Blog: July 2007

July 1, 2007. Troy Percival made his first plate appearance since 1996 (and only second of his career). He was using a natural LS M9, though I doubt it was his own model... Since he started using the Marucci bat, Albert is 5-8 (.625) with four walks, a sac fly and no strikeouts.

July 2, 2007. I was all excited tonight because the game was broadcast in HD and I could see details that aren't visible on regular television, such as the fact that Pujols' Marucci bat is a David Wright model. Even in HD, though, the screen grab wasn't great. Then I get an e-mail from a reader who was at the game in the front row with his camera. Needless to say, his shots blow my screen grab away. Here's Pujols carrying his Wright bat, and here's Molina swinging a Kelly Stinnett model. Turns out Molina's bat didn't have #15 on the knob; it's a black rectangle with a #4 below it. Pujols didn't need to change anything; he and Wright both wear #5. Thanks for the photos, Robert!

July 3, 2007. Encarnacion used a black X-Bat again tonight, but it wasn't the same Molina bat he used before... After Yadi fouled out to the catcher with his (Stinnett's) Marucci bat, he switched back to his two-tone X-Bat.

July 4, 2007. Players wore flags on their caps again. There were no obvious instances of flags falling off, though Encarnacion's flag looked high enough on his cap to fit another flag under it. Most flags were positioned near the rim and over the left ear... Didn't see a flag on Hal McRae's cap... Molina's added tape to the handle of his X-Bat... Brendan Ryan was using a black LS M9.

July 5, 2007. Pujols was still using the David Wright Marucci bat -- saw a clear shot of the barrel early on. But, after striking out and hitting into a double play, he switched back to his black Sam Bat... The stadium Authentics Store had a new batch of bats tonight. They were asking $500 for Rolen and Eckstein, $400 for Molina. They also had models from Duncan, Spiezio, Kennedy, Ludwick, Taguchi and Looper priced from $150 to $400.

July 6, 2007. Nothing new on the memorabilia front tonight, but it was intesting to attend a game when the Barry Bonds circus was in town. It reminded me of 1998 when McGwire was chasing Maris -- the ball boys bringing out specially marked balls whenever Bonds came to the plate, the flashbulbs popping with every pitch, the booing when Bonds was walked. Bonds was greeted with jeers each time he came up, but it was clear people wanted to see him swing the bat. I ventured out to right field for his last plate appearance and found a spot in the SRO section behind the Cards' bullpen. It was amazing when he came up how numerous police officers seemed to materialize out of thin air to patrol the area... Bonds used both SSK and Sam Bat during the game.

July 7, 2007. Pujols went back to Marucci tonight, though it was a different bat than the one he had been using. With a 2-5 performance, his average with Marucci in July is .429. He's hitless with other bats... Bonds again was using both Sam Bat and SSK.

July 8, 2007. My source who provided photos of Pujols using a David Wright bat was at the game today and tells me Albert's current Marucci bat is his personal model... For the first time this season, Bennett used something other than his ash LS black bat -- an ash LS natural bat... For the third day in a row, Bonds switched between his Sam Bat and SSK model... Good to see old friend Steve Kline can still make a cap filthy, regardless of the material used by New Era.

July 9, 2007. Pujols swung a black Sam Bat in tonight's Home Run Derby. Too bad Big Papi didn't bring him a special bat in a custom box so I'd have something more to write about.

July 10, 2007. So, if you don't actually play in the game, can your jersey be considered "game-worn?" Obviously, no bat news tonight. But, a couple interesting notes about the jerseys worn by Albert, Tony and the coaching staff. First, the Hancock memorial patch was worn lower on the sleeve near the hem to make room for the All-Star Game patch. This was a different approach than the one taken by the Phillies, who wore their Vukovich patch above the ASG patch. And second, according to Paul Lukas at UniWatch, the Cards' equipment manager had special tagging made by Liebe and sewn into the tails of all jerseys worn by Cardinals' representatives.

July 11-12, 2007. No games. All-Star break.

July 13, 2007. Kennedy was using a black bat for the first time this season; it was a Rawlings... Pujols started the game making three outs, including a strikeout. So, he switched from Marucci to his black Sam Bat and hit his first home run since June 14.

July 14, 2007. Noticed Molina using a natural Sam Bat for the first time this season... Maroth is using a natural LS ash bat, which means he's no longer using Eckstein's M9 bats. Maybe he now has his own model... Kennedy's black Rawlings bat has white handle tape... Encarnacion is using X-Bat again.

July 15, 2007. Molina is using an X-Bat with the label down and no handle tape. If I hadn't seen this and came across that bat down the road, I'd assume it was used by someone else... Saw a commercial for 2K Sports' "The Bigs" video game featuring a simulated Pujols. With all the attention to detail in those games, why is Albert swinging a red-ring Rawlings bat? He hasn't used that bat since 2005 (just 5 plate appearances) and hasn't used Rawlings with any regularity since the 2002 season... Speaking of which, I know about a signed 2002 Rawlings Pujols gamer that's for sale. Photos and information available here.

July 16, 2007. In today's Post-Dispatch, a reader asked beat writer Derrick Goold about the team's reaction to the new New Era caps. Here's Derrick's reply: "The Cardinals coaches came first. They stopped wearing the new hats during spring training. A few veterans stopped wearing the hats during pre-game workouts next. Now, only a handful of the players still wear the BP hats. Most wear the official game hat instead. It has little to do with the function of the hat and everything to do with the style. That wheel well-like look about the ears has few fans."... Eckstein again is wearing the jersey that's missing the Majestic logo on the sleeve... The Pujols bat that was available for sale (see yesterday's post) has been sold. Thanks for your interest.

July 17, 2007. Anyone else notice that, since switching to the black Rawlings bat, Kennedy is batting .438 and has hit his only two HRs of the season? Unfortunately, he broke that bat tonight. Here's hoping he has more of them in the locker room.

July 18, 2007. Nothing new on the uni or bat front tonight, so I want to address a question that was posed to me by a reader. He asked why I generally steer buyers away from Pujols Rawlings bats, yet advertised one for sale on my site. Here's why. Albert's use of Rawlings in 2001 and 2002 is kind of like his use of Max Bat in 2007 or X-Bat last season -- he used them, but not as much as other brands (like Sam Bat). Early on, it's my understanding Albert often used Rawlings for BP, but used Sam or LS in games. If this Rawlings had a ton of use, I probably would have advertised it as a likely BP bat. The fact it didn't have a lot of ball marks actually was a positive in my mind. After 2002, Albert's use of Rawlings has been very rare. Since I began documenting every plate appearance for him, he's used Rawlings 5 times (all in 2005). I wouldn't advocate a Rawlings dated 2003 or later. The 2002 bat, on the other hand, is something I was comfortable with because of when it was manufactured and the use it exhibited.

July 19, 2007. Great piece today on ESPN.com's Page 2 by UniWatch writer Paul Lukas about his recent visit to Liebe Athletic Lettering in suburban St. Louis. In addition to the written column, there's a short video program with some interesting shots of how jerseys are lettered, numbered and embroidered. Cardinals fans especially will appreciate the segment showing the birds on bat being created. For the record, Liebe no longer does this for the Cards; jerseys now come from Majestic already embroidered, numbered and lettered. Liebe does, though, still do some retail shirts with the Cardinals logo.

July 20, 2007. Nothing new with bats or unis, so I've started paying attention to players' fielding gloves. Tonight, I noticed several players wear black Rawlings gloves, including Molina, Eckstein, Miles, Edmonds and Pujols (his also has red trim and a gold label). Wainwright wears a brown Mizuno. Izzy wears a black TPX (Louisville Slugger).

July 21, 2007. Springer had his first plate appearance of the season. He used a natural ash LS... Got to see a few more gloves tonight. Unfortunately, several of them belonged to pitchers (not a good sign). Looper had a black Nike. Cate wears a black Rawlings. Percival has a black Mizuno. Springer uses a well-worn, tan Rawlings. Flores has a black Wilson, as does Bennett and Ludwick. Ryan plays with a black and brown Rawlings.

July 22, 2007. Molina was using a Pujols model Marucci bat tonight... It's tough to see the gloves of outfielders during a broadcast, but the linked photo confirms that Taguchi is using a black Mizuno and Encarnacion is using a black Rawlings. Thompson also had a black Mizuno while Franklin was wearing a black Nokona. Rolen uses a tan Mizuno.

July 24, 2007. Wells was using a two-tone Wilson glove tonight. Kennedy's glove looks like a Rawlings (black). Jimenez has a reddish TPX/Louisville glove. Must be fairly new, because earlier this season, he was using a black one. I'm not sure, but I believe Schumaker also is using a black TPX.

July 25, 2007. Ryan was wearing the pants high and showing off the stripes tonight. Nice... I believe Duncan uses a black Rawlings glove. This photo seems to back that up... Albert is 0-9 this series using two different black Sam Bats. What are the chances he'll be using a new bat tomorrow night?

July 26, 2007. Albert fooled me -- he started with the black Sam Bat. But, after two pop ups to first base, he scrapped Sam in favor of Marucci. He then reached base three times on a HBP, a HR and a single... Looper also was using a natural Marucci tonight. I assumed it was a Pujols or Stinnett model until a closeup showed it was his own personal model. The Cardinals broadcasters were commenting about the black ring around the cup as though they'd never seen a bat like that before. Which makes me wonder what they're watching when Pujols and Molina bat.

July 27, 2007. Bennett was using a galen LS ash bat tonight. He's the first Cardinals player to use the galen (wine) finish this season... Just acquired my first Marucci bat -- a Stinnett model that was used by Molina. The centerbrand is a decal, but the words "Bone Rubbed" are laser etched. The barrel also is laser etched and very sharp looking (I'm guessing the CB15 stands for Carlos Beltran). The edges of the ring around the cupped end aren't as defined as I expected; almost looks like it's stenciled on. The knob is very cool -- has the date it was made stamped at the top, the player's uniform number in the middle, and what I assume is the length and weight stamped at the bottom (it's obscured on this bat by the MLB hologram). You can tell by the "halo" around the knob that this bat has a pinkish, almost white glazed finish. That explains why it appears so bright on television. Overall, a very good looking bat... An interesting aside on that bat -- because it's broken into two pieces, MLB placed holograms on both pieces with different, consecutive numbers.

July 28, 2007. Falkenborg was called up and is now wearing #60. His old #40 is being worn by Percival. Falkenborg used a natural LS ash bat and a black Rawlings glove... Ludwick used a black Carolina Clubs bat... I was at the game and saw the Authentics Store had several new bats. Items of interest: There was a Shelley Duncan bat that had been used by Chris Duncan; there was a Wilson Rawlings bat with #4 on the barrel end (his number in Houston); Wilson's Crown bat (the only one I've ever seen) is for sale; and Brendan Ryan's Max bat is a model 26. The store also has 2007 BP jerseys for sale. It was the first time I got a close look at the "iron on" letters and numbers. They have kind of a felt feel. The bat on the logo is the same way; not embroidered, as I expected. I thought the BP jerseys in the gift shop were cheap knock-offs -- turns out they're pretty much the same shirt the players wear.

July 29, 2007. Falkenborg was designated for assignment, which means it's possible he's pitched his last game for the Cards. If that's the case, he wore #60 for just one game... The Washington Nationals Web site notes that the Cardinals will play the Nats in a Negro League tribute game on August 3. The Nationals will wear the uniforms of the Homestead Grays and the Cardinals will wear St. Louis Stars uniforms... Eleven nights later, the Cards will participate in a TBTC game with the Brewers. Both teams will wear replicas of their 1982 uniforms. Let's hope these look more authentic than those horrible 1971 jerseys worn in San Diego.

July 31, 2007. Pujols is still using the Marucci bat, and the tar is starting to build. Tonight's bat had maybe as much stickum as I've seen on a Pujols bat (but not nearly as much as you see on many bats sold on ebay)... The Cards apparently tried and failed to acquire Matt Morris, so his old #35 (worn this season by Esposito and Stinnett) could be filled instead by Joel Pineiro. Pineiro wore #38 during his career in Seattle and #36 this season in Boston. Those numbers currently are being used by coach Marty Mason and Russ Springer.