Blog: May 2010

May 1 , 2010. Closer Ryan Franklin had his first plate appearance of the season today. He used a natural ash LS... LaRue used a black LS M9 and, for the first time this year, a natural ash LS... Coming out of commercial in the 8th inning, the camera used a tight shot of Brendan Ryan's natural Marucci bat knob as a backdrop for ad placement. The 33.5", 31.2 ounce stick was manufactured 4/26/10, just five days ago.

May 2 , 2010. Last week, I received an e-mail about this Ozzie Smith jersey asking if the lack of a straight hem was a sign of it being bogus. I'm not sure if Oz used a straight or athletic cut in his final season, but I did notice that the patch and tailored tag strip didn't look consistent with exemplars (offered jersey on left, an exemplar on right). I also knew Ozzie ordered many jerseys in '96 to give away as souvenirs. One such jersey, I recalled, was available on this Web site (seventh jersey down). I then noticed the autographs on both jerseys looked very similar -- as did the other elements. I'm convinced it's the same shirt. I'll keep you updated on my research, but needless to say, you might want to think twice before bidding on this Ozzie jersey.

May 3, 2010. As a follow-up to yesterday's blog entry, I spoke with Jim Yackel, who owned the Ozzie jersey on this site. Jim confirmed he sold it on 11/25/09, but hasn't taken it off his site yet. I called Vintage Authentics to share my research and concerns about the Ozzie jersey they have at auction, which I believe is an altered version of Jim's old shirt. I assume they now are doing their own research; meanwhile, the jersey is still available... If you're looking for another good photo-matching site, check out Cardinals' team photographer Scott Rovak's Web galleries.

May 4, 2010. Since some bat companies now stamp dates into the knobs of bats, the art of dating (newer) bats by their labeling is becoming irrelevant. It's still interesting, though, to note changes to bat labeling. Today, I learned Marucci has a new center brand for its 2010 bats. The logo/wordmark obviously is different. What's less obvious is that this is the fourth year in a row Marucci has changed its center brand. In 2007, the words "Bone Rubbed" were laser etched while the rest of the logo was a decal. In 2008, the entire center brand was a decal, though the letters were essentially individual decals. And in 2009, the logo was applied as a single decal; you can see the differences here. Granted, the changes until 2010 were subtle, but still noteworthy if you ever need to date a Marucci bat with a damaged or unreadable knob.

May 5 , 2010. The Ozzie Smith jersey in the Vintage Authentics auction is still running (see 5/2 and 5/3 entries)... Here are photos of the Colby Rasmus bat I have for sale. It was purchased from the Cardinals a year ago today. Contact me if you're interested... Still no word from the Cardinals about what kind of throwback uniform will be worn in Cincinnati on May 15 for the Civil Rights Game. We may have to wait for them to take the field before we know... Reader Tyler Flota spied a Matt Holliday bat that I overlooked when the Cards were in Frisco. During his seventh inning AB on 4/25, Holliday used a flame-finished ash LS. As this dugout shot shows, the bat was his personal model.

May 6, 2010. Holliday whipped out a Gwynn-finished Marucci today. Couldn't see the barrel, but a close up of the knob showed Pujols' #5 stamped into it and Holliday's #7 written below the #5... Hillerich & Bradsby announced today that more than 250 MLB players have ordered pink bats to use on Mother's Day. Of course, H&B isn't the only manufacturer to offer pink bats. Don't know yet which Cardinals players will be packing pink this Sunday... Happy birthday, Michael!

May 7, 2010. According to the Post-Dispatch, the following six players have received pink bats to use on Sunday: Mather, Holliday, Miller, Schumaker, Rasmus and Reyes. Bryan Anderson would have used a pink bat, but he's now in Memphis... Ryan Franklin used a bat tonight I couldn't identify. It was natural maple (I could see the slope test spot) and the center brand was oval, but it wasn't a LS. Did anybody get a good look at it?

May 8, 2010. Well, the mystery of Ryan Franklin's bat lasted 24 hours. Tonight, Joe Mather used the same kind of bat and I got a good look at the center brand. It's a Diego Bat, a new company headed by Oakland infielder Eric Chavez. Diego is Chavez's son's name... Jaime Garcia was swinging a black Marucci bat... Matt Holliday pinch hit in the eighth inning and used the flame-finished ash LS he previously used in SF and again last night. Pieces of the bat were dispersed widely on PNC's infield, a result of Matt's bat-shattering infield single.

May 9, 2010. Six players apparently received pink bats to use today, but only two actually saw action. Joe Mather used his LS ash model, and Kyle McClellan used Skip Schumaker's X-Bat. Since McClellan recorded his first MLB hit with the bat, there's a good chance that one won't make it to auction... Freese is once again swinging a black Old Hickory... The Ozzie Smith jersey I wrote about on 5/2 is still up and running at auction. No action has been taken by Vintage Authentics.

May 11, 2010. Matt Holliday used a black LS M9 tonight... The Cards' Stars and Stripes caps this year will look like this. Look for them on Memorial Day, July 4 and probably 9/11... Great article here about how the team doesn't have much flexibility in assigning uniform numbers. Among the interesting points made: #12 is being held in case Aaron Miles makes up back to the team; #35 is reserved for Adam Ottovino; LaRussa doesn't like seeing guys wearing numbers in the 60s; and pitchers are likely to get numbers in the 30s. Also some great anecdotes about why some players wear the numbers they currently do.

May 12, 2010. I'm happy to report the Ozzie Smith jersey I wrote about on 5/2 has been pulled from the Vintage Authentics auction... When I was researching Diego Bats a few days ago, I came across an interesting message board post from Brian Hillerich at H&B. As readers of this blog know, Pujols has not used Louisville Sluggers in quite a while. Now we know why. "The final straw was some warped bats he rolled across the floor in front of the whole clubhouse (and H&B head sales rep Chuck Schupp)," Brian wrote. "We were having drying issues with our Maple and we paid dearly for it. We have made our product better since then, but the damage is done."

May 13, 2010. Chris Carpenter used a flame-finished ash LS today with the H&B 125th anniversary logo. It looked like a Jason LaRue model. Inside the cup, you could see a blacked-out number and Carp's #29 added... For anyone who is curious about the black spot on maple bats and how the grain slope test works, here's a great site that explains it. This video also explains the process in simple terms and illustrates the difference between good maple and maple with grain slope issues.

May 14, 2010. Joe Mather was using another "off-brand" bat tonight, opting for a natural Phoenix bat... While most players in MLB are wearing undershirts with Nike swooshes on the collar, Skip Schumaker is bucking the trend. His shirt tonight had a New Balance logo... Still no official announcement what type of TBC jersey the Cards will wear for tomorrow's Civil Rights Game, but the Post-Dispatch's Derrick Goold wrote this morning that the style would be consistent with 1947, the year Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier.

May 15, 2010. The Cardinals, as anticipated, wore TBC uniforms based on the team's 1947 design for tonight's Civil Right's Game. Overlooking the pajama pants worn by most of the guys, these are the best looking TBC uniforms since 2003. I traveled to Cincinnati for the game and took many photos, some of which can be viewed here... McGwire wore the TBC uniform throughout the game. It marks just the third time this season Mac has worn a jersey instead of a sweatshirt or windbreaker -- opening day (for the pregame ceremonies only), Jackie Robinson Day and now the Civil Rights Game... Molina was wearing a regular batting helmet tonight, not his typical Cool-Flo... The handle tape on Mather's Phoenix bat changed from red to gray.

May 16, 2010. Mark McGwire's jersey from Jackie Robinson Day was auctioned yesterday to raise money for Ritenour High School's athletic department. That means Mac's shirt won't be one of the jerseys available in the annual JRD jersey raffle that begins shortly. The Cardinals differentiated players' jerseys for the game by simply writing their regular uniform number on the Majestic tail tag -- note the "25" inside the MLB logo. For any conspiracy theorists out there, I traced the provenance trail on this jersey; it's the real thing.

May 17, 2010. Both Yadier Molina and Jason Motte were swinging Gwynn-finished Marucci bats in today's game. It's the first time this year I've noticed Molina using anything other than X-Bat... The last time I was in the team's Authentic's Store, I was told MLB is doing another broken bat study. So, the team apparently won't be getting any new bat inventory for a while.

May 18, 2010. Holliday used a Gwynn-finished Old Hickory tonight. It was his eighth different kind of bat this season (manufacture/finish/wood), breaking a tie with Mather, who has used seven distinct bats... A couple interesting pieces have shown up on eBay this week. First, here's a Mark McGwire bat that's advertised as being used for HR number 576. I don't see anything in the photos to suggest otherwise; it has the proper use characteristics for a 2001 gamer... Second, here's an Albert Pujols jersey advertised as being worn in the 2000 Arizona fall league. Again, no reason to doubt this one. One might struggle with the prices on these items (especially the Mac bat), but they both appear on the surface to be great pieces of memorabilia.

May 19, 2010. It's no secret that Pujols game-used jerseys are rare. About the only ones you can count on as being legit are the spring training shirts sold or auctioned by the team (and even some of those have questionable use). If you've been waiting for the Cardinals to auction one, here's your chance. Other spring jerseys available thru 5/23 (5 p.m. CDT) include Molina, Franklin, Freese, Rasmus, Garcia and Ryan.

May 20, 2010. Another day, another new bat for Holliday. Today, it's a natural Marucci... Pink bats used by players on Mother's Day are already available online from MLB.com. Unfortunately, no Cardinals bats are listed. It took just 10 days from use to auction. Impressive... Apparently, Skip Schumaker uses one of Troy Glaus' old gloves, as noted in this article. During Monday's game, a ball got stuck between two fingers, keeping Skip from making the play. That shouldn't be a problem anymore now that bullpen catcher Jeff Murphy added some stitching between the fingers.

May 21, 2010. With Whitey Herzog's HOF induction this summer, talk about retiring numbers -- including the Rat's #24 -- has started again. The Cardinals maintain they don't want to retire too many numbers because they're don't have many with which to work. But, an analysis I did today suggests the real issue is that the Cardinals simply don't wear numbers as high as players on most teams. Ranking teams by their average uniform number (all numbers added, then divided by 32 -- the number of active players, the manager and six primary coaches), the Cards are 18th. The team could wear higher numbers and not look out of place at all. See "Notes and Articles" for a closer look.

May 22, 2010. P. J. Walters made his '10 debut today, being called up to replace Brad Penny, who went on the DL. He's wearing #62 as he did last season. He even got to bat; he used a natural ash LS... Kyle Lohse used a black Marucci.

May 23, 2010. Chris Carpenter is still using the flame-finished ash LS with the H&B 125th anniversary logo. That bat has to be at least nine months old... The Albert Pujols game-used spring training home jersey, auctioned by the Cardinals on the team's Web site, sold tonight for $1,970. I'm shocked at how low that price is. Wonder why? Molina sold for $580. Other available jerseys ranged from Franklin at $225 to Freese at $405.

May 25, 2010. If you're considering this McGwire bat, you need to read our Mac bat buyer's guide and compare the pine tar to the pattern on known gamers. Enough said... Here's a nice Ozzie Smith bat that's priced to sell. I repaired this one. It was in three pieces and kind of nasty when I got it, but now that it's fixed, it displays great... This old Cardinals uniform goes off tomorrow night. It's advertised as being from 1923-24, but I can tell you after doing extensive research on 1920s Cardinals jerseys recently that the style doesn't match anything from the '20s -- especially '23 and '24, when the team had uniform numbers on the left sleeve. Could be a variation from 1930, but even that is questionable.

May 26, 2010. I'm not sure what is worse -- cutting up legit game-used jerseys and bats and pasting the pieces to trading cards, or putting phony crap on cards and trying to pass it off as the real thing. If you watch eBay, then you probably seen a ton of these "1/1" uniform and bat cards put out by some outfit called National Sportscard Authenticators. The jersey cards clearly are no good because the pieces are cut from tackle twill retail jerseys. And who sewed on these patches, a 10 year old? I bet the wood pieces from "Pujols bats" aren't even maple. Most readers of this blog probably already steer clear of these awful excuses for collectibles, but if you've ever thought about bidding on one, please reconsider.

May 27, 2010. P. J. Walters not only received credit for his first MLB win today, but he also "graduated" to a lower uniform number. The #62 he wore five days ago was closeted in favor of #40. It's the first time that number has been worn since 2007 when Troy Percival was in St. Louis... Walters used a Marucci with a Gwynn finish.

May 28, 2010. Fernando Salas made his Major League debut today for the Cardinals wearing uniform #59. Those digits were last worn by Rico Washington in 2008... The uniform number database has been updated to include Salas and Walters' new numbers. If Adam Ottavino starts tomorrow as expected, we should see #35 taken out of mothballs.

May 29, 2010. Adam Ottavino did, indeed, take the mound for his MLB debut wearing #35. He used a natural Marucci at the plate... Evan MacLane also was called up from Memphis. The team's Web site says he's #62, but I didn't see him during the game. I'm most interested in how his name appears on his back -- is it all CAPS with a space like McGwire and McKay, or is the "AC" smaller like the first "C" in McClellan? And if it is smaller, is it set high like McClellan, or on the baseline like the "E" in DeRosa was last season and the "C" in McKay used to be?

May 30, 2010. Jon Jay used a black Old Hickory for one AB... Yadi looked like he was using a Pujols bat in the 9th inning... Evan MacLane was sent back to Memphis after the game and did not play this weekend. I still didn't see him on the field.

May 31, 2010. The team wore its 2010 Stars and Stripes cap today, and I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised by how nice it looked... Matt Holliday made the switch to the Cool Flo batting helmet today. He joins Molina as the only two wearing the vented lid... Allen Craig rejoined the team today. He used a Gwynn-finished Marucci during his pinch-hitting appearance.