TFD: Sadly, Robbie Hummel does not, in fact, have a hip-hop album coming out

hummelTimberwolves forward Robbie Hummel, who along with former Wolves forward Brian Cardinal accounts for half of all games ever played at Purdue, announced via Instagram a couple of days ago that he had finished work on a hip-hop album.

Implausible? Sure.

Did we want to believe it? Yes.

He even added some fake lyrics to a fake song along the way via Twitter.

Sadly, though, the dream is dead. Hummel is not, in fact, a rap star. It’s just another sports hoax. Probably the biggest one this week.

He’s just a basketball player with a wet jump shot and a good sense of humor. After announcing his “retirement” from rapping, he tweeted this on Thursday:

Haha ok since people still think I’m making a rap album…it was all a joke..I was in a studio recording a voiceover for a commercial.

If you ever get serious, Robbie, give us a call. We can find an old Casio and a surprising number of phrases that sort of rhyme with anterior cruciate ligament.

Women’s fantasy football writers create “relationship-based” player rankings

Maybe we shouldn’t be offended by this because we’re not the target market.

Or maybe — wait, probably … check that, definitely — it’s just simply offensive that in the year 2014, there is a fantasy football rating system, separated out for women, created by three sisters, sanctioned and promoted by ESPN on its “W” brand, that brags about the following:

You can find all sorts of incredible analysis and debate about whether Peyton Manning is a better pick than Aaron Rodgers, and we read all of it. But sometimes it feels like fantasy analysts end up competing over who can apply the most obscure stat to each player’s projections. Seriously, no one cares if a quarterback has the fifth-best completion percentage on balls thrown 38 or more yards down the field. Especially since he probably only does it once a game.

So we have tried to simplify things, and that’s why we have a simple relationship-based rating system that cuts through all of the clutter. LeSean McCoy and Calvin Johnson are two of the very best players in the game, so we consider them “Marriage Material” (elite players). Arian Foster and Andre Johnson? “Boyfriend Potential” (terrific catches). Wes Welker and Vernon Davis — “It’s Complicated” (pretty good placeholders until you find something better). And so on.

That’s right, ladies. Are those numbers and stats too complicated for your brains? Well, maybe if we dumb it down to a People Magazine-style HAWT or NAWT rating, you can crush the other dimwitted women in your league.

We showed it to a female co-worker, and before we even got to that excerpted part, she said, “I’m already offended.”

We imagine she’s hardly alone.

A heckling scout, an ice cream sandwich and a player taking a bat into the stands

As near as we can tell from a report:

*Jesus Montero is on a rehab assignment with the Mariners’ AA affiliate.

*A scout employed by the Mariners was heckling him during a game.

*Montero went after him with a bat.

That’s just the summary. Here are a few grafs from MILB.com:

Seattle’s Jesus Montero was involved in an altercation during short-season Everett’s game at Boise on Thursday. The first baseman exchanged words with a Mariners crosschecker and reportedly had to be physically restrained while attempting to enter the stands with a bat during the argument.

Montero was coaching first base, and at the end of an inning, the unidentified crosschecker yelled at him to hustle off the field, according to Boise official scorer Liza Safford. Montero then headed to the AquaSox dugout on the third-base side.

According to a game offical, the crosschecker then ordered an ice cream sandwich and had it sent to Montero in the dugout, escalating the confrontation further. The official said Montero — who arrived at Mariners Spring Training 40 pounds overweight this season — approached the stands with a bat while screaming profanities and threw the sandwich at the crosschecker. Montero had to be pulled back from the stands by Everett pitching coach Nasusel Cabrera, Safford said.

Crosscheckers are intermediate-level scouts who verify the reports of regional scouts and pass on recommendations to their teams’ scouting directors.

This proves a point hammered home in The Big Lebowski: You don’t [redacted] with The Jesus.

Hopefully there is video of this somewhere, somehow. Please.

Friday (Did Jerry Jones tamper with Adrian Peterson?) edition: Wha’ Happened?

jerryjonesOne interesting side note from the Jerry Jones/Adrian Peterson story that emerged Thursday is the notion of tampering — which the NFL has taken seriously to varying degrees in the past.

Jones, who fielded a phone call from Peterson that was reported on in an ESPN story, says he thinks he’s in the clear, per the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram:

I understand the tampering thing, and you have to be an initiator,” Jones said. “It was good talking to [Peterson]. I’m a big admirer of him. We were talking about Texas. I really love his story, especially as to how it relates to his father. That’s mostly what we talked about. Certainly, that was about it.”

But does he really understand it? Pro Football Talk digs out the tampering language, and it sure sounds like even if Peterson called Jones, there could be trouble. Here is the rule, per PFT:

If a club is contacted by a player (or his representative) who is under contract to or whose negotiating rights are held by another club, and such player had not been given permission to deal with other clubs, or such player is not in a permissible negotiating period under the terms of an operative collective bargaining agreement, then the contacted club is prohibited from talking or otherwise dealing with the player or his representative, and the contacted club must immediately report such contact to the owner or operating head of the club which holds the player’s rights.”

Again, we’ll see if this goes anywhere or just dies in a day or two.

Vikings RB Adrian Peterson reportedly wants to play for the Cowboys someday

petersonPer ESPN.com:

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson told Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones in a June telephone call he would like to play for the Cowboys at the end of his tenure with the Vikings, according to an “Outside the Lines” report.

“Well, I understand, Adrian,” Jones told Peterson during the call. “I’d like that, too … Well, I love your story. I love your daddy’s story. I’ve always respected what you’ve been about. I’ve always been a fan of yours.”

The telephone call is recounted as part of an expansive “Outside the Lines”/ESPN the Magazine profile of Jones by ESPN senior writer Don Van Natta Jr. that was published Thursday.

What’s interesting, of course, is that in the actual longer profile the version is a little different. Peterson never explicitly says he wants to play for the Cowboys — or at least we don’t get to hear that part of the conversation.

Then a man taps Jones on the shoulder, says Adrian Peterson wants to say hello and hands over an iPhone. Jones says hi to the Minnesota Vikings’ star running back and listens, nodding but not smiling. “Well, I understand, Adrian,” he says into the phone. The slanted smile returns. “I’d like that, too. … Well, I love your story. I love your daddy’s story. I’ve always respected what you’ve been about. I’ve always been a fan of yours.”

Listening to half the conversation, it is obvious Peterson is telling Jones he wants to play for the Cowboys. Peterson, 29, is in the fourth year of a seven-year, $100 million contract that will pay him $11.75 million this autumn to play for the Vikings.

“Well, we’ll see what we can do, if we can make that happen,” Jones is now saying. “Hmm-hmm. … I’d like that, too.”

In a statement released by the Vikings a few minutes after the ESPN report was posted, Peterson is quoted as saying: “This was a casual conversation between NFL colleagues in which I never indicated I wanted to leave the Vikings. I have always said I understand the NFL is a business but that I would love to retire as a Viking.”

The Vikings added: “We are focused on the 2014 season, and as we have consistently communicated, Adrian is an integral part of the Vikings organization.”

We look forward to seeing how the Vikings try to handle this, but we do not look forward to the endless hand-wringing of Vikings fans. Then again, Peterson is 29 years old, and some have suggested this could be his final year in Minnesota because of the way his contract is structured.  Peterson, of course, is a Texas native and has said in previous interviews he was a big Cowboys fan growing up.

Thursday (A defining season of Gophers football) edition: Wha’ Happened?

killThe Gophers football team won eight games last season, including four consecutive Big Ten contests for the first time in 40 years. The offense was ragged at times, but the defense made huge strides. In the hard to quantify “eye test,” the Gophers looked the part of a Big Ten team for the first time in a while. They were fundamentally sound and rarely made those crushing mistakes that cause fans (and coaches) to rant and rave. It made them enticing to watch, if not always exciting to watch.

As such, Minnesota enters a season with honest momentum for the first time in many years. A lot of established players are back — most notably in the secondary and on the offensive line, two positions that have become even more critical on a football field in recent years — and there are legitimate reasons to think that the team can take another step beyond last year’s progress.

Then again, there are legitimate reasons to think this season could take, at least in terms of achievement, a step back. The schedule is brutal. The passing game is still unproven. And even though the team’s depth looks to be improved, it’s hard to know for sure until the games begin.

As such, this season — which begins tonight with a home game against Eastern Illinois — could become a “defining” season in the tenure of Jerry Kill. If last year was the one that brought the program back to respectability, this one has the chance to either sustain, stifle or perhaps even exceed that.

Ultimately, even with a tough schedule, the year will be defined in a lot of ways by wins and losses. Anything less than seven wins is a step back. Seven or eight wins is a solid holding pattern against this slate. Anything better than that means we can start really getting excited about this program in 2014 and beyond.

Our money is on the solid holding pattern. But decades of Gophers history have told us to expect worse … while a few years of Kill have made us think we could expect even better.

TFD: Data says Vikings are a last-place team, Peterson is inconsistent

adrianpetersonIf you were enjoying this 3-0 Vikings preseason a little too much, here’s the FiveThirtyEight site’s chance to throw water all over you.

Based on Vegas point spreads, the Vikings project to win 6.5 games this season — last in the NFC North. They have a 17 percent chance of making the playoffs and a mere 1 percent chance to win the Super Bowl.

That’s fairly expected. Maybe not even that bad. But the site also uses fancy numbers to arrive at this conclusion — not incorrectly — about Adrian Peterson and the running game:

Obviously Adrian Peterson’s long runs are worth something: They’re worth a lot of yards. But yards are easier than ever to come by in today’s game. No matter how great a running back is at breaking long ones, he’s not going to be as efficient at gobbling up yards as his team’s passing game is (no matter how mediocre the team’s quarterbacks are). On the other hand, the better a team is at strategically maximizing the running game, the more valuable those “bonus” yards become — because the running plays that produce them are no longer taking the place of passes.

In other words, if you can’t run consistently, it doesn’t matter if you can break a bunch of long runs, because you’d still be better off passing. But if you can run consistently, those long runs become gravy. None of this is to say that Peterson’s shortcomings necessarily reflect poorly on his running skills, no more than we can say the same for any running back’s underperformance. Peterson has simply produced a little below average at the bread-and-butter stuff that keeps the running game relevant, and this undercuts the value of his long runs considerably.

Long story short: Peterson is great at breaking long runs and a little below-average at churning out the good-but-not-great runs that eat clock, help the passing game and move the chains.

If you’d rather not think about that, let’s imagine a season in which Peterson actually gets some help from the passing game … and let’s end with Deadspin’s Green Bay Packers preview.

Timberwolves are a 32-win team according to NBA simulation

rubioPart two in today’s theme of how good are the Wolves going to be in the wake of the Kevin Love trade:

A fancy simulation found at ESPN Insider says the Wolves will win 32 games this season. That number is probably a little high, since simulations are not predictions and tend to be optimistic, but here is the methodology:

Just before the start of the 2014-15 season, we sorted teams into tiers based on projections, and we’re repeating the process today to see where teams stand after a tumultuous offseason. Team baseline win projections have been formulated by combining early SCHOENE forecasts with team projections generated by the same RPM-based methodology we used last week to rank players.

The hope is to balance out any inherent biases within the two systems and, in reality, the forecasts are pretty close for all but a couple of teams. Baseline wins were plugged into a Monte Carlo-style simulator of the 2014-15 schedule that accounted for home-court advantage and other scheduling factors. Finally, the top eight players on each team were used to calculate a postseason baseline, and using the seeds from each simulated regular season, the playoffs were played out. This process was repeated 1,000 times.

The results of all those probabilities and random numbers serve as the basis for separating the teams in tiers below. A lot has changed since last season. (To see just how much, just click on the final version of last spring’s Hollinger Playoff Odds.) Each team’s average win total in the 1,000 simulations is listed in parenthesis.

The Wolves are in the tier of teams expected to win more than 25 games but not make the playoffs, which sounds about right. As for 32 wins? We’d take that, and we imagine those with the Wolves would as well.