Staff Directory 6370614

Michael Rand

Digital sports editor | StarTribune.com
Phone: 612-673-7564

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
Twins relief pitcher Ron Davis lowered his head after allowing a run to Cleveland late in 1984.

At least that wasn't the worst 11-10 loss to Cleveland in Twins history

The year was 1984, and Ron Davis was at the heart of it as usual.
Anthony Edwards of the Wolves.

Who are the 10 most 'lovable' local pro athletes for the next decade?

From Joe Ryan to Napheesa Collier and Luis Arraez, a revised list felt necessary after a similar list from 2015 was brought to our attention.
U.S. soccer legends Tony Sanneh, left, and Cobi Jones.

Cobi Jones on how far Major League Soccer has come, and the path forward

The former Los Angeles Galaxy and U.S. National Team standout was in St. Paul recently promoting the MLS All-Star Game.
Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns (32) grabs a rebound against the Bulls.

Timberwolves best off-season move? A position switch for KAT

The most important offseason move for the Wolves could be this one: Trading Karl-Anthony Towns, center, for Karl-Anthony Towns, power forward. That would set up some other options that could benefit the team.
Minnesota Twins Senior Vice President and General Manager Thad Levine and Executive Vice President and Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey.

It's never too early to think about the Twins and the trading deadline

A promising start to the season might have shifted the Twins' mid-year priorities, and the expanded playoffs may also have an impact on who may be available — and when.
Twins starter Sonny Gray has been on the injured list with hamstring tightness since pitching April 16.

Even with steep price and injuries, Gray has been worth it for Twins

Having a veteran pitcher of Sonny Gray's caliber changes the dimension of a team, even though keeping him healthy is going to be a constant concern.
Timberwolves guard D’Angelo Russell is the subject of offseason trade rumors.

Wolves reportedly shopping Russell, but will they find a buyer?

Keep this in mind: The Wolves wanting to trade D'Angelo Russell, who has one year left on a contract that will pay him $30 million next season, isn't the same as another team agreeing to it.
Is Apple TV's soccer deal a first step in changing how we watch (and pay for) sports?

Is Apple TV's soccer deal a first step in changing how we watch (and pay for) sports?

You can see good and bad in the deal with Major League Soccer — and a whole lot that we don't know yet. There are certainly some things to watch out for, however.
Minnesota Twins third baseman Gio Urshela, center, is congratulated by teammates for a game-winning RBI on May 23 vs. Detroit.

Five unsung heroes for the surprising first-place Twins

Success has appeared fragile at times because of expectations and injuries, but the Twins have kept on winning at a high rate. Here are five players who have helped the team along.
A.J. Pierzynski was a catcher for both the Twins and White Sox during a long playing career.

Pierzynski as White Sox manager would add fire to Twins/Sox rivalry

A Chicago Tribune column about the possibility was interestingly timed.
Gary Sanchez has been an important player for the Twins this season.

Grading the Twins' offseason: Best and worst moves so far

Holdovers have fueled some of the strong play. But newcomers have also played an outsized role, making this a good time to evaluate just what has happened in the first two months of the season.
Gophers basketball coaches Lindsay Whalen and Ben Johnson

For Whalen, Johnson there's no time anymore for a break from basketball

With the transfer portal changing team dynamics and with competition for players as fierce as ever, slowing down and reflecting aren't part of a jam-packed calendar for coaches.
Gophers Athletic Director Mark Coyle

U's Coyle says he deals with name, image, likeness issues 'every hour'

Athletic director Mark Coyle chose his words carefully, saying the university will make "value-based decisions" and educate athletes about NIL rules amid a "clunky" early implementation.
Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Ryan Saunders and Andrew Wiggins (22). 

 

 ] CARLOS GONZALEZ • cgonzalez@startribune.com – Minneapolis, MN

Wiggins hype continues, even if he was a 'risk' to Ryan Saunders' health

After the NBA Finals, the Golden State Warriors must reckon with the future of Andrew Wiggins, who is playing well but is too well paid. Our report includes an incident involving Saunders during Wiggins' years in Minnesota.
Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Kevin Gausman throws to a Minnesota Twins batter in the first inning Sunday.

Did Twins know what pitches were coming from Toronto ace Gausman?

In-game analysis and postgame comments suggest the Twins picked up on something that helped them lay off Kevin Gausman's excellent splitter. Here's a look at the evidence.
Tim Connelly helped build the Nuggets into a playoff team as president of basketball operations.

Denver executive calls Wolves hiring of Tim Connelly 'desperate'

In what Denver media said was Josh Kroenke's first media appearance in more than four years, he provided some insight into how Minnesota hired Connelly away from the Nuggets.
Former Gophers head coach Tim Brewster is headed to Jackson State to be part of Deion Sanders’ staff.

Former Gophers coach Brewster joins Deion Sanders on Jackson State staff

The ex-Gophers head coach spent the last two years as associate head coach and tight ends coach at Florida, but after a coaching change with the Gators he was not retained.
Minnesota Twins' Nick Gordon runs the bases on his solo home run against the Kansas City Royals in the fourth inning of a baseball game Sunday, May 29

The Twins could lose a lot soon, but it might not matter in AL Central

A look at the team's history of contending teams in the last 20 years shows a defined pattern: Beat up on weak division foes and tread water everywhere else.
Third base umpire Chris Guccione, left, separates New York Yankees third baseman Josh Donaldson, center, and Chicago White Sox’s Tim Anderson.

Advice for Josh Donaldson: Just stop talking, you're only making it worse

It doesn't seem like a coincidence that so many Twins have talked so glowingly about this year's chemistry, both with new additions and subtractions, including Donaldson's departure.
Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry.

Golden State in the NBA Finals: From dynasty to the bottom and back

The Warriors made it to the finals for five years in a row. Then they were crushed by injuries and questionable draft picks. And somehow they're back playing for another championship.
Karl-Anthony Towns and Jarred Vanderbilt of the Timberwolves.

Three ways new Wolves boss Tim Connelly can approach the offseason

Run it back. Reshape the core. Blow it up. What will the Wolves do?
Dalvin Cook running against the Rams.

Despite similar roster, here's how Vikings can climb into playoffs

The challenge for new head coach Kevin O'Connell and his staff will be to rachet up the team's efficiency. Here are three reasons for hope — and one big concern.
Justin Jefferson, Karl-Anthony Towns and Kevin Fiala will all be eligible for large contracts in the near future.

Show them the money? Will Towns, Jefferson, Fiala get new contracts?

Three big contract questions — two of them facing the newest decision-makers in town — will come to a head soon. Things could get interesting very quickly.
Byron Buxton has been in a slump.

Buxton's slump is a reminder that it's all about sample size

It was just 10 days ago that Byron Buxton was sporting an OPS over 1.000. And it was nine days ago when he last got a hit. So what's up with 'the best player in the world?'
A billboard depicting Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic hangs on a building in Belgrade, Serbia.

What did new Wolves president Tim Connelly accomplish in Denver?

The Timberwolves made their biggest non-player splash in six years Monday. Fans can only hope this move turns out better than the last one — the hiring of Tom Thibodeau.
Minnesota Twins pitcher Joe Smith smiles during a game on May 15.

It's almost June, and Twins reliever Joe Smith finally gave up a run

The "transactions" section on Twins reliever Joe Smith's Baseball Reference page takes longer to read than it does to watch a typical Smith outing.
The signature move of the Gersson Rosas era has been filled with ups and downs.

Playoffs add another dimension to Wolves' Wiggins-for-Russell deal

The Wolves could use the current version of Andrew Wiggins, but would that have been possible in Minnesota?
Bud Grant in 1967 and in 2022.

Reflections on the journey of a lifetime. Bud Grant at 95

The legendary Vikings coach is 95 years old today, a milestone made even more impressive because he cheated death at age 29.
Minnesota Twins second baseman Jorge Polanco leads the team in games played once again.

In praise of Polanco, the Twins' most productive everyday player

Jorge Polanco has been a fixture in the lineup since 2019. With rest and recovery part of the discussion these days, Polanco's durability (in addition to his performance) stands out.
Jalen Suggs (1) celebrated with Chet Holmgren (34) in early 2020 while teammates at Minnehaha Academy.

Mock draft: A Magic reunion for Minnehaha stars Suggs, Holmgren?

Orlando has landed the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft. Will they use the pick to reunited former Minnehaha Academy stars Jalen Suggs and Chet Holmgren? And what will the Wolves do?
Kevin Fiala, center, and Jared Spurgeon (46) celebrate an overtime game winner in April.

Kevin Fiala is very good for the Wild, but he's not irreplaceable

The Wild will be faced with a tough decision on Fiala this offseason. The most likely outcome is that he leaves.
Minnesota Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson (18) in a game late last season.

Prediction: Game-by-game path leads to 10-win season for Vikings

The schedule came out late last week, and after digesting it for a while, there is a lot to like for the Vikings.
Los Angeles Clippers guard Patrick Beverley (21) smiles after fouling Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul in the 2021 playoffs. Beverley was called for a fl

Pat Bev roasts Paul after Suns' Game 7 collapse. 'CP can't guard nobody.'

Wolves guard Patrick Beverley loves to talk trash. Patrick Beverley also very much does not love Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul, a rivalry that dates back to when they were teenagers.
Minnesota Wild's Kevin Fiala (22) reaches for the puck next to St. Louis Blues' Niko Mikkola (77) during the third period in Game 6 of an NHL hockey S

What went wrong for the Wild? These numbers tell the story

Kevin Fiala's playoff output? No goals, 16 penalty minutes. Power play goals? Blues 8, Wild 4. Here's a look at more of the numbers that led to the Wild's playoff disappointment.
Lewis Cine was Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s first Vikings draft pick.

Five takeaways from behind-the-scenes at the Vikings draft

The Vikings posted a 20-minute video that gives a good look at their process and personalities.
From the 1982 Twins season, their first at the Metrodome.

40 years ago, Wednesday would have played out much differently

Had last night played out 40 years ago, with the storm ripping through Minneapolis as it did, the official orders most likely would have been to play on. That was when the Metrodome opened.
 The Wild beat the Colorado Avalanche 3-2 in overtime in Game 6 in 2003.

Can the resilient Wild conjure up more Game 6 magic?

A franchise that hasn't had a lot of postseason success has found it late in series at times.
U.S. Bank Stadium was rocking in 2021, but overall the NFL didn’t have much of a home-field edge.

Hopes and doubts: 5 things to follow in Minnesota sports right now

Home field advantage. Injury luck. Regression vs. permanence. These stories are playing out among Minnesota's pro sports teams.
Minnesota Twins relief pitcher Emilio Pagan, right, celebrates with catcher Gary Sanchez (24) after defeating the Oakland Athletics on Sunday.

Twins dominating one-run games thanks to Pagan's high-wire act

The reliever, acquired as part of the Taylor Rogers trade, has gone to the brink many times before saving himself.
Twins player Royce Lewis (4) headed to another field for drills during spring training.

Will Royce Lewis be the next great young Twin Cities athlete?

The list of talented and accomplished pro athletes who are 25-and-under in the Twin Cities sports market is perhaps the best thing to point to when thinking optimistically about future championships.
Minnesota United goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair reacts after making multiple saves in a row during a win in April.

Given opportunity, Loons' St. Clair has been best goalkeeper in MLS

The Loons keeper has the best save percentage and is among the league leaders in goals allowed per 90 minutes.
Bally Sports plans $19.99 monthly streaming deal. Will you buy?

Bally Sports plans $19.99 monthly streaming deal. Will you buy?

Sinclair, which owns the regional sports networks under the Bally brand, said today that it plans to do a "soft launch" of its streaming service before July 1.
Fans headed up the stairs after St. Louis scored in the third period.

Minnesota fans numb to the pain after yet another playoff defeat

Fans who might have been genuinely optimistic Monday before the Wild-Blues series started have been restored to their factory settings: Hoping for the best, expecting the worst.
Timberwolves coach Chris Finch, left, benched D’Angelo Russell in the fourth quarter of Game 6 against Memphis.

Wolves have a D'Angelo Russell conundrum on their hands

there's no getting around this fact: In the biggest game of the year, with the season on the line, Russell was benched in favor of a former undrafted free agent.
Donald Verhota booed after hearing the announcement that the Vikings traded their No. 12 pick for No. 32 at the team’s draft party Thursday.

Winning over fans will be long-term process for new Vikings regime

With the Vikings on the clock at No. 12 in the first draft run by GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, fans had all sorts of anticipation — followed by all kinds of disappointment.
 Jarred Vanderbilt  dunked during Game 5.

No matter what happens Friday, Wolves have exceeded expectations

Maybe that sounds too positive right now. You're still upset about those blown leads in Games 3 and 5. You're too nervous about what's going to happen Friday. At some point, though, you're going to see things for what they've been this season.
Minnesota Timberwolves forward Anthony Edwards (1) shoots against Memphis Grizzlies forward Brandon Clarke (15) on Tuesday.

Anthony Edwards embodies all of the Wolves' playoff highs and lows

The Wolves absolutely needed a lot more from the 20-year-old Edwards on Tuesday, but here's the question: Is it too much to ask for more, at least for now?
Vikings General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and new head coach Kevin O’Connell.

Draft will be first real look at how new Vikings leadership operates

There are few constraints with the draft, at least compared to moves that have already been made.
Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns (32) drives past Memphis Grizzlies forward Xavier Tillman during Game 4.

Wolves show difference between how we watch, how players play

Confidence is never in short supply, even when it might not be warranted.
Fans cheer during introductions of game 3 Thursday.

When Saturday night arrives, pain of Timberwolves' loss will be fresh again

Just as we are left to wonder what sort of effort the Wolves will muster in Game 4, the same can be said about anticipating how the crowd will treat Saturday night's game.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance (5) walks off the field on Jan. 2.

A year after being drafted, Marshall's Lance is where he wants to be

The former North Dakota State standout was picked No. 3 overall last year by the San Francisco 49ers. This year could be his time to shine.
Wolves game was unwatchable, literally and figuratively

Wolves game was unwatchable, literally and figuratively

Local fans frustrated by their inability to watch their favorite teams had a round of fresh complaints during Tuesday's Wolves game.
April 22, 2003: The only time when the Wild and Wolves won playoff games on the same day.

A singular moment in Wolves + Wild history was 19 years ago this week

Both teams have had stretches of successful years. But what about the Wolves and Wild having good seasons at the same time? Here's an indication of how rare that's been.
Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns (32) shoots during Game 1 Saturday.

Memphis 21, Wolves 0: Game 1 win creates chance to fool every single 'expert'

All 21 of ESPN's panelists picked the Grizzlies to win the series (and so did RandBall). But Minnesota's Game 1 upset has turned the series into a toss-up.
LSU’s Derek Stingley Jr. (right) is one of the cornerbacks that draft experts think could end up with the Vikings.

ESPN's Kiper on Vikings' first round draft pick: 'It just screams corner'

Plenty of mock drafts have the Vikings taking a cornerback with their first-round pick in the NFL draft, which is less than two weeks away. Will they pick the right one?
Miguel Sano is hitless in 19 at-bats and has struck out in almost half of them.

One day, one hit, one rough week. Is a Twins identity crisis starting up?

It wasn't just the way Clayton Kershaw chewed up the Twins. The offensive woes have run much deeper during the first week of the season.
Karl Anthony-Towns reacts after being called for a foul in the third quarter Tuesday.

It's OK for the Wolves to have joy — and fans to admit the refs were fine

Years of losing have conditioned us to have some strange responses in Minnesota.
Kirk Cousins might not retire as a Viking, but he's already one of us

Kirk Cousins might not retire as a Viking, but he's already one of us

Perfect passive-aggressive comments? Lots of hand gesturing? The Vikings QB has some of the telltale signs of a Minnesotan.
Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns (32) shoots on Los Angeles Clippers guard Paul George, left, and Clippers guard Reggie Jackson, right

Can Wolves win a 'bad' matchup to earn a 'good' one in the playoffs?

The Wolves are 1-3 against the Clippers this season. How much does that matter given how much teams change over the course of a season?
Trade country: Welcome to Fear and Loathing at Target Field

Trade country: Welcome to Fear and Loathing at Target Field

Derek Falvey and Thad Levine are running a gonzo front office with all of their Twins deal-making. And it's wildly entertaining.
Minnesota Vikings kicker Greg Joseph reacts to missing a game-winning field goal attempt against the Arizona Cardinals, one of seven games the Vikings

A suggestion for the 2022 Vikings: Try holding the leads you take

The Vikings held a lead at some point in 15 of 17 games last season, but that only translated into eight wins. A quick piece of advice: Do better at that.
Fans in the Club level kicked back and enjoyed a perfect day for an outdoor baseball game when the Twins opened Target Field in 2010.

Glorious April of Target Field's debut gave false sense of weather security

In April 2010, when the ballpark opened, the average high temperature, was 66 degrees. Most years since then have been considerably colder.
Twins manager Rocco Baldelli talked with an umpire during a game Sunday in Fort Myers, Fla.

This is the hardest Twins team to predict in a long time

Recent Twins teams have either far exceeded or fallen short of expectations. But at least we had a basis for what we thought we knew before the first pitch was thrown.
For Wild and Wolves, it's time to set new (and higher) expectations

For Wild and Wolves, it's time to set new (and higher) expectations

Modest goals were appropriate at the start of the year. But now? Fans can have higher hopes because of the success we're seeing heading toward the NHL and NBA postseasons.
Sights and sounds: Cultural relevance of women's basketball on display all weekend

Sights and sounds: Cultural relevance of women's basketball on display all weekend

"Just talk about the sold-out crowd," Lynx star Natalie Achonwa said.
Gritty new forward Deslauriers brings fight to the Wild

Gritty new forward Deslauriers brings fight to the Wild

A shiner and stitches are just part of the job for recently acquired forward Nicolas Deslauriers, and the evidence was on display when he sat down for an interview.
Ronnell Harris, a native of Kansas City, held a sign reading “I NEED TICKETS” across the street from Target Center.

Sights and sounds: Downtown Minneapolis comes alive for Women's Final Four

Out and about in and around Target Center. Friday felt normal, which also feels different.
Entering Monday night, Justin Jefferson’s 1,288 receiving yards ranked second in the league behind only the Rams’ Cooper Kupp.

What are the odds? Vikings 2022 victory total stuck in the middle

All the changes made by the Vikings haven't done much for Las Vegas oddsmakers when it comes to moving the needle on the team's projected victory total.
Kirk Cousins.

Has Kirk Cousins gotten a head coach who gets him — and wants him?

Unlike how things were under Mike Zimmer, the Vikings quarterback appears to have a coach in Kevin O'Connell who understands how Cousins thinks.
Lindsey Vonn, Olympic champion.

Will Lindsey Vonn slow down? Not a chance

The world champ is retired now, but don't expect her to spend too much time lounging at Panera Bread.
Carl Pavano (left) and Mike Pelfrey.

Chris Archer: The next Carl Pavano ... or the next Mike Pelfrey?

The Twins have a long history of reclamation projects. Their 2022 hopes might hinge on whether the latest with Chris Archer is successful.
Bailey Ober showed promise last year, but he rarely went deep into the game in his 20 starts as a rookie.

Twins can hit and field. Pitching? That's still the mystery it was before

If we went into the offseason figuring pitching was the team's most glaring potential weakness, we are still in that same spot with the opener looming next week.
Minnesota Wild fans celebrated during last year’s playoffs.

Every Minnesota pro team a contender to make playoffs — and maybe more

Are we entering an era of competence and confidence? All six major pro teams in Minnesota are playoff-worthy, which hasn't been the case for years.
Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton (22) shoots against Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns on Wednesday.

Burned by Suns: Wolves have come far, but still have long way to go

The Timberwolves have earned a spot in the NBA play-in tournament and will finish with a winning record. Now they'll see how hard it is to win when the stakes are higher.
Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah

In Smith signing, Vikings make first departure from old regime

The first week of free agency had a real "same as it ever was" feel for the Vikings until Tuesday, when they signed Za'Darius Smith, the ex-Packers linebacker and pass-rushing specialist.