Diamonds and Ice

UNI baseball has a donation Web site
February 27, 2009, 11:15 pm
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The Northern Iowa baseball team has created a Web site to help raise money to save its program. The school announced earlier this week the baseball program would be cut unless $1.2 million was raised by the end of March.

As of Friday afternoon, the donation total was $45,295, including a single $10,000 donation by someone anonymous. Rumors ran rampant late Friday afternoon that a single donation of $1 million had been given, but that was not confirmed.

Here’s a link to the UNI baseball donation Web site:

Good luck, guys.


Cardinals fail to show Kurt Warner the money
February 27, 2009, 4:27 am
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Contract talks broke down between the Arizona Cardinals and the representative for quarterback Kurt Warner, making the C.R. native a free agent, as of midnight Eastern time.

The Arizona Republic reported the Cardinals were offering a two-year deal worth $20 million. ESPN said Warner wants “top five quarterback” cash of between $14 and $16 million a season.

All the “experts” I heard and read last night said the odds are Warner and the Cards will eventually come to some sort of agreement. Warner has said if he doesn’t sign a deal with Arizona, he will retire.

Don’t bet on that happening.

Here’s a link to the Arizona Republic story:



Every Metro boys’ hoops team still alive
Linn-Mar's Nate Hutcheson

Linn-Mar's Nate Hutcheson

As of Thursday night, every Metro boys’ basketball team was still kicking in the postseason. Marion played a 3A district final Thursday night against Williamsburg.

In Class 4A, all six Metro schools and both Iowa City’s schools have advanced into the substate semifinal round. That list will be pared starting Friday, considering there are some head-to-head matchups:

No. 2 Linn-Mar (19-2) hosts Cedar Rapids Xavier (7-14)
Cedar Rapids Washington (15-6) hosts Cedar Rapids Jefferson (11-10)

In other games Friday, No. 4 Cedar Rapids Kennedy (20-1) hosts Waterloo East (11-10). It’s Cedar Rapids Prairie (3-18) playing at sixth-ranked Iowa City High (16-5). Iowa City West (9-12) hosts Burlington (7-15).

It’s the Wash-Jeff winner facing the Linn-Mar/Xavier winner in a substate final at the U.S. Cellular Center on Tuesday night (8 p.m. tip). The City High-Prairie winner plays either West or Burlington in a 6:30 game at The Cell that same night.

Kennedy or East will play the winner of Friday night’s Marshalltown (ranked ninth)-Cedar Falls game in a Tuesday substate final at UNI’s McLeod Center.

So who will emerge out of all this to play in the state tournament in Des Moines in a couple of weeks?

A-Roid, A-Roid, A-Roid
February 26, 2009, 12:16 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Alex Rodriguez homered in his spring training debut Wednesday. He was booed lustily by much of the crowd in Dunedin, Fla.

He should have been booed after the game. Apparently A-Roid took off in an SUV with his cousin. You remember Yuri Sucart, right? He’s the guy who supposedly got Rodriguez his steroids in the Dominican Republic and needled him up.

“It was nice, just nice to play baseball,” Rodriguez said after the spring training game against Toronto. “That’s what I do, that’s what I get paid for.

“Fans were okay, I would like to invite a bunch of them to Fenway Park. They were pretty nice. Hope this is the start of a successful year for all of us. Thought today was very mild, thought fans were great.”

Oh, by the way. This New York Post headline never gets old.


Former RoughRider Purcell back to NHL

Red Wings Kings Hockey

Former Cedar Rapids RoughRider Teddy Purcell was recalled from the AHL’s Manchester Monarchs to the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday. He’s playing in L.A.’s game tonight at Minnesota.

It sounds like it’s only a temporary recall, however, as he is replacing standout winger Dustin Brown in the lineup because Brown’s wife just delivered a child.

“Brownie is a special kind of player with his skill and grit and physical play he has, so you’re not going to have one guy step in and fill that,” Purcell said on the Kings’ official Web site. “He was our all-star representative for a reason. It sounds cliché but you need a collective effort from everyone else just to pick it up a little bit and make up for losing him. We’re playing a Minnesota team that hasn’t had (Marian) Gaborik pretty much all year so every team goes through it and it’s the ones that seem to respond when certain guys are out of the lineup that seem to do the best.”

Purcell had a goal and six assists in 17 games earlier this season for the Kings. He made his NHL debut last season. He had 16 goals and 22 assists in 38 games this season for Manchester.

He’s expected to play on a forward line with Jarret Stoll and Kyle Calder.

“It’s always nice to come up and go in with a line that has had some success lately,” Purcell told the Kings’ Web site. “It’s unfortunate that Brown couldn’t be here because that has been one of the top lines and has been effective so hopefully I can come in and not slow those guys down at all and get those guys the puck and continue some of the success they’ve been having.

“When I first came up here and got my first taste, I was almost afraid to shoot I always wanted to pass to those guys and try to make them happy but I think as I got more comfortable here and more confidence here I think I can fit more that shooter role. Down in Manchester, I’ve been able to do both so hopefully I can carry that up here and get open for those guys and find some goals.”

Purcell also had this to say about his recall:

“With the new coaching staff, it is really big on defense and that checking part of the game and that is one of the areas I need to work on and when I was up here last time, I felt I got more comfortable with that and did a better job of being consistent but I went down and worked on some of those things and I’m being rewarded again up here. I think they know that I’m an offensive player I just have to go out and do the checking side of the game and be good in my own zone and the offense will take care of itself.”

A chat with new Kernels skipper Bill Mosiello

Bill Mosiello

Bill Mosiello

Was able to catch up with 2009 Cedar Rapids Kernels Manager Bill Mosiello via phone Monday afternoon. Seems like a very good guy, which continues the string of “good guy” managers the Kernels have had in recent seasons.

Here’s a short story on Mosiello that’ll run sometime in the newspaper this week:

By Jeff Johnson
The Gazette
CEDAR RAPIDS – He had an offer on the table from the Colorado Rockies. Then the Los Angeles Angels called Bill Mosiello that same day, and his summer destination was clear … Cedar Rapids.
“God’s a great man, and he has done some great things for me in my life,” the 2009 Cedar Rapids Kernels Manager said. “When that happened, it was a no-brainer.”
Mosiello, 44, takes over a Kernels club that was originally supposed to be led by 2008 manager Keith Johnson. But longtime minor-league field coordinator Bruce Hines left the Angels in early January to take a major league job with Seattle, causing a ripple effect of moves, with Johnson being promoted to high-Class A Rancho Cucamonga.
Having pro experience as a manager and hitting coach in the New York Yankees system, Mosiello was hired by the Angels in late January. He had been an assistant coach at Auburn University, with assistant’s experience at other powerhouse programs such as Arizona State, Southern California, Cal State-Fullerton and Tennessee.
“When I decided to maybe get back into (pro ball), my wife was all for it,” Mosiello said. “But it just had to be the right place. The Angels are a special organization top to bottom.
“What I believe in and what I do (instructing) is exactly the way the Angels teach. They think the way I think. It was a perfect fit.”
Mosiello is in big-league spring training with the Angels and said he hasn’t gotten much of a chance to ask about the possible makeup of his Kernels team. Cedar Rapids made the Midwest League playoffs last season, losing to eventual champion Burlington in the second round.
Mosiello has experience in the Midwest League, managing 109 games for Battle Creek in 2004. He took over early in the season after former Kernels manager Mitch Seaone was let go by the Yankees.
He also managed low-A Charleston of the South Atlantic League for two seasons before heading back to the college game.
“Ballparks are what you care about,” Mosiello said. “I know Grand Rapids is a beautiful ballpark. Dayton is such a special place, I’d love to play there 30 games a season.
“I remember Cedar Rapids being a really neat place, too, when we were playing there. I played with Ever Magallanes and coached Bobby Magallanes (former Kernels managers), and they both had nothing but good things to say about being in Cedar Rapids. I’m looking forward to getting there.”
Minor-league pitchers and catchers report for spring training March 8 and 9, Mosiello said, with position players reporting the following week. The Kernels’ 2009 season opens April 9 at home against Beloit.

Quad City Flames could be extinguished

A story in the Quad City Times this weekend said the future of the Quad City Flames of the Triple-A-level American Hockey League is in serious doubt.

The two-year-old franchise has incurred debt of about $2.6 million. The club ranks 28th out of 29 clubs in the AHL in attendance (2,810 per game), which is amazing considering the popularity of the preceding Quad City Mallards, which was a vastly inferior level of minor-league hockey.

Owners of the QC Flames said they have not made a final decision as of yet and are looking for an investor to help them out. Abbotsford, British Columbia apparently has been courting the parent Calgary Flames to move the team there, though that move might not be OKed by the AHL because of its geographic footprint (i.e., there are no West Coast teams).

Been to about six or seven QC Flames games this season and four or five last year. The iWireless Center is a great facility and the hockey is fantastic. The prices aren’t too bad, either. It’d be a shame to see the team go away.


McDonald’s game out, AHL All-Star Game in for D.M.?

In talking to a few people while at the state wrestling tournament this weekend, heard that Des Moines applied for but was recently denied being the host for the 2010 McDonald’s prep basketball all-American game.

The city still remains in the hunt, however, to host the American Hockey League All-Star Game next season. Both events mentioned were/are earmarked for Wells Fargo Arena. The AHL’s Iowa Chops, an affiliate of the Anaheim Ducks, play in Wells Fargo Arena.

If you’ve never been to WFA for an event, do so. It’s a big-time, big-city beautiful arena that this state is lucky to have.

And the Iowa High School Athletic Association and Iowa Girls’ High School Union are lucky to have its availability for its state wrestling and basketball tournaments.

World Baseball Classic Fever ….. Catch It!!

China pitcher and Yankees prospect Liu Kai

China pitcher and Yankees prospect Liu Kai

If you didn’t realize it, the 2009 World Baseball Classic is a little over two weeks from starting. OK, we know you didn’t realize it.

China, Japan, Chinese Taipei and Korea are in a four-country pod that plays first-round games in Tokyo. In Mexico City, you have Mexico, Cuba, Australia and South Africa.

Toronto will host a four-country group that consists of Canada, the United States, Italy and Venezuela. San Juan, Puerto Rico, will be the site of games between Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Netherlands and Panama.

The top two teams in each pod will move on to the second round, which is March 15-19 in San Diego and Miami. The semifinals and finals are March 21-23 in Los Angeles.

ESPN and the MLB Network will broadcast the games. If you haven’t seen the newly created MLB Network, it’s pretty cool.

Now the big question is what will each country’s roster look like. MLB teams have put the kibosh on some of their players participating in the event. Some players have simply said no all on their own.

That’s the shame about the timing of the World Baseball Classic. MLB teams have millions and millions of dollars invested in players and want them ready for their season. That means going to spring training with them, not playing in the Classic.

All right, now for the predictions. I’m going out on a limb here and picking China to win it all. I hear a lot of good things about the 1-2 pitching punch of Bu Tao and Shi Dong. Shi’s brother, Chunhua Dong is an up-and-coming catcher, and outfielder Yi Feng has been tearing it up for the Guangdong Leopards this season.

In all seriousness, pitcher Liu Kai and catcher Zhang Zhenwang are in the New York Yankees farm system. Infielder Ray Chang played in the Midwest League with Fort Wayne a couple years back and is in the Pirates organization.


Here’s a link to the 2009 WBC game schedule:

Who do you think will win?

Former Kernels pitcher Dinga back in military
February 19, 2009, 9:54 pm
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Milan Dinga, who pitched briefly last season for the Cedar Rapids Kernels, has returned to active military duty in the Army.

Dinga works at West Point in the Center for Enhanced Performance, a psychology skills program for cadets, according to an Associated Press story that tracked athletes at Army who are trying to pursue professional athletic careers until a new military policy that went into effect over the summer.

Officers-athletes are allowed to pursue professional athletic careers after two years of active military duty upon graduation. The previous policy allowed officers-athletes to immediately pursue pro careers, while also serving as recruiters and reserves.

Dinga was a 10th-round draft pick in 2007 of the parent Los Angeles Angels, pitching one game last season for Cedar Rapids before being sidelined with an arm injury that required surgery. He is expected to resume throwing this summer.

Other pro baseball players affected are pitcher Nick Hill (Seattle Mariners), outfielder Cole White (Pittsburgh), pitcher Drew Clothier (Florida) and catcher Chris Simmons (Pittsburgh).

The most well-known athlete involved in the military’s new sports policy is football safety Caleb Campbell, a high draft pick of the Detroit Lions last year, who attended training camp until being called back to active duty. He is hoping to be allowed to join the Lions in 2010.

Here’s a story on Dinga I did last summer when he was in Cedar Rapids. A real good guy.


For Kernels and country
Military program gives ex-Army player chance at pros
By Jeff Johnson The Gazette  CEDAR RAPIDS — Milan Dinga is unlike virtually every other minor leaguer in professional baseball. It has nothing to do with his ability or his smarts on the baseball diamond. He isn’t overcoming a major injury, though he is on the disabled list with a strained right (throwing) shoulder. He’s not trying to convert from a position player to a pitcher or vice versa.

What makes Dinga unique is his background.

He’s a graduate of the United States Military Academy, one of two in pro ball right now. Former Army teammate Nick Hill is in the Seattle Mariners organization.

The two are getting a chance to make it to the major leagues under a relatively new military program called the Alternative Service Option. Dinga gets two years to pursue his baseball career while also serving as a recruiter for the Army. After those two years, he has the option to continue in professional baseball if he accepts six more years as a military reservist.

If he doesn’t take that option, he can retire from baseball and serve the remaining three years of his five-year postgraduate commitment to the Army. The Alternative Service Option also is available to Navy and Air Force grads and includes all sports, not just baseball.

“We’ll see what happens. I’ve got to get off the DL,” Dinga said. “It’s a blessing that they’re letting me pursue this career while still serving, doing my part with the Army … It’s been amazing so far, and I’m grateful that the Army has allowed me to pursue this (baseball).”

Dinga, 23, set 30 school and Patriot League records in his four-year career at Army. An outstanding two-way player who was his team’s closer and left fielder, he was selected by the parent Los Angeles Angels in the 10th round of last year’s amateur draft.

The Angels see him as a pitcher, and that’s strictly what he’s been since signing a contract with them. He threw in four games last season for Rookie-level Orem and has one inning in for the Kernels since joining the club recently from extended spring training.

“He’s got really good life on his fastball,” Angels scouting director Eddie Bane said shortly after last year’s draft. “He throws hard enough. And the leadership values of a kid like that are through the roof. He’s only (23) years old, but you expect that after having been through (a) military academy. You don’t usually see that kind of discipline.”

“I’ve heard a lot of good things about him,” Kernels Manager Keith Johnson said. “Before he got hurt, he was throwing the ball very well in spring training. He’s a strike thrower who works the bottom of the zone.”

A Florida native, Dinga never really thought about pro ball when he first decided to attend West Point. He was interested in the school’s great education and the chance to serve his country. His mother had served in the Air Force.

But when he was a sophomore, the Alternative Service Option was created. The first Army player to take advantage was outfielder Josh Holden, who signed with the Cincinnati Reds in 2005 and played the 2006 season for the Dayton Dragons in the Midwest League. Holden was released by the Reds in spring training.

“I think the impetus behind this program is that we are having trouble recruiting,” Dinga said. “So having a professional athlete serve as a recruiter will hopefully help increase recruiting. It should be a positive thing for the Army in the long run.

“West Point was the best possible opportunity for me coming out of high school. I knew that I’d get a great education and I’d get the chance to serve my country. Get a chance to be a leader and lead soldiers. I knew that I’d get a chance to play baseball, too. Then my sophomore year, they created this program where you could go play pro. Everything has worked out. It’s been pretty amazing.”

Now if only he can get healthy.

The plan is for him to rest his arm for a couple of weeks and then see where he is physically.

It’s a tough deal for Dinga, though not anything like what many of his West Point classmates are going through overseas. And the truth is he, too, could be called for active duty anywhere at any time.

“We’re strained pretty far right now (militarily),” Dinga said. “The Army is my boss. Basically, if they tell me I’m done playing baseball and going wherever, I’m there in a heartbeat.

“You’re always thinking about that. Some of my good friends, my best friends, from school are either overseas or are going overseas. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about that. I get a lot of e-mails from them, calls from them, and they’re behind me 100 percent. That really encourages me every time I step on the field to give 100 percent. It encourages me to go 100 percent for them every second I’m on the baseball field.”