Blog: June 2008

June 1, 2008. Ankiel used a natural Rawlings today. He's been using a variety of bats lately... Albert achieved a first (as far as I can tell) in May by using the same brand of bat for an entire month. He came close to that in April and September 2006 (primarily Sam Bat), September 2007 (mostly Marucci) and April this year (all but one plate appearance with Marucci), but May was all Marucci... All but 14 plate appearances in May featured the Gwynn finish. The others were the black Marucci. He hit .231 with one HR using the black bat; .393 with 8 HR using the Gwynn finish... For the season, Albert is hitting .385 using the Gwynn Marucci; .200 with the black Marucci; and is 0-1 with the black Sam Bat... Kelvin Jimenez was optioned back to Memphis and Mark Worrell was recalled today. He's wearing #67.

June 2, 2008. It's interesting how the "Memphis Mafia" are being assigned numbers in the 60s when so many lower numbers are available. Mather, Perez, Parisi and Worrell are wearing numbers 62, 63, 65 and 67. Currently, nobody is wearing numbers 22, 28, 40 or 53. In the spring, those digits belonged to Juan Gonzalez, D'Angelo Jimenez, Cliff Politte and Mark Johnson. I'm guessing at least two of those guys will never see the turf at Busch.

June 3, 2008. Mark Worrell made his debut tonight, so his use of #67 is official. I've been slow this season updating the uniform number database by name and number, but the 2008 team listing is up to date... The position of the #62 on the front of Mather's road uniform is where it belongs, about 1" below the birds on bat logo. I'll be interesting to see if the number on his home uniform is moved up where it belongs when the team returns home.

June 5, 2008. Mark Worrell homered in his first MLB at-bat in the second game of today's double-header. He used a natural LS M9... Other than Worrell, two new bats were swung in game two: Miles used a natural LS ash; and Parisi used a black LS ash... Just a reminder that you can find the complete list of the team's 2008 bat use under the "Notes and Articles" tab. Or, you can just click here.

June 6, 2008. Mitchell Boggs was recalled today and assigned #68. That makes five players on the 2008 roster who have worn numbers in the 60s. The only other season when five different numbers from 60-69 were assigned was 2001. Last year, six players wore numbers in the 60s, but only four unique numbers were assigned; two numbers were reused during the year... Not counting coach Joe Cunningham (#69, 1982) and two old-timers who wore #61 on their sleeves in 1923 and 1924, the first recent player to wear a number in the 60s was Gibson Alba in 1988. He wore #61. The other 6X numbers were assigned in 1990 or later... Boggs became the third #68 in team history... Boggs' jersey likely was whipped up by the Houston clubhouse staff. The number on the front was slightly askew and maybe a bit low; the relationship of the name and number on the back also looked a tad off.

June 7, 2008. I've noticed this season that some black bats aren't as black as they used to be. I'm currently repairing a maple Rick Ankiel Rawlings bat that has a thin coat of black on the barrel. I also received an e-mail last week from a reader who has an all-black Marucci Pujols bat. He thought the bat had a black handle and a "dark maroon or brown" barrel that just looked black on television. Well, I think I found a reason. Brian Hillerich, who runs the pro bat line at H&B, recently posted online that MLB is "starting to crack down on colors. This year MLB required us to send in samples of black maple bats. They now want to see the grains of the bats to make sure it is a solid piece of wood. I had to send in two samples; my first one didn't pass. That rule I don't mind; it's easier to make a thinner looking black than a thicker one." So, there you have it. If you acquire a black maple bat used in 2008 and you can see the grain through the finish, it's because MLB now requires it.

June 8, 2008. Apparently, Brendan Ryan considers Marucci his "backup bat." In today's game, Ryan flung his black LS M9 three rows into the seats behind the Cardinals dugout. The batboy replaced it with a natural Marucci, which Ryan used to line the game-winning hit up the middle. "I guess I'm just glad I lost the other bat," he joked later. The backup bat itself was sacrificed in the ninth inning, snapped in Ryan's at-bat against Jose Valverde. "It lived a good life," Ryan said. "It left a legacy, in my mind"... Joe Mather shattered another of his Zinger bats today.

June 9, 2008. If you're in the market for an authentic, signed Albert Pujols baseball, let me know. The baseball is a 2006 World Series ball and Albert signed it below the WS logo at the 2007 Winter Warm Up. Selling on consignment; $260 shipped and it's yours.

June 10, 2008. Mitchell Boggs used a natural LS M9... It could be my imagination, but Boggs' jersey looked more consistent with those of the other players, in terms of name and number placement, than the one he wore in his debut.

June 11, 2008. There's a jersey currently on eBay advertised as a 1945-51 Cardinals gamer. I contacted the seller shortly after it was listed to let him know: a) The jersey dates to 1949-50 --'49 was the first year the birds' tails dropped below the bat and '50 was the last season the bat was black, not yellow; b) Pro jerseys those two seasons had zipper fronts and should have chain stitching in the tail noting the player and the year; and c) Minor league jerseys during those years often looked like the pro jerseys except they had buttons instead of zippers (it was cheaper) and no chain stitching. The jersey being offered almost surely is a minor league shirt, possibly from the Omaha Cardinals, one of the teams' many minor league affiliates (several of which were called "Cardinals"). After several days, I have not received acknowledgment from the seller regarding this information, nor has the listing been changed in any way. If you're bidding on this jersey, I thought you'd want to know.

June 12, 2008. One of the contenders for the title of "Mr. Consistency" dropped out of the running tonight. Chris Duncan, who had used nothing but black Carolina Clubs this season, used a natural Rawlings bat... Pineiro used a natural LS M9... With Duncan swinging Rawlings, there was a point where four straight Redbirds came to the plate with Rawlings -- Ludwick, Ankiel, Glaus and Duncan.

June 13, 2008. Duncan made another switch tonight, opting for a black LS M9. He has used that bat before, but very little... Mather had a different bat tonight. It had a wine handle and black barrel, similar to the finish used often by Yade and Izturis. I believe it was a Zinger.

June 14, 2008. Duncan must be at the point where he'll try anything to find a groove. In his third plate appearance, he came to the plate with a natural Marucci, his fourth brand this week. I can't be sure, but it looked like Braden Looper's name on the barrel... Another contender for "Mr. Consistency" gave up his challenge. Ryan Ludwick used a black Marucci in his last two plate appearances. It looked to be his own model... Ankiel used a black bat in his last AB, but I couldn't tell if it was a Max Bat or if he, too, was trying Marucci. I'll never know for sure -- he broke the bat on the first pitch before I could get a great look at it.

June 15, 2008. Duncan was back to a natural Rawlings; looked like Ankiel's model... Ankiel came up one time with a two-toned bat. I think it was a Zinger... Ludwick was back to Rawlings all day... Boggs was using a natural Marucci... The players were wearing blue ribbons on their jerseys for Father's Day. Some also wore blue wrist bands... Glaus' Rawlings bat has some of the heaviest pine tar I've seen recently, at least by a Cardinals player.

June 17, 2008. Duncan switched back to his black Carolina Clubs bat, but with a twist -- he's using white handle tape... I thought it was interesting how many players were using handle tape tonight. In addition to Duncan, other tape users included Schumaker, Ludwick, Ankiel, Ryan, Barton and Pineiro... Here's more proof that there are few absolutes when it comes to jerseys. Received photos today of an Eric Davis pregame jersey. The red-beaked birds indicate it was made in 1998 (before Davis was with the Cards), but the MLB logo on the back collar suggests it was altered and used in 2000. The owner actually had a shot of Davis wearing such a jersey. He also had a 1999 home white of Davis with the same MLB collar logo. That logo, of course, didn't appear until 2000. It seems the MLB logo patch was added to some older jerseys so they could be used in 2000.

June 18, 2008. I learned today that the jerseys the team wore on Jackie Robinson Day 2008 will be offered via a promotion with Mobil On the Run convenience centers. Fans can purchase raffle tickets at local stores and win the shirts through July 17. Don't know yet how much the chances cost or how the jerseys will be awarded. Funds raised by the promotion will be shared by Cardinals Care and the Jackie Robinson Foundation.

June 19, 2008. Brad Thompson used a natural LS M9... The Cardinals first wore names on the backs of their jerseys in 1962. However, I recently became aware of a 1962 road shirt showing heavy wear that did not have a name on the back (nor evidence one was ever there). Does anybody out there have any theories why a well-worn 1962 jersey would not have a NOB? Any photo evidence of a player in 1962 with no NOB? Please let me know if you do.

June 20, 2008. We've had our first Old Hickory sighting of the season, and it was swung by none other than Chris Duncan. He used a natural OH during his first three plate appearances. For those keeping track at home, that's five different brands Duncan has used the past couple of weeks.

June 21, 2008. Picked up the June issue of St. Louis Sports Magazine today with Colby Rasmus on the cover. He's holding a black Louisville Slugger ash bat that clearly is a contract model. Rasmus was one of ten players signed to contracts by H&B this spring. The bat also has white tape around the knob... In the same issue, I was surprised to see an article on Regency Superior's recent auction, complete with a photo of jerseys from Mike Shannon and Red Schoendienst that I won. There's also a mention of the 1974 Ted Simmons home jersey that I was thrilled to take home.

June 22, 2008. Nick Stavinoha became the ninth Redbird to make his MLB debut in 2008. He used a natural Marucci bat -- a Braden Looper model -- and wore #61. He becomes the sixth player to wear a number in the 60s this year. Tyler Johnson and Troy Cate wore #61 last season... Rick Ankiel was swinging a two-toned Max Bat. When he used the same bat a few days ago, I thought it might be a Zinger. But in high-def, it's clearly a Max Bat.

June 23, 2008. Look for the Cardinals to be wearing this cap on July 4. According to a press release from MLB: "All home teams over the July 4 weekend will host ceremonies honoring veterans in their community, with veterans throwing out the first pitches. For games that day, "Welcome Back Veterans" will adorn the bases and home plates. There will be custom lineup cards, with a place for a local veteran to place his or her signature. Among many fundraising activities, each club will auction off a set of bases, game-worn caps and a specially designed team jersey to benefit Welcome Back Veterans.

June 24, 2008. Nick Stavinoha was using a natural LS ash bat tonight. It appeared to be his own personal model (non-contract), an R161 if I'm not mistaken... Cardinals broadcaster Dan McLaughlin mentioned tonight that he'd talked to Russ Springer about his ratty old glove, and Springer said he'd been using the same one since his second year in pro ball. By my calculations, that would be 1991, meaning Russ has been employing the same leather for 18 seasons.

June 25, 2008. Duncan was using a natual ash Rawlings again tonight, but this one clearly is his own personal model... Several pink bats from Mother's Day are up for auction at MLB.com. Interesting to see all the brands that participated in the promotion. Along with Louisville Slugger, there are bats from: X-Bat, Marucci, B45, Nokona, Phoenix, Nike, Max Bat, SSK, Carolina Clubs, Hoosier, Old Hickory, Controlling the Game and -- despite reports it didn't make pink bats -- Rawlings. Again this year, at least so far, no Cardinals bats.

June 26, 2008. Albert was back today using his same Gwynn-finished Marucci -- 4 for 4 with a walk... The debate on banning maple bats makes me wonder what Albert and others would do. According to my records, except for one AB on 9/12/07, Albert hasn't used an ash bat with any regularity since September 2005. I've never seen Skip Schumaker use anything but maple, and Yadi Molina seems to have become a strict maple user. On the other hand, some maple guys are beginning to swing ash -- including Ankiel and Duncan. This should be interesting to watch as maple is scrutinized by MLB.

June 27, 2008. Stavinoha pinch hit using what appeared to be a pro-stock bat. It was a brown ash Louisville Slugger with gold foil stamping. I couldn't see the barrel marking clearly, but it did look generic... Yadi's bats currently do not have handle tape.

June 28, 2008. Nothing new tonight, so I'll throw out this fun fact about maple bats. Apparently, one of the moves under consideration by MLB is to regulate the dryness of maple wood used in bats. Drier bats are harder -- which players like -- but more prone to shattering. Louisville Slugger M9 bats are kiln dried to an 11 percent moisture content; most other manufacturers uses billets that have a moisture content of 6 percent or less. According to a rep from H&B, the company makes 60 percent of maple bats used in the MLB; the other 40 percent are divided among 31 companies.

June 29, 2008. Again, nothing new for the Redbirds. All I can say is, I'm glad we stick to the traditional home white and road gray. KC's powder blue jerseys with white pants are almost as bad as Boston's red alternate jersey. KC has a beautiful home uniform (now that the black drop shadow is gone); they should stick with it.

June 30, 2008. Mark Mulder made his return to active duty tonight, wearing his same old #30... Duncan was using black Carolina Clubs bats again.