116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS - Tyler Kehrer kind of digs his music. Donn Roach has no opinion.
“He's gotta be doing something right,” Roach said. “He's making a heck of a lot more money than me.”
The topic of discussion was Justin Bieber, believe it or not.
You're wondering what could possibly be the connection between the tween pop star and baseball. If you've been to any Cedar Rapids Kernels games recently, you've noticed one player wearing a purple backpack as the team is lined up on the first-base line for the pregame national anthem.
If you looked closely enough, you noticed it's a Bieber backpack. This was an idea from Beau Brooks to keep his fellow relievers mentally loose during a long season.
The guy that gives up the last bullpen run has to Bieber it up the following day. As an initiation to the team, new relievers supersede the allowed-run rule.
“Beau was like ‘OK, bullpen guys, you get to eat the candy. You give up the last run, you have to wear it,'” said Kehrer, the backpack wearer before Sunday afternoon's 5-4 loss to Burlington at Veterans Memorial Stadium. “So I had it (three) days, yesterday and again today.”
Unfortunately, Roach (4-6) will have it for Monday's Fourth of July contest against Burlington. He allowed the winning run in the top of the eighth on a leadoff double and Beau Taylor RBI single.
“Too many times. More than I should,” he said, when asked how many times he has been a member of Bieber Nation. “It's just to keep it light. Don't get too serious, you know? Just have fun.”
Things aren't real fun right now for the Kernels, who dropped to 35-45 overall and 3-7 in the Midwest League's second half. They have lost 35 of their last 50 games.
Many of those have followed Sunday's script. Burlington (50-30, 5-5) scored three times in the first inning against starting pitcher Brian Diemer, thanks to a crucial error.
Cedar Rapids fought back to take the lead, 4-3, on a Ricky Alvarez run-scoring double in the fifth, only to lose it late. That made it time for another lengthy postgame meeting, though the clubhouse seemed surprisingly loose after it was over.
“Just do the little things,” said Kernels Manager Brent Del Chiaro. “The errors, obviously, we've got to cut down on. We need more efficiency from our starting pitching ... The offense is coming around.”
Monday's game time is a unique 5:05, with postgame fireworks planned. Fans can then stay and watch the downtown fireworks from the ballpark.
Here is a link to the game boxscore: