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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Posts about Soccer

Weekend Links with Jon Marthaler: Tiger Woods and strange Kobe tweets

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated: April 27, 2013 - 7:54 AM

The NFL Draft was Thursday (and Friday, and today, but Thursday's round 1 was the true spectacle), and Thursday night I realized something: I know absolutely zero fans who are not NFL fans.

As near as I can tell, NFL fandom has reached such a critical mass that it is more or less a given among sports fans. The Vikings are as popular as every other team in the state put together; every Twins fan or Timberwolves fan or Wild fan you come across is also a Vikings fan. It's just the way of the world.

I mention this because I did not want to watch the draft on Thursday night. The NFL Draft is both interminable and boring, filled with mindless chatter and one or two moments of very mild excitement, like watching a rain delay in baseball and waiting for one of the tarp crew to slip and fall over. And frankly, when it comes to Vikings fandom, I spend three hours every Sunday in the fall in gut-wrenching agony; I prefer to use the offseason for non-Purple-related activities, if only to remind myself that I may indeed be a sane person.

But I watched. Of course I watched. I had to watch, because I work with sports fans and all of my friends and family are sports fans and I knew, come Friday, we were going to talk about the NFL Draft. It's like doing the required reading in English class.

I'm promising myself that I'm now waiting until the season starts to think about the Vikings. Except for the preseason, of course, I'll have to watch that. And I'll have to read the training camp reports. And I'm sure somebody will want to talk about minicamp. And... man, the offseason is the worst.

*On with the links:

*It's rare that a writer can define an athlete's career and change the course of it at the same time, with one article, but that's what Charlie Pierce did with his Esquire story about Tiger Woods in the spring of 1997. Grantland has the director's cut of the piece, with a bunch of added footnotes, including the fact that Pierce wrote the whole thing in two and a half hours, which is the approximate amount of time I've spent writing just this one sentence you're reading right now. Charlie Pierce is a genius and a monster.

*Brian Phillips followed the Iditarod by air, and turned out a book-length piece that is one of the great accounts of participatory sports journalism you'll find, now that George Plimpton has passed on into the great beyond.

*If you'd ask me why Mike Pelfrey has struggled, I would have offered the following scientific opinion: "He stinks out loud." Luckily, we have Parker Hageman to break it down and actually demonstrate five things that are wrong for Pelfrey right now.

*Graham Parker writes about Shrovetide Football, perhaps my favorite stupid English sports tradition this side of the Eton wall game.

*Kobe Bryant has quit tweeting during games. Sports on Earth's Will Leitch thinks that's a shame - especially since in some ways it was the apex of sports social media.

*And finally: North Carolina spring football is getting weird.

Weekend Links with Jon Marthaler: Here's hoping for some Target Field doubleheaders

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated: April 20, 2013 - 11:20 AM


Jon Marthaler bakes up a delicious batch of links for you every weekend. Other times, you can find him here. Jon?



The Twins have had three games canceled this week, leading to some down-the-road scheduling problems, including a pretty good possibility of a day-night doubleheader with the White Sox. Most people, I think, know the day-night doubleheader drill - the teams play once, clear the stadium, then play again that evening, effectively as if the teams played a day game and a night game on the same day.

Now, players hate doubleheaders -- you would too, if you had to work a double shift. Managers hate them for ruining pitching staffs. Front offices hate them for causing more logistical headaches than they're worth. And so the scheduled doubleheader has disappeared from modern baseball.

Frankly, though, as a fan I can't think of anything better. I'm someone who takes work off each year for the first two days of the NCAA tournament because of its wall-to-wall basketball; if the Twins scheduled a traditional back-to-back doubleheader, I can guarantee I would buy tickets, at almost any price. An entire day of baseball? What could be better than that?

I know that this terrible extended winter is causing problems for the Twins' schedule, and I know that nobody from the team wants two games on the same day. But I can't help hoping that, somehow, this leads to six straight hours of baseball at Target Field later this season.

* On with the links:

* Jesse Lund at Twinkie Town did a long and interesting Q&A with Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony. And if facts aren't your forte, RandBall's own Stu also wrote an Onion-style article about the Twins' new $15 "All You Can Yell" promotion.

* John Gagliardi is in many ways Minnesota's living football saint, but out in Washington, their own passed away - Pacific Lutheran coach Frosty Westering. Chuck Culpepper at Sports on Earth writes about his career and legacy.

* The TVFury blog has an engrossing interview with sportswriter, columnist, and best-selling author Peter Richmond.

* Eight years ago, former NFL defensive tackle Al Lucas died from an on-field hit during an Arena Football game. At Grantland, Robert Weintraub writes about Lucas's life -- and considers how the NFL would deal with this kind of tragedy.

* At The Classical, Colin McGowan listens to a Bill Simmons / Colin Cowherd podcast, and wonders, in his words, "how this could possibly be what so many people want."

* Grantland's Graham Parker reviews the history, and the new incarnation, of the entirely fan-created MLS Supporters' Shield. At the same site, Brian Phillips looks at the career of Matt Le Tissier, who at 44 is temporarily coming out of retirement to play for his obscure local club on the island of Guernsey.

TFD: You will never see a penalty kick this bad again. Ever.

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated: April 16, 2013 - 6:05 PM

You wouldn't even miss a PK this badly if you were intentionally trying to lose.


TFD: A player hit with a pear is enough to stop a soccer game in Sweden

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated: April 8, 2013 - 9:09 PM

Per the Associated Press ... we would love to hear from someone who was at both the Chuck Knoblauch hot dog game and the Swedish soccer pear game. If it's not Jon Marthaler, though, we don't know who it would be.

A Swedish league match between Djurgarden and Mjallby was abandoned Monday after a Mjallby player was hit by a pear.

Angry fans at Djurgarden's home stadium in Stockholm threw bottles, coins, fruit and other objects onto the pitch as Mjallby's players celebrated a goal in the 37th minute.

Television footage showed Mjallby defender Gbenga Arokoyo falling to the ground after an object hit him in the stomach. Swedish broadcaster SVT said it was a pear.

Arokoyo said after the game he was in pain but not seriously injured.

The referees decided to abandon the match after a meeting with police and representatives from both clubs. It wasn't immediately clear when and if the match would be resumed.


Weekend Links with Jon Marthaler: The DIY soccer movement + Dunk City

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated: April 6, 2013 - 12:40 PM


Jon Marthaler bakes up a delicious batch of links for you every weekend. Other times, you can find him here. Jon?


At the Experience Music Project museum in Seattle, there is currently a large hallway on the second floor devoted to the band Nirvana. The exhibit, almost necessarily, not only tells the story of Kurt Cobain and company, but also covers the entire history of the grunge movement. In the exhibit, there are three or four interactive kiosks, at which you can slap on a pair of headphones and listen to hours of interviews with fans, musicians, people who started record companies, people who ran slapdash recording studios - the entire scene, in other words.

You can, and I did, spend half a day just at the kiosks. Throughout the videos, one emotion really shines through from just about every interviewee: pride, at having built something without major record labels or support, at the DIY spirit that characterized the time and place. They created an entire music culture, one that came to define the 1990s, and they did it by putting on their own shows and making their own posters and album covers and driving around on tour in beat-up vans, and they're justifiably proud of being part of that.

One of the recurring themes in this Saturday column is that there's no sense arguing whether soccer will ever make it in America, because it already has. But one of the great things about being a soccer fan is that, alone among the professional sports, there's still that wonderful sense of that same DIY spirit. I love the pro teams in this town, but the Twins and Vikings, Wolves and Wild, even Lynx and Swarm and St. Paul Saints, are all a take-it-or-leave it proposition. You show up, pay your money, cheer when the scoreboard says, and go find your car in the ramp after the game.

Those teams are great, don't get me wrong. But I have a very soft spot in my heart for the soccer fans in this town, and in this country. They've built an entire soccer culture by themselves, just like the grunge and hardcore fans in the Pacific Northwest did in the 1980s in Seattle. Maybe it's no coincidence that the MLS teams with the best atmosphere are in Seattle and Portland.

Minnesota's pro soccer season opens tonight at the Metrodome, and if you stop by, examine the fans. Tell me who looks happier, and prouder, and like they're enjoying themselves more - the fans who showed up just to pay their money, or the chanting, singing, flag-waving, DIY-proud group behind the goal?

*On with the links:

*Parker Hageman of Twins Daily spoke with Twins closer Glen Perkins about pitching, Pitchf/x data, and advanced metrics, and the result is pretty fascinating.

*You may not have noticed, but the Timberwolves have won a few lately. Steve McPherson at A Wolf Among Wolves, in response to Minnesota's win over Oklahoma City, thinks he knows why - and he can explain it best by explaining what he knows about music composition.

*We'll all remember Florida Gulf Coast University as "Dunk City" from this spring's NCAA tournament. Spencer Hall visited Fort Myers, home of FGCU, to watch them play Florida, and find out what Dunk City is really like.

*I can't really summarize Colin McGowan's piece at Deadspin any better than the title can: Gus Johnson will be the voice of soccer, even if he has to ruin the Champions League to get there.

*And finally: it's hypnotic. I can't look away.


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