Angels net Trout for 12 years with record-breaking deal

The Los Angeles Angels made it official Wednesday night, announcing that they signed outfielder Mike Trout to a record-breaking deal reportedly worth $426.5 million to keep the superstar in Anaheim through the 2030 season.

Trout’s new contract is almost $100 million richer than the $330 million one Bryce Harper signed with the Philadelphia Phillies last month.

There’s no question that Trout deserves to be the highest-paid player in baseball — he is a best-of-his-generation talent. Since 2012 (his first full major-league season), Trout ranks in the top five in home runs, runs scored, batting average, slugging percentage and on-base percentage, and leads all position players in wins above replacement (WAR). In fact, his career 64.3 WAR is the most through a player’s age-26 season in MLB history. He is a seven-time All-Star, six-time Silver Slugger Award winner, two-time Most Valuable Player (2014 and 2016), and the 2012 American League Rookie of the Year. He finished in the top two in AL MVP voting in six of the last seven seasons, and finished fourth in the other one despite being limited to 114 games that year.

It’s hard to believe it was only 10 years ago when Trout made his minor-league debut, ending the season with five games played in the Midwest League. He returned to the Cedar Rapids Kernels the following year and won the MWL batting title with a .362 mark in 81 games. He was named the 2010 MWL MVP and Prospect of the Year.

Last season Trout batted .312 with 39 HR, 79 RBI and 24 SB in 140 games with the Angels. His 122 walks and .460 on-base percentage led the American League.

Mike Trout’s star on the walk of fame inside Veterans Memorial Stadium, home of the Cedar Rapids Kernels. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Big deals for Bregman, Jimenez

Trout isn’t the only former Midwest Leaguer currently in the news because of a big contract extension. Astros third baseman Alex Bregman reportedly has agreed to a six-year, $100 million contract extension with Houston, and White Sox top prospect Eloy Jimenez reportedly has agreed to a six-year, $43 million contract (which includes two club options) with the Chicago South Siders.

Bregman finished fifth in National League MVP voting last year after batting .286 with 31 homers, 51 doubles and 103 RBI in 157 games with the Astros. He played in 29 games for the 2015 Quad Cities River Bandits, batting .259 with 1 HR, 13 RBI and 5 SB before being promoted to High-A to finish the season.

Jimenez is expected to make his MLB debut this year, after cumulatively batting .337 with 22 homers, 28 doubles and 75 RBI in 108 games split between Chicago’s Double-A and Triple-A affiliates last season. The White Sox acquired him from the Cubs in July 2017, less than a year after he won the MWL MVP and Prospect of the Year awards. Jimenez batted .329 with 14 homers, 40 doubles and 81 RBI in 112 games with the 2016 South Bend Cubs, and earned the MWL All-Star Game’s Top Star Award along the way.

Chicago White Sox prospect Eloy Jimenez starred in the Midwest League in 2016, when he played for the South Bend Cubs. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Posted in Cedar Rapids Kernels, Midwest League, Quad Cities River Bandits, South Bend Silver Hawks | Leave a comment

Area around QC’s Modern Woodmen Park flooded

A combination of heavy rainfall and a lot of snow melting has caused severe flooding problems throughout the upper Midwest in recent days. That includes areas along the Mississippi River, including Davenport, Iowa, home of the Quad Cities River Bandits.

As you can see in the two photos in this post (shot by Josh Franzen and shared by the River Bandits), Modern Woodmen Park is an island of dryness in the middle of the flooded area of Davenport. Water levels began to recede Monday morning, but the river is expected to crest again later this week, according to WQAD-TV.

Flooding at the ballpark is nothing new, but it’s worth noting that before the stadium underwent major renovations in 2004, the entire facility would’ve been underwater in conditions like this.

I’ve previously written about flooding around the Quad Cities ballpark many times over the past eight years. Here are a few of those posts, all of which include multiple photos of the flooding:

Flood surrounds Modern Woodmen Park, sinks plans for Ferris wheel

Flood waters surround Modern Woodmen Park

River Bandits-Timber Rattlers game postponed

Posted in Midwest League, Quad Cities River Bandits | Leave a comment

Almighty Pork Sandwich wins T-Rats Food Fight

The “Almighty Pork Sandwich” was announced Monday as the winner of this year’s Wisconsin Timber Rattlers Food Fight contest.

The new fan-suggested food item, to be added to the Fox Cities Stadium menu for the upcoming season, is described by the team as “a grilled, Cher-make brat cut in half, topped with BBQ pulled pork, melted Swiss cheese, peppered bacon, red pepper jelly and fried pickles, served on an onion roll.”

You can see a photo of it, along with the four runners-up, in this post.

Posted in Midwest League, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers | Leave a comment

T-Rats Food Fight’s Final Five are up for fan vote

The five finalists in this year’s Food Fight contest. (Graphic from the Timber Rattlers)

The “Final Five” in this year’s Wisconsin Timber Rattlers Food Fight are now up for fans’ votes to decide which new food item will be added to the Fox Cities Stadium menu for the 2019 season.

The following are the team’s descriptions of the choices. Read them and vote for your favorite here. The winner will be announced Monday.

Mushroom & Swiss Steak Sandwich – Sliced beef sirloin topped with Swiss cheese and sautéed mushrooms, smothered in beef gravy and served on a brat roll.

Grilled Mac & Cheese Sandwich – Grill macaroni & cheese until crispy on outside and gooey inside, with crispy bacon and spicy mustard served on Texas toast.

BBQ Pulled Pork Chippers – Homemade potato chippers topped with BBQ pulled pork, creamy coleslaw and onion tanglers, with a drizzle of nacho cheese.

The Almighty Pork Sandwich – A grilled, Cher-make brat cut in half, topped with BBQ pulled pork, melted Swiss cheese, peppered bacon, red pepper jelly and fried pickles, served on an onion roll.

Grilled BBQ Mac & Cheese – Creamy macaroni & cheese, BBQ brisket with crispy bacon, onion tanglers and jalapeno peppers served on Texas toast.

Posted in Midwest League, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers | Leave a comment

This year’s Whitecaps Fan Food Vote is underway!

It’s that time of year again when the West Michigan Whitecaps ask their fans to choose a unique food item to add to the ballpark menu for the upcoming season.

This is the 10th annual Fan Food Vote contest, which in the past has yielded winning entries such as Beercheese Poutine (waffle fries, pulled pork, barbecue sauce and green onions, served with a beer-cheese sauce), Mt. Wing-suvius (a tower of gigantic onion rings layered with mac ‘n’ cheese, boneless chicken, beer cheese, bacon and green onions), Declaration of Indigestion (a giant Philly cheese steak sandwich), the Baco (a taco in a bacon shell), and the Auger Dogger (a deep-fried hot dog on a stick, wrapped in spiral potato chips). Fans can vote here through Friday to help determine which of the following fan-suggested food items will be added to the ballpark menu (descriptions and photos courtesy of the Whitecaps):

Cow-A-Bunga Burger

Popular Hawaiian cuisine includes SPAM (yes, SPAM!), pineapple (duh) and bacon (we assume because, duh, it’s bacon). That’s why we took three of those ingredients and used them as cheeseburger toppings. Aloha, indeed.

Deep Fried Jellybeans

You certainly won’t find this delectable snack during your Halloween trick-or-treating. Even people who avoid black jellybeans will be delighted. (Hot take: Black jellybeans are delightful.)

Fried Tequickles

Te-kee-ckles? Te-quick-les? Look, pronounce it however you like, but these fried pickles are breaded, then deep fried and served with a tequila mango sauce, so they are sure to start a party with your tastebuds. Worms not included.

Marge’s Donut Sundae

Forget a mask and pads, you’ll just need a napkin after you catch this donut shaped like a catcher’s mitt. This oversized donut is topped with vanilla ice cream, caramel and chocolate syrups, M&Ms, sprinkles and whipped cream, and comes in at just under 3,000 calories. There’s a reason Marge’s Donut Den is a West Michigan institution.


Here piggy, piggy! Fire-braised pork is topped with bacon and cheddar mac-n-cheese and then rolled into a 12-inch flour tortilla for a savory delight. It’s OK to drool.

River Rascal

Take me out to the ballgame, take me out to the crowd. Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack, heaped on a hot dog for a hearty snack. Smother it with peanut butter and no-bean chili, topped with pickles for fun. You may want 1,2,3 more of these before it’s all said and done.

Rocky Balburrito

Ever wonder how Rocky made it up those stairs so quickly? It’s because of the wonderful and nutritious food in Philadelphia. The most famous of which is the cheesesteak, which we’ve rolled into a burrito with liberal doses of cheese, onions and green peppers, and then deep-fried. After one of these, you’ll feel like a champ.

Tidal Wave

You won’t need to surf Nazaré, Portugal, to catch this huge wave. This healthy scoop of vanilla ice cream coated in Fruity Pebbles and rolled burrito-style in blue cotton candy will make you want to wave goodbye to your diet.

Twinkie the Pig

Urban legend has it that a Twinkie’s shelf life is infinite. But if they were wrapped in bacon and fried – as we like to do – then there’s no way they would last that long. Not. A. Chance.

Unicorn Popcorn

Unicorns may be mythical creatures, but this dessert is the real deal. A cup of cotton candy mixed with rainbow Dippin’ Dots and rainbow popcorn to create a kaleidoscope of colorful flavor (and sugar).

Posted in Midwest League, West Michigan Whitecaps | Leave a comment