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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TFD: Read an excerpt of local author's book on ugly MLB brawl, redemption

Posted by: Michael Rand under Professional baseball, Target Field Updated: April 23, 2014 - 4:40 PM

Local author John Rosengren has a new book out titled, "The Fight of Their Lives," which chronicles not only the infamous 1965 brawl ignited when Juan Marichal hit John Roseboro on the head with a bat, but also the story that followed.

Rosengren dropped us an e-mail this week to let us know the book is excerpted in SI.com. He describes the work thusly: "I was drawn to this event as a baseball story, set in the context of the Dodgers-Giants rivalry, then saw it had deeper cultural dimensions, dealing with Latino immigration and domestic racial tensions, but when I learned the two men turned their fight into an occasion of redemption, I knew it was my kind of story, one I had to write."

Rosengren has multiple local events coming up to promote the book, including one May 2 at Target Field. If this sounds interesting, have a look-see at the excerpt at SI.com.

Adrian Peterson is most-Googled athlete in Minnesota, three other states

Posted by: Michael Rand under Vikings Updated: April 23, 2014 - 2:41 PM

Here's fun info graphic that ESPN tweeted out this morning. Looks like Adrian Peterson has the region on lockdown when it comes to Google searches. Also: LeBron James is ridiculously popular nationwide, but that's no surprise.

Wednesday (Joe Mauer piling up strikeouts) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand under Twins fans Updated: April 23, 2014 - 9:41 AM

 

Joe Mauer is still very much capable of squaring up a ball and hitting it sharply. Just ask David Price's protective cup, which Mauer blasted on the fly for an infield single Tuesday.

 

As a matter of fact, 28.3 percent of all balls he's put into play this season have been line drives -- a small sample size, but the highest number of any season in his career. The best full season was 2013, when his line drive rate was 27.7 percent.

Last year and this year, however, also have a more disturbing trend in common: a rapidly increasing strikeout total for a player who used to be one of the tougher guys in MLB to whiff.

Mauer had two more strikeouts last night, giving him 24 in just 19 games. That's obviously more than one per game for a guy whose career average is more like a strikeout every other game.

And the strikeouts have been coming in bunches. Mauer has 12 career games with three or more strikeouts (11 with three, one with four). Half of them have come in either 2013 or 2014. He has struck out either two or three times in nine of his 19 games this season.

As pointed out by Parker Hageman, Mauer is struggling particularly this season against non-fastballs, with just a .161 average against off-speed stuff before last night's game. He also hasn't fared well with two strikes, something he used to be well above-average at doing.

The big question is: should we worry? Part of us wants to say no because this is a 19-game sample size for a player with a much longer track record of success. He was striking out at a one per game rate for about the first third of last season before he started putting more balls in play, so there should be some adjustment coming.

Part of us, though, is concerned. When he was fanning last year, he was still maintaining a high average and hitting for power; through 49 games in 2013, he had 49 Ks but a .492 slugging percentage and .332 batting average. This year, he has just three extra base hits in 19 games. He just turned 31, and we can't forget that a concussion ended his 2013 season.

In other words, it's not time to pull the alarm yet ... but if we check back at, say, the 50-game mark and Mauer is still trending downward, you have our permission to be very concerned.

TFD: Ex-Twin Denard Span saw the strangest pitch last night

Posted by: Michael Rand under Professional baseball, Twins fans Updated: April 22, 2014 - 5:12 PM

Former Twins outfielder Denard Span is known for generally having good plate discipline. But there's ball four ... and then there's a pitch so wild that it does this:

Michigan's Nik Stauskas to Wolves in latest ESPN NBA mock draft

Posted by: Michael Rand under Wolves news Updated: April 22, 2014 - 3:18 PM

Just when you thought we were getting close to the end of mock draft season (with the NFL), it's time to start thinking about the NBA.

The draft is roughly two months away, and as long as the Suns don't leapfrog the Wolves in the lottery, a prospect that has a 5 in 1,000 chance of happening, Minnesota will have the No. 13 overall pick in the draft. (If somehow the Wolves get jumped, which would be just their luck, they lose their pick because they fall to No. 14 in the draft order and the pick, part of a long-ago trade, is top-13 protected).

In any event, the draft is one place the Wolves can try to improve their roster. With 12 players under contract for next year, this will be one of their best places to add a piece beyond getting creative with a trade (which also means subtraction).

As such, here is where ESPN.com has the Wolves going with that No. 13 pick:

Nik Stauskas, Michigan, 6-6 shooting guard: The Wolves' biggest need right now continues to be shooting. Stauskas is one of the true elite shooters in the draft. He has unlimited range, a super-quick release, and as a bonus, he can play point guard in a pinch.

That would work for us. Your thoughts, please, in the comments.

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