Results tagged ‘ Cedar Rapids Kernels ’

This ‘N That

Orem Owlz outfielder Roberto Lopez is batting .448 after his first 21 games.


Too much to do, not enough time to do it.

Catching up on items of note …

I’ll be with the Tempe Angels for their July 20-22 games. The Sunday July 20 game is at Peoria against the Mariners. Then it’s on to Tempe on July 21 against the A’s, and July 22 against the Padres.

Ironically, this is the exact same schedule I attended last year. Apparently the league’s schedule makers decided to just use last year’s schedule, with minor tweaks. The Angels have a few games that were reversed — our park instead of theirs, or vice-versa — but otherwise it’s pretty much identical.

So these three games are the same I saw last year.

I’m hoping to see the Angels’ top two pitching draft picks, Tyler Chatwood and Ryan Chaffee. Chatwood made his professional debut on July 8, facing only five batters. He struck out two and gave up a hit. Ryan Chaffee, recovering from a foot injury, has yet to pitch but maybe he’ll be ready by the time I get there.

Former Angels minor league outfielder and relief pitcher Warner Madrigal made his major league debut on July 2 in New York against the Yankees. He appeared in relief for the Rangers at home July 7 against the Angels, then made an emergency start July 9 against his former team. As I wrote last November 18, the Angels botched a paperwork technicality last fall, making Warner a free agent. After pitching for Low-A Cedar Rapids in 2007, the Rangers sent him to their Double-A affiliate to start 2008, moved him up to Triple-A, and brought him up last week. Way too soon in my opinion, but I gather the Rangers are dealing with pitching injuries so they had to dip into their farm system.

While on the subject of former fireballing Angels relievers, the White Sox placed Bobby Jenks on the disabled list with left scapula bursitis. Bobby hasn’t pitched since June 29. Frankly, I’m surprised he’s held up this long; I suspected his elbow held together by screws would have fallen apart by now, but I’m not a sports medicine expert.

Tom Kotchman’s Orem Owlz are 16-6 and well on their way to post-season contention yet again. Left fielder Roberto Lopez has hit in each of his first 21 games, and has an AVG/OBP/SLG of .448/.520/.598. All the disclaimers have to be issued at this point — he’s a 22-year old in a league where the top prospects are teenagers, 21 games do not a career make, he hasn’t been around the league once so pitchers haven’t had the chance to adjust yet. Baseball America never had him as a significant prospect.

On the other hand … wow.

In recent years, other Angels rookie players have had similar hot starts. 20-year old outfielder Sergio Contreras hit .399/.467/.601 with Butte in 2000. (That franchise is now the Casper Ghosts.) 22-year old Azarias Corbeil hit .359/.463/.525 for Provo (now Orem) in 2001. Neither had a career that reached the upper minors. So let’s keep our sobriety for the time being and give Roberto’s career a chance to mature before we make snap judgments.

On the other hand .. wow.

For those of you looking for photos I recently shot at Orem, I’ve been very busy with non-baseball projects. Hopefully I can make a dent this weekend in the backlog. I’ll post an announcement on the home page when they’re done.

Hopefully I can get out to Rancho Cucamonga on Sunday.

I want to keep Cedar Rapids in your thoughts. The Cedar Rapids Gazette reported today that flood damage is expected to exceed $1 billion. Reporter Rick Smith wrote:

“This size of loss, we can’t cash flow this unless the federal government gives us money,” [City Manager Jim Prosser] said. “We’re going to have serious problems … We want the public to know what we’re facing.”

Prosser said the city needs “immediate attention and assistance” from the federal government, and will seek such aid.

You can send donations to the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund and the Kernels Foundation Flood Relief.

BeesGal on her Sporkball Journals blog has a comprehensive list of sports teams and individuals who have donated to Cedar Rapids flood relief.

The Angels are notably absent from the list.

Gazette beat writer Jeff Johnson hasn’t minced words in his Diamonds and Ice blog. Jeff wrote on July 2:

… The parent Los Angeles Angels still have yet to publicly acknowledge there has been a flood in a city they have been partnered with for 16 years. That’s embarrassing, Angels. Hopefully this lack of response has opened some eyes on the Kernels’ board of directors.

Don’t blame Tony Reagins or anyone in the baseball operations for this one. Charitable decisions are made on the money side of the business. Perhaps the Angels intend to make a quiet anonymous donation, although that seems unlikely. As I’ve mentioned before, a more proactive approach would be for Arte Moreno to challenge Angels fans by offering to donate $1 million if they match it.

With about 40,000 fans attending each home game, if each fan were to donate $1 it would take 25 games to reach $1 million.

So far, though, it appears that the Angels minor leaguers have donated more money than Arte and his money minions. If I’m mistaken, if Jeff Johnson is mistaken, if the Kernels fans are mistaken, well, please tell us. But you’re not going to lead by example and encourage Angels fans to give if you don’t tell anyone about it nor advertise it during the ball games.

Quakes Booster Club Raises $1,300 for Cedar Rapids Flood Relief

The Rancho Cucamonga Quakes Booster Club raised $1,300 last night for Cedar Rapids disaster relief. Below is an e-mail from club president Sammi Griffiths.

Wow Boosters!

We had a fantastic turnout for our special auction tonight to raise money for the Cedar Rapids Red Cross Flood Relief effort. As you all know, Cedar Rapids is the home of our low Single-A affiliate the Kernels, and many of our current Quakes players have come through there in the last few years. This means there are Boosters, Host families, employees and fans of our players who have suffered as a result of the terrible floods in Iowa.

Tonight we raised $1300 that will be sent to the flood relief in Cedar Rapids…….and many thanks need to go out to all of you who participated.

To the Quakes management, Gerry, Matt Blank, Kyle and Rachel for allowing us to put on this auction, providing tables, making announcements, and assisting with the credit card payments – We are very grateful for your support.

To Mark Cova, Joe Marcotte, Sandy Wakefield, Leslie Bergman, and MoTown for planning, setting up & getting autographs from the current team members.

To Joe for printing the fliers, and Cheryl Perdew and John Brown for helping Joe pass them out.

To JD Elmquist for donating the single biggest money-maker – the Brooks Robinson bat, and also the O’Day, Larkin & Jones baseballs (total of $280 sold).

To Leslie Bergman for donating baseballs, bats, and mini-helmets (total of $265 sold).

To Mike Huffstatler for donating several great player photos and having them autographed and framed. 4 of them sold totalling $220.

To Sandy Wakefield for donating 2 special bats (total of $200).

To Cheryl Perdew for donating 2 of her Weaver photos (total of $135).

To Mark Cova for the Troy Percival ball ($70) & the donation bucket.

To Geena Cova for the way cool poster showing the flood damage and helping to draw attention to our auction tables.

To Cheryl, Diane Young, Mark and Leslie for manning the table.

And to all who came down and bid on items or donated cash to this great cause – thank-you so very much.

We will be sending the proceeds to the Kernels next week, and we know that your generosity will help many.

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday weekend, Sammi

Click Here for information about the Kernels Foundation Flood Relief fund.

Click Here for information about the Red Cross Disaster Relief fund.

Both need your money NOW to help the people of Cedar Rapids. I’ve sent $100 to each fund. Top that if you dare.

Cedar Rapids Update

More efforts being announced to help the people of Cedar Rapids and other flood victims.

This press release is from the Kernels:

Minor League Baseball donates to Iowa flood relief

June 26, 2008 – Minor League Baseball announced today that they, and the affiliated minor league teams, will be making a donation toward flood relief effort in Iowa. The announcement was made today by Pat O’Connor, President and Chief Executive Officer of Minor League Baseball.

Minor league baseball clubs are asked to donate 50 cents from each ticket sold from one home game between July 3rd and July 6th. Teams that do not have home games during that time, are encouraged to make a donation as they see fit.

To kick off the effort, Minor League Baseball will donate $50,000 to this relief fund, set up by Minor League Baseball Charities. This fund will be distributed among the four cities in Iowa with minor league baseball teams that were affected by the flooding: Burlington, Cedar Rapids, Des Moines and Davenport.

The Minor League Baseball office will then tally up the totals and distribute like amounts to flood relief efforts in the above cities.

For more information, please contact Jack Roeder in the Kernels Office (319-363-3887).

Mark Cova of the Quakes Booster Club sends along this notice:

On Thursday July 3rd, the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes Booster Club, with the support of the Quakes front office, will have an auction table on the third base concourse during the Quakes game vs. the Inland Empire 66ers. We normally run our auction table during weekend home games with the proceeds supporting the work of the Booster Club, But on July 3rd, the Booster Club will donate 100% of the gross proceeds to the Cedar Rapids Red Cross. In addition to auctioning the normal memorabilia signed by players and formal players — including some signed by current Angels, we will also be auctioning items specially donated for this auction by the current Quakes players.

BeesGal sends along, which I believe was started by Cedar Rapids locals.

Angels to Donate to Cedar Rapids Disaster Relief

Kernels beat writer Jeff Johnson of the Cedar Rapids Gazette reports that the Angels will donate to Cedar Rapids disaster relief.

Los Angeles Angels General Manager Tony Reagins said Wednesday the club is planning to donate money to the city. Reagins said the Angels have been in regular contact with Kernels General Manager Jack Roeder throughout the flood crisis and have been waiting for the Kernels to decide the best time and place for a contribution.

“That community is near and dear to my heart,” said Reagins, who was farm director of the Angels for several years before ascending to the GM position this year.

The article also notes that Trevor Bell left a $2,500 for disaster relief before returning to Rancho Cucamonga.

Lanny Peterson informs me that an official relief fund has been started by the Kernels:

Stephen, You asked for a “local” group which is aiding flood victims in CR. I talked with GM Jack Roeder today, and the Board has set up such an entity through their foundation. Thus, if anyone is interested, he should sent a check made payable to the Kernels Foundation Flood Relief, PO Box 2001, Cedar Rapids, Ia 52404.

Get your checks in the mail. Mine is.

Cedar Rapids Update

Trevor Bell pledged $100 per strikeout today for Cedar Rapids flood relief. Seven strikeouts equalled $700.


Kernels starting pitcher Trevor Bell pledged to donate $100 for each strikeout today to help Cedar Rapids flood victims. Trevor put his wallet where his mouth is, pitching a complete game as the Kernels won 6-2 over Wisconsin. He struck out seven, translating into $700 for flood victims.

Jonathan Mayo of wrote in his blog today about Bell’s donation.

If you’ve been following this blog, you know that on June 15 I shot video at Rancho Cucamonga of the Quakes players sending good thoughts to Cedar Rapids. Click Here to watch the video. (Windows Media Player and a broadband Internet connection required.)

Andy Pantini, the Kernels’ Director of Communications, downloaded a copy of the video to run on their video board. Today I heard from Lanny Peterson, who helps run the Kernels’ host parent program. Here’s what Lanny had to say about the video and the crowd reaction:

Thanks so very much for the video that was played at our ballpark for several nights. I can speak for the host families and many others: tears were plentiful to hear those guys talk to us about our situation. And I want to thank you for being so kind and thoughtful. This was a terrific and heartfelt message.

We are getting back to “normal” (but a definition of normal will take some time — some are saying it will be years). With prayers and words of hope from people as you, I’m confident that we will persevere.

For you Quakes players who participated in the video … you hit a home run. Thank you.

You really have to admire our players stepping forward to take the lead in providing both emotional and financial support for Cedar Rapids.

(When will we hear the Angels step up to the plate, wink wink, nudge nudge …)

I’m late in acknowledging BeesGal’s blog entry June 18 on The Sporkball Journals. She’s one of those fans who “gets it” when it comes to minor league ball. BeesGal is a regular at Salt Lake games, but more importantly she understands the importance of supporting these kids as they pursue their dream of a major league career. She was one of the first regulars to pitch in and start helping raise money for the good folk of Cedar Rapids.

Cedar Rapids Update

“This is Cedar Rapids’ all-time disaster.”

— Legendary Iowa broadcaster Bob Brooks

Life isn’t returning to normal, but it is a bit more routine these days in Cedar Rapids, ten days since the Friday the 13th flood that left $1 billion in damage and one-fifth the city’s population homeless.

The floodwaters have moved on, heading south through other doomed farm cities, eventually pouring into the Mississippi River. Iowa faces a potential $3 billion crop loss that could reverberate through an already bleak economy. According to CNN, FEMA estimates that 35,000 to 40,000 in several states have been displaced by the floods. About 25,000 of those are in Cedar Rapids.

Bob Brooks, who broadcast Iowa Hawkeyes football games for 55 years, appeared on the Kernels’ Friday pre-game show with John Rodgers. Now 81, Brooks has certainly seen it all in Cedar Rapids history, so his observations about the Flood of 2008 were particularly poignant. At one point, his face started to crack, and so did John’s.

(For what it’s worth, guys, I’ve done my fair share of mourning too.)

Click Here to listen to Friday’s webcast on

A reminder to donate to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, which is taking out loans to get by. If/when a Cedar Rapids-specific fund is set up, I’ll let you know.  John noted on the webcast that the Kernels raised $1,000 from fan donations during their Thursday night game, their first game since the flood.

Cedar Rapids Update

An update on Cedar Rapids …

FEMA is calling this the worst flood since Katrina. USA Today reports that 25,000 people in Cedar Rapids are homeless, and the damage may top $1 billion.

Police were allowing people to enter their neighborhoods briefly to recover necessities, but further tests showed the conditions were too toxic and dangerous so access was shut down.

The American Red Cross reports that
their disaster funds have been depleted. Please consider visiting the American Red Cross web site to donate.

Several members of the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes who were at Cedar Rapids in 2007 or 2008 filmed a video to let the people of Cedar Rapids know they care.
Click Here to watch the video. Windows Media Player and a broadband (cable modem, DSL) Internet connection are required.

The Quakes’ players, coaches, fans, and front office are mobilizing to do what they can to help Cedar Rapids. It’s still early to know just what we’ll do because other than the Red Cross there’s no place to send money right now. Hopefully we’ll have a game plan once C.R. has an official relief fund.

As for the Kernels, they were on the road when this happened. They should be arriving in C.R. right about now. It’s anyone’s guess where they’ll go. They have a three-day break due to the Midwest League All-Star Game. The manager Keith Johnson and hitting coach Damon Mashore were staying at the Best Western Cooper’s Mill hotel, but it’s out of commission indefinitely after the entire first floor was submerged for days. I don’t think anyone knows when they might play again.

Quad Cities, a former Angels affiliate (before Cedar Rapids), cancelled its Sunday game due to flooding. The Triple-A Iowa Cubs in Des Moines lost their ballpark, which was also submerged.

FInally … If any of Arte Moreno’s people are reading this, Arte needs to step up now and take the lead in encouraging Angels fans to help the people of Cedar Rapids. One way to do that would be to cut a $1 million check NOW to the Red Cross. Another way might be to set up a disaster relief matching fund — for every dollar donated by Angels fans, the Angels match it.

The Red Cross is out of money, and Cedar Rapids is farm community without the resources to raise a lot of dollars. So it’s time we give back to them for all they’ve done for Angels fandom the last sixteen years.

Kernels Update

Kernels beat writer Jeff Johnson of the Cedar Rapids Gazette has an informative article in today’s edition about how the flood is affecting the team and the front office operation. Click Here to read the article.

Critical points:

  • The stadium parking lot is being used to stage disaster response equipment.
  • Cooper’s Mill is described as “under water.” Manager Keith Johnson and hitting coach Damon Mashore were living there but their rooms were on the third floor, above the water line, so their belongings should be okay but they don’t know when they might be able to retrieve them.
  • The official visiting team hotel is now the Best Western Longbranch Hotel near the Cedar Rapids-Marion border.
  • It’s unknown if the next homestand starting Thursday will happen. “Access to Memorial Stadium will be difficult for fans on the east side of the river, although it should be possible to get there. The question is how many people will want to get there, considering the circumstances,” Jeff wrote.

Cedar Rapids Road Closures

The below map is posted on WMT 600 AM Radio. You’ll see Veterans Memorial Stadium labelled in the lower-left of the map.

Flood Waters Begin to Recede in Cedar Rapids

The flood waters have begun to recede in downtown Cedar Rapids.

But the recovery will take years, if not decades.

I’ve been watching KCRG TV’s live video stream all evening and I’m horrified.

I wrote yesterday that this is Cedar Rapids’ “Katrina.” It’s not hyperbole.

The water downtown appears to have crested about 8 to 10 feet above street level. Video footage taken from motor boats shows block after block of downtown with the first story of buildings almost totally submerged.

On the southwest side of the Cedar River, block after block of homes are submerged to the rooftops.

For those of you who’ve stayed at the Best Western Cooper’s Mill, I still haven’t seen any direct video or photos of the hotel, but KCRG did show video tonight of the Blimpie and Dairy Queen around the corner at 1st Ave. SW and 2nd St. SW. Both businesses are completely under water to the rooftops. The water goes up to the bottom of the Blimpie and Dairy Queen signs. So I have to figure the first floor of Cooper’s Mill is submerged, and maybe part of the second floor.

In my last call, I issued a call to arms for the other affiliates. Fans in two of the towns have already responded. I won’t get into details because I don’t want to create any unwarranted expectations, but I’m so proud of the friends I’ve made through because they understand we’re all one big family, and right now the Cedar Rapids clan desperately needs our help.

Of course, the Kernels and the rest of the community are in no position to tell us how to respond. For now, send your donations to the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. If and when I hear of any official plans from the Angels affiliates, or the Angels themselves, I’ll let you know.

As for the Kernels … I just don’t know how this season is going to proceed. The visiting team hotel is hosed for the foreseeable future. Based on what I’ve seen, there’s no way most of Cedar Rapids will be able to reach Veterans Memorial Stadium — and baseball will be the least of their worries.

I hate to think that the Kernels might become a nomadic team, playing all their games on the road, but that might be what happens in upcoming weeks. Earlier in the season, Quad Cities used the Vet and Clinton’s ballpark for a few games while their neighborhood flooded. But their flood was nothing like this apocalypse.

The Kernels are currently on the road in Kane County. After Sunday’s day game, they return by bus to Cedar Rapids and have three days off for the Midwest League All-Star Game. Assuming they can even get to Cedar Rapids, where do they go? Some host parents may have lost their homes, and some others live on the northeast side of the river which is currently cut off except by taking the I-380. The next home game is scheduled for Thursday June 19. No one can possibly know now if that game can be staged, and they may not know until that morning.

I’ll continue to keep you posted. Keep the people of Cedar Rapids in your thoughts and prayers, and donate to the Red Cross.