Blog: March/April 2008

March 31, 2008. So, if opening day is rained out in the third inning, is the equipment still considered game used?... Albert was swinging the Gwynn-finished Marucci he used during the spring. Glaus was using a black ash LS. Ankiel was using a natural ash LS, but it was his model, not a generic team bat. Izturis used a black M9 with white handle tape. And Miles used a natural Max. The other guys all used the same bats they used last season. As always, I'll be tracking the team's bat use here.

April 1, 2008. It's opening day, again! Glaus and Izturis became the first guys to use two brands in the same game. Glaus used a black LS ash bat and then a natural Sam Bat; Izturis used a Gwynn-finished X-Bat and then a black LS M9. Glaus used a Sam Bat during BP... Rico Washington may have been the first Cards player to use Akadema in a regular season game... Washington, McClellan and Barton all made their MLB debuts. Barton used a natural ash LS... Albert was using a black Sam Bat in BP, but used Marucci during the game... Albert's shoes have what appears to be the Pujols Family Foundation logo on the heel... Ankiel's BP bat's barrel was wrapped in tape. He was the only player I saw who did that.

April 2, 2008. The feared demise of Louisville Slugger in St. Louis was premature. Kennedy, Wellemeyer and McClellan all used LS for their first ABs this season. Other LS users in the early going include Ankiel, Barton, Glaus, Izturis, Lohse and Wainwright... The most popular bat among regulars might be the Gwynn-finished X-Bat. It's being swung by Molina, Schumaker and Izturis.

April 3, 2008. Add LaRue and Thompson to the list of Louisville Slugger users. Kind of hard to tell with LaRue, though, since his pine tar application rivals that of George Brett... Glaus was using a black Carolina Clubs bat, making him the first player to swing three brands this season. The bat actually was Chris Duncan model... Miles and Ludwick both had white handle tape on their bats... I'm beginning to think Izturis uses his X-Bat when swinging from the left side and the LS when batting right handed.

April 4, 2008. Looper became the second Redbird to wield a Marucci model this season... Barton added white criss-crossed tape to his handle... Izturis again used the LS M9 when batting right handed, the X-Bat when hitting lefty.

April 5, 2008. My Izturis theory must be true. In today's game, he came to the plate batting left handed and carrying an X-Bat. But, when the Nats changed pitchers and brought in lefty Ray King, Izturis moved to the other side of the plate -- and grabbed his LS M9. Interesting... Wainwright changed from his LS ash bat to a maple LS M9 today... Glaus was back to his Louisville Slugger today after using Sam and Carolina Clubs the past couple of days. He switches like Albert used to. Must be searching for his groove... Speaking of Albert, he has been the model of consistency, using his Gywnn-finished Marucci bat for every plate appearance this season.

April 6, 2008. Glaus tried Rawlings today, his fourth brand this season... Albert used a black Marucci in his second plate appearance. I believe that's the first time I've ever seen him use an all-black Marucci.

April 7, 2008. Pujols finally broke down and used something other than Marucci. In his third plate appearance, he swing a black Sam Bat. After grounding out to third, he was back to his Marucci the next time up... Albert has been using his black Sam Bat for BP. I'm assuming he did tonight, as well, based on this pre-game shot... In the first inning, Ankiel shattered the bat he'd been using. The natural ash LS he used the rest of the game had a heavier coating of tar than the bat he'd been using... Glaus also was using a new, black LS ash bat.

April 8, 2008. Most starters (except Pujols and Izturis) wore the new road Cool Base jersey. Kudos to Majestic -- the armpit vent isn't terribly obvious and the jersey color seems to match the pants pretty well... Reyes used a Skip Schumaker model X-Bat... MLB.com reports that players again will have the option this year to wear Jackie Robinson's #42 on April 15. No word yet whether any Redbirds will choose to do so. While I appreciate the thought of honoring Robinson, the situation in St. Louis is complicated a bit because #42 also is retired for Bruce Sutter. I trust the team would extend the courtesy to Sutter of at least asking for his blessing before letting players take the field wearing his retired number... While we're honoring players by wearing their numbers (as the Reds did on opening day for Joe Nuxhall), how about doing it for Stan Musial -- while he's still alive to appreciate it? This year represents the 45th anniversary of Stan's last season. How cool would it be to see the entire team in 1963-era flannels with #6 on the back? Even if it's just for some kind of opening ceremony. One caveat, though -- they must be produced by Rawlings, not Majestic, which has proven history and accuracy mean little when producing throwbacks.

April 9, 2008. Nothing new tonight from a bat or uniform perspective. Seems most players this season are more consistent with their bat selection. There's also not been much roster movement, so nothing to report concerning uniform numbers. But, what the heck -- the Cards are 7-2. Boring seems to be working. Guess I'll have to start paying attention to fielding gloves, batting gloves, cleats and wrist bands.

April 10, 2008. Once again, nothing new to report... Late West Coast games plus busy work days equal late posts. Sorry... I learned today that Saturday's game will not be televised in St. Louis. It's the only one this season and the first in recent memory. So, if there are any folks in the Bay Area who will be at Saturday's game, I'd love to have a report about what you witness -- especially in regards to Albert's bat use. (Personally, I'm rooting for Tony to give him a day off.) Note to the geniuses at Fox -- we really don't care about the Sawx and the Yanks here in the Midwest. If we were interested in Boston and New York, we'd just tune into ESPN, the 24-hour home of Yanks/Sawx coverage.

April 11, 2008. Brian Barton used a different bat during one plate appearance tonight. I couldn't identify the brand (even though I had a clear look at it), but it had a black barrel and a brown handle with criss-crossed white handle tape. He hit a double with it, then went back to his LS natural ash bat... Kyle Lohse is still using LS ash, but switched from natural to black.

April 12, 2008. Today's game is not televised, so for the first time since I began this blog, I have nothing to observe. Assuming John Rooney and Mike Shannon don't comment on each player's bat use during their radio broadcast, I'm at a complete loss. See you tomorrow! UPDATE: I just watched the game on MLB.com. Not the best quality picture, but I was able to see that Pujols used his Marucci bat in all six plate appearances. Too bad Fox skipped this game. It had the suspense of a no-hitter through six innings, a big comeback, a blown save and extra inning heroics. But hey, that 2-hour rain delay at Fenway was riveting, too.

April 13, 2008. Three new bats today. Pineiro made his'08 debut using a black LS M9. Kennedy swung a natural Rawlings bat. AndMiles used a Galen-finished LS ash bat, which is what I saw him use often during spring training. It had white tape on the handle and he used it from the left side only (sticking with his Max Bat from the right side).

April 14, 2008. According to this press release, the entire team will be wearing #42 tomorrow to honor Jackie Robinson. I was hoping the Cards would follow the lead of other teams and select one player to honor Robinson. That would make last year's tribute unique. Of course, nobody asked me.

April 15, 2008. Last season, Kip Wells had a monopoly on starting games in which the Cardinals wore throwback jerseys (5/11 vs. SD, 8/3 vs. Washington and 8/14 vs. Milwaukee). Now, for the second consecutive season, Braden Looper has started the game on Jackie Robinson Day. He's won both times, each against the Brewers. Apparently, #42 is good luck for both Looper and the team (here's a shot of Looper's jersey from the 2007 JRD contest)... The Cards were one of nine teams whose entire roster donned #42. Players I was able to find photos of include Pujols, Schumaker, Glaus, Ankiel, McClellan, Kennedy and Molina... I assume the jerseys were tagged similarly to those from last season, when the players' usual uniform numbers were written on the laundry tags.

April 16, 2008. All those #42 jerseys yesterday again makes me wish the Cardinals would honor Musial in the same manner. May 13 is the 5oth anniversary of his 3,000th hit -- how about a 1958 throwback uni to honor the Man?... Albert used a black Marucci in his last plate appearance, a slight departure from his Gwynn-finished stick.

April 17, 2008. Had a chance to attend today's game as a field-trip chaperone (the phrase "hearding kittens" comes to mind). I took six fifth graders out to the right-centerfield bleachers when the gates opened. Before the Brewers packed it in, five of the boys had balls. Pretty amazing. Between the Cards and Brewers, I saw three different types of balls. One was the regular MLB ball; one was the same, but without the MLB logo on the bottom panel; and two balls had the "last season at Shea Stadium" logo with blue Sharpie marks on the sweet spot. I'm guessing those were rejects given to the Brewers for BP... Rico Washington used a black LS M9 today, departing from his typical Akadema bat.

April 18, 2008. Stopped at Ozzie's restaurant for lunch today and took a close look at his 1987 All-Star game jersey, which is framed and hung in a meeting room off the main dining room. It appears to have retail tagging; instead of the typical tail tags, it had a collar tag with "Adult 40" on it. A special strip tag was sewn on the front left tail noting the ASG, location and date. The shirt showed some use. Wonder what the story is with that... Also took Todd Perry up on his invitation to visit the Pujols Family Foundation headquarters, where I had a chance to examine a dozen broken Pujols gamers from last season. It was satisfying to see how consistent they were in terms of use, ball marks, knob notations, etc. Only one had ball marks on the wrong hitting side. When we flipped it up, it had "4" on the knob, which makes sense because Molina bats with the label both up and down. There were Sam Bats, Max Bats and Marucci brands in the pile. The Max bats were 243 models. The Marucci bats were CB15 and AP5 Custom Cut models. All of the Sam Bats were coded 7575 except one made in July '07 -- it simply had Albert's initials instead of a numeric code... I also was able to examine a couple Louisville Slugger P147 models that were turned for Albert. They look like the I13L, but with a much narrower handle... Finally, Todd showed me a pair of cleats. Without giving anything away, let's just say there are several custom markings that would make it difficult to fake a pair of Pujols cleats. Thanks for your time, Todd!

April 19, 2008. Nothing new in today's game, other than the fact the Cardinals were shut out... Lost out on a signed Yadi game-used X-Bat bat at the stadium auction last night. It sold for $600, even though it had "BP" noted on the knob. It's funny how I always seem to get outbid by women... Just a couple more notes from yesterday's game: Washington used a natural bat in his one plate appearance, but he swung at the first pitch and I couldn't see what brand it was. He was back to black bats today; and Ron Villone didn't get to bat (he was stranded in the on-deck circle), but if he had, it appeared he had a Rick Ankiel LS ash bat in his hands.

April 20, 2008. What's the deal with Hal McRae? During today's game, he was wearing his 2007 jersey. It was obvious because the Hancock memorial patch was on his right sleeve and the World Champions patch was on his left sleeve. What' even stranger is that he's supposed to be wearing #15, but his old jersey is #8. That's Troy Glaus' number this season. During a split screen, both were shown wearing the same number! Odd... Villone finally got to hit today, but instead of the Ankiel bat he'd swung in the on-deck circle on Saturday, he used a natural LS M9... Reyes used a black ash LS, as did Miles. Both were new sticks for each player.

April 21, 2008. Noticed in today's paper that 10 players recently signed contracts with Hillerich and Bradsby. One of those players is Colby Rasmus, who now will have his own signature model Louisville Slugger... Didn't get a good look at McRae tonight to see which jersey he's wearing... I know I'm getting grouchy in my old age, so take this comment with that in mind. Why can't players button their top buttons? Some of them look like slobs. Glaus is the worst offender; you can actually see the Cardinals logo on his undershirt. Wainwright also leaves his flap open, but the solid red isn't as disturbing as the gray undershirts. Pujols and Molina often leave their top buttons undone, but somehow, their jerseys usually stay closed. C'mon, guys. Those jerseys aren't like nooses. They are quite comfortable when buttoned to the top. Really... Adios, Rico Washington. After all those years in the minors, we're glad you got to live the dream.

April 22, 2008. The injury to Izturis combined with the Cardinals' short bench caused LaRussa to put Pujols at second base and LaRue at first beginning in the ninth inning. LaRue used Pujols' first baseman's mitt; it's easy to spot because of the gold labels. Pujols used a Rawlings fielder's glove, black on the back and brown inside with a red label... McRae was wearing a short-sleeve windbreaker, so the mystery of his road jersey number continues... Izturis used his X-Bat from the right side and grounded out weakly to short. He'd singled with his LS M9 before that and again after switching back to it. It's the first time I noticed him using the X-Bat from the right side. Wonder if he grabbed the wrong bat by mistake... I wish Izzy hadn't blown this one. He was scheduled to bat in the 13th inning. Few things are rarer than an Izzy plate appearance... Not a Cardinals note, but Bill Hall had a white band painted around his black LS M9, making it look like a Rawlings bat.

April 23, 2008. Here are a couple screen-grab photos of the fielder's glove Albert used during Wednesday's game. You can see the rectangular Rawlings label, the oval Rawlings label next to it and "Rawlings" stitched in yellow thread along the thumb. The outside halves of thumb and pinky are light brown, same as the palm side of the glove... Wellemeyer used a natural Marucci bat tonight, a departure from his Louisville Slugger... Yadi used a new X-Bat with a Hornsby handle instead of a natural one. It has the same finish as the Sam Bat he's used this season... Glaus used two natural Rawlings bats during the game, one caked in pine tar (tough to even read the logo or see the band), one that was much cleaner.

April 24, 2008. Brendan Ryan returned tonight wearing his typical #13. His bat, however, was not typical. It was an A-Bat, made by Superior Bat Company. I determined that after getting a decent look at the label and doing a little Internet surfing. I now realize the "unidentified" bat Brian Barton used back on 4/11 also was an A-Bat... Hal McRae is wearing a dugout jacket. So far this season, I've seen him in an actual jersey once (since opening day introductions) -- and that jersey had the wrong number.

April 25, 2008. Ankiel switched to a black Rawlings tonight. That's a stick he used last season (and even as a rookie pitcher), but it's the first time this year he's used anything other than a natural ash LS.

April 26, 2008. Birdbats' West Coast correspondent Bill Russell reports that Jim Edmonds is still using bats branded with "St. Louis Cardinals" on the barrel. Bill also notes that the first couple of games he saw Edmonds, Jim's bats didn't have their trademark white spiral tape on the handle, but they do now.

April 27, 2008. Brendan Ryan looks like Vladimir Guerrero or Manny Ramirez in the making. Not as a player, but as the owner of a dirty batting helmet. He's a long way from Vlad or ManRam territory, but just four games in, Ryan's helmet is achieving a buildup of pine tar on the front. Most Cardinals players have nice, clean helmets, so it'll be interesting to see if the clubbies keep Brendan's lid shiny or let it go to the dogs.

April 28, 2008. There were broken bats galore flying around Busch tonight. On consecutive plate appearances, Duncan sent bat barrels soaring out toward the second baseman (nearly decapitating Pujols the second time). Izturis also launched the barrel of his black M9 in his last AB... Just a few innings earlier, Izturis had used his M9 from the left side, the first time I'd noticed him doing that... With Ludwig leading off, the first two batters (Ankiel being the other) both used black Rawlings bats. Glaus also used Rawlings.

April 29, 2008. Today is the first anniversary of Josh Hancock's death. According to Post-Dispatch scribe Derrick Goold, "This spring, several new players asked about wearing No. 32 and were told it would be unassigned for several seasons"... Ankiel sent a barrel flying into the stands in the second inning, hitting a female fan about 18 rows up. According to one eyewitness, she was escorted from her seat, her souvenir in tow... Pineiro used a two-tone X-Bat, just like the one Yadi has been swinging lately... Albert went to the all-black Marucci for his last two plate appearances.

April 30, 2008. Is there a rule limiting how many players can show off their striped socks? Now that Brendan Ryan is on the roster, it seems Brian Barton has abandoned the high cuffs in favor of pajama pants. Too bad... Speaking of Ryan, he's another guy who needs to button the top button. Like Glaus, you can see the Cards logo on his undershirt... LaRue went through at least two bats today, maybe more. His first bat was caked in tar, but in his last AB, it was much cleaner... Albert was back to his regular two-toned Marucci.