Jack Roeder has no idea what the crowds will be like tonight—or for the remainder season—but the veteran Cedar Rapids general manager is confident that the Kernels returning to the field one week after historic floods first descended upon the city is the right decision.
Roeder is anything but oblivious to the destruction caused by the swollen Iowa River, which crested last week 10 feet above flood stage at roughly 32 feet and left 480 blocks of Cedar Rapids underwater, displaced 35,000 people, affected 10,000 homes and covered a 10-mile radius.
"It’s an unbelievable tragedy," said Roeder, noting that the river surged above 500-year flood plains. "I don’t think anyone envisioned it could come to 32 feet."
Yet amid so much tragedy, the Kernels will open their eight-game homestand as scheduled following the low Class A Midwest League all-star break, hoping to provide a temporary distraction for locals while doing enough business for the team to stay afloat financially. Roeder spoke with local officials earlier this week, and he said their support for the Kernels to play ball was almost unanimous. [...] Continue Reading »
Cross three more teams off your list of franchise free agents—though none of the extensions should come as much of a surprise.
The Phillies pulled off a two-for-one by extending through 2010 relationships with Triple-A Lehigh Valley (International League) and Double-A Reading (Eastern). It’s a bit of the old and the new for the Phils, as they are in their first season with the expansion IronPigs and their 67th year with the R-Phils (which is tied for the third-longest relationship in minor league baseball).
Low Class A Greensboro waited until the eve of hosting the South Atlantic League all-star game to announce its deal with the Marlins to extend its six-year relationship. There was little reason for either to look elsewhere, as the Grasshoppers’ NewBridge Bank Park is one of the newest, and nicest, facilities in the Sally League. The Marlins, meanwhile, have regularly shipped a contingent of prospects to Greensboro.
Below is an updated list of PDC agreements, with teams whose deals expire after this season noted in bold. [...] Continue Reading »
Matt Meola never pulled an all-nighter in college, has no children to keep him up until the wee hours and never worked the overnight shift at a local IHOP.
Yet somehow the independent Sioux Falls Canaries broadcaster plans to announce all 48 hours of the team’s two-days-of-baseball extravaganza beginning July 18. In a way to celebrate the sport, and hopefully garner national headlines, the Canaries will host 48 consecutive hours of baseball at Sioux Falls Stadium—including three games by the home American Association club.
"I’ve never stayed up for that long in one consecutive string. I don’t know how I’m going to pull it off," the 25-year-old Meola said. "It’s a big challenge. I am embracing this because I want to test myself as a broadcaster and see what we can do to help get some publicity for our celebration of baseball." [...] Continue Reading »
The flooding that has plagued much of Eastern Iowa largely left the area’s minor league ballparks unscathed, yet the flooded homes and businesses in the teams’ surrounding communities raises concerns over their immediate future.
The low Class A Cedar Rapids Kernels had a bird-eye view of the flooding that left 480 blocks of the city’s downtown underwater after the Iowa River crested at 32 feet, roughly 20 feet above flood levels. However the flood, considered the worst since 1993, never approached the Kernels’ ballpark that sits atop one of the city’s tallest hills. "If we were going to be worried about water in the stadium," Kernels spokesman Andrew Pantini said, "then the whole city was going to be wiped out."
Yet despite plans to open their gates as scheduled on Thursday following the Midwest League’s all-star break, it remains unclear how the Kernels will fare attracting fans to the ballpark in a region where bridges and roads are washed out and a large portion of its population are still unable to return to their homes.
"It took me two hours to get home, to make a 10-mile drive," Pantini said of his commute on Thursday at the peak of the flooding. "They were closing bridges left and right as the water kept rising . . . They say it is going to take anywhere from two weeks to two years before everything is back to where it was. I can’t even imagine if people are going to move back to (the hardest-hit) area. Do they even have a choice? It’s almost like what people went through in New Orleans with Hurricane Katrina, just not quite on the same scale." [...] Continue Reading »
A few stories from around the minors.
• Low Class A Fort Wayne will begin a new era when it moves into a brand new downtown ballpark next season. In the meantime, they’re going back to old reliable in advance of the move: a name the team contest. The team hasn’t committed to dropping their Wizards moniker—the team is simply looking for suggestions at this point.
“If we do change, we would love to have a team name that connects with the community, represents some of the rich history and tradition of leadership and innovation that exemplifies Fort Wayne and that celebrates where we’ve been as a community as well as where we’re going in the future,” Wizards General Manager Mike Nutter said in a news release. “We know our fans can be very creative and, with their help, we think we’ll come up with something great.”
• The Cubs and Padres will take the field today in Cooperstown for the final Hall of Fame Game—a 70-year tradition coming to an end due to difficulties in getting teams to upstate New York in the middle of the season. Opponents of the game’s cancellation plan to protest by asking fans in attendance to remain silent for a half inning. [...] Continue Reading »
After receiving over 3,000 nominations for its name the team contest, Winston-Salem has narrowed the candidates down to five to replace the equally beloved and peculiar Warthogs moniker.
The team is moving into a brand-new ballpark next spring, and its out with the old transition includes a team name whose biggest quality is its alliterative quality. In case you didn’t know the root of the Warthogs—which I did not until just a few minutes ago—the name was the winning entry of a 1995 name the team contest sponsored by the Winston-Salem Journal. The name Warthog was not come upon arbitrarily, after all the local Winston-Salem zoo had just received a shipment of Warthogs. (Growing up in Washington, D.C., I remember it being a big deal when the National Zoo got some Pandas from China, but you didn’t see the Redskins changing their name to the Washington Ling-Lings).
Well, the Warthogs went back to the public-naming well and narrowed the list to these five possibilities:
• Aviators (Piedmont Airlines founded in W-S),
• Dash/The Dash (as in Winston DASH Salem),
• Racers (who doesn’t love auto racing in The Dash?),
• Rhinos ("A strong, swift ferocious animal with ties to the area," according to a team release)
• Wallbangers (why not?)
To help settle the debate, I asked the ever-wise and all-knowing-about-everything-baseball staff of Baseball America to rank the entries in order of preference. [...] Continue Reading »
Fort Myers has offered consumers a reason for hope as they negotiate rising gas prices and abandoned SUVs on their way to the ballpark.
Every Monday night, the high Class A Miracle will offer box seats, for the lowest price in town for regular unleaded gas. Box seats for tonight’s game–which usually retail at $7–will go for $3.86 (a deal the Miracle found at "Sharpie’s Super Stop.
"Every day there is disturbing news about how high gas has risen in price. We are going to turn a negative into a positive," Miracle general manager Steve Gliner said.
Kevin Costner Road Show
Let me first start with this piece of breaking news: Kevin Costner has a band.
Even better, Modern West (which is described on the band’s MySpace page as "live, loud and long") is coming to some ballparks near you (or at least me). [...] Continue Reading »
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