear the testimony, of course, but he did nonetheless.
How did he do it?
Well, a little luck ... a little quick thinking ... and the rest is history.
He revealed the entire story through a series of tweets. Deadspin has already captured them, so we won't bother to do the same.
But trust us: go have a look-see.
Matt Cassel will start at QB for the Vikings on Sunday, and the official reason being given is that Christian Ponder has not passed his concussion test after being knocked from the game against the Bears at halftime.
The honest truth is that Cassel is a better quarterback than Ponder and certainly gives the Vikings a better chance to win.
With that in mind, we thought it might be fun to look back at the season and imagine how it might have played out differently if Cassel had been the starter all season. Keep in mind, of course, this is all purely speculative and hypothetical:
Week 1: 34-24 loss at Detroit. Ponder started and threw three interceptions, including a game-turner with the Vikings leading 14-6 late in the first half and driving for more points. Detroit got the ball and scored to make it 14-13 at the break and went on for the victory. Win probability if Cassel starts: Tossup.
Week 2: 31-30 loss at Chicago: The Vikings were tied 14-14 in the second quarter because of a kickoff return and fumble return for TDs. Then Ponder threw a pick-six and it was 21-14 Bears. Ponder responded and played decently the rest of the way, but he and the offense couldn't cash in a late drive for a TD. They settled for a field goal, the Bears scored in the final minute and there you have it. Win probability if Cassel starts: 60 percent.
Week 3: 31-27 loss to Cleveland: Ponder had just 228 yards passing and an interception on 42 attempts, but he did have a pair of rushing touchdowns that had the Vikings in position to win, leading 27-24 late. The defense couldn't hold, and another late close loss was at hand. Win probability if Cassel starts: 60 percent.
Week 4: Cassel started in London against the Steelers. The Vikings won.
Week 6, after bye: Cassel started vs. Carolina. The Vikings lost. Carolina has won 8 consecutive games starting with that one.
Week 7: 23-7 loss at New York. Josh Freeman started and was awful. The Vikings actually led 7-3 in the first quarter thanks to a Marcus Sherels punt return for a TD. That was their only score of the game against the Giants, who were almost as inept. Win probability if Cassel starts: Tossup.
Week 8: 44-31 loss to Packers. Ponder plays OK, but the Packers shred the Vikings' defense. Win probability if Cassel starts: Low.
Week 9: 27-23 loss to Dallas. Playing one of the worst pass defenses in the league, Ponder is decent. His fumble in the end zone is recovered by the Cowboys for a 20-10 lead, but he helps lead two TD drives to reclaim the lead at 23-20. But a critical three-and-out with a chance to ice the game haunts Ponder and the Vikings, as Dallas rallies late to win. Win probability if Cassel starts: 60 percent.
Week 10: 34-27 Vikings win. Ponder plays quite well but is knocked out of the game setting up the go-ahead TD at 28-27. Cassel relieves and leads two field goal drives, and the defense holds on for the win. Win probability if Cassel starts: Tossup.
Week 11: 41-20 Seattle. Vikings are clobbered. Ponder has an awful second half, but this game was not determined by the QB. Win probability if Cassel starts: Low.
Week 12: 26-26 tie vs. Green Bay. Ponder plays decently in helping the Vikings build a 23-7 lead, but the offense stalls in the fourth quarter as the Packers rally to tie. In overtime, the Packers kick a field goal but the Vikings come back and get one, too -- largely thanks to their ground game -- and the game winds up tied. Win probability if Cassel starts: 60 percent.
Week 13: 23-20 win over the Bears: Ponder is knocked out at halftime with a concussion after going just 3 of 8 for 40 yards. Cassel relieves, leads a late rally to force overtime, then the Vikings kick the game-winning field goal in OT. Cassel finishes with 243 yards, one TD and an INT -- on a ball that should have been caught for a touchdown. Win probability if Cassel starts: 80 percent.
So what we have is this: Five games the Vikings lost and one tie in which the difference between Ponder or Freeman and Cassel, in our mind, might have made the difference in a victory. One game in which Ponder started (and won) that we're not sure Cassel would have won.
Our best guess is the Vikings very well could be .500 if Cassel had started all season. In this year's NFC North, that would mean they were in the thick of the race.
Your thoughts, please, in the comments
But as big of a deal as that news conference was Tuesday afternoon, there was a reality check less than 24 hours later. The Yankees once again opened their giant checkbook and reportedly agreed to terms with free agent outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury on a 7-year, $153 million deal. This makes Ellsbury the next Johnny Damon when it comes to Beantown Betrayal.
It also represents more than triple in total value what the Twins paid for Nolasco, and nobody really bats an eyelash when the Yankees do it.
All of this, too, while the Yankees are reportedly trying to cut payroll.
Then again, the Yankees' version of cutting down means getting just under the $189 million luxury tax threshold. Even if New York wound up at, say, $185 million for next season, they would still dwarf the Twins and many other teams.
This isn't news, just review -- and a reminder that on a day the Twins spent twice as much as they ever have on a free agent, it was learned the Yankees have committed to spending more than three times that pumped up figure. We wrote a couple months back about spending vs. winning and the correlation. Again, what it comes down to in our mind is this: If the Twins are wrong about Nolasco and he flops, that is a devastating blow to their hopes. If the Yankees miss on a guy like Nolasco, they can always buy another one.
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