Blog: Off season 2011-12

November 2, 2011. The National Baseball Hall of Fame has a slide show and video of the items it collected from the Cardinals after the World Series. You can view the slide show here and the video here. In addition to the items mentioned in my 10/28 entry, the HOF also secured caps worn by La Russa and Duncan... I maintain the most forged Pujols jersey is the 2002 road, and another has turned up on eBay. This one would fool most folks, but I challenge you to find one photo of Pujols from 2002 that shows excess material on the name plate before and after the letters.

November 14, 2011. Congratulations to new Cards manager Mike Matheny. If Pujols re-signs, it could mark the first time that one player used another guy's bats and then went on to become his manager (bet Elias doesn't track that). Recall back in 2004, a few of Pujols' M356 Louisville Sluggers surfaced showing obvious use by Matheny... This past weekend, Birdbats received nice plugs from two of my favorite Cardinals reporters, Derrick Goold (stltoday.com, 11/11) and Brian Walton (The Cardinal Nation Blog, 11/13)... I made a bulk sale of 45 bats last week, so if there was something in the for sale section you were considering and now it's gone, let me know and I'll connect you with the new owner... My good friend Rick Shaw passed away Friday evening. Rick was a Cardinals (and Yankees) fan and an avid collector who once had the most complete collection of HOF-signed baseballs of anyone I knew. Rest in peace, buddy.

December 8, 2011. Albert Pujols' signing with the Los Angeles Angels creates a situation that's fairly rare among memorabilia collectors, simply because there are few players of Pujols' stature and single-team tenure. And that is, what will happen to the value of Pujols game-used items? At this moment, there are 4-5 possibly legit GU bats on eBay. The one worth watching is a PSA 10 currently at $1,675 (with 5+ days to go). On 11/29, a PSA 7 bat sold for $3,550. In recent months, signed gamers have hovered in the $3,000-3,500 range, so the PSA 10 that's on now could be telling. Another sign could be this 2004 bat that sold on 12/6 -- when Pujols to Miami speculation was running hot -- for just $1,375... When players switch teams, memorabilia from their former teams generally fades in value. Fans of the prior team lose interest in guys who leave, and fans of the current team have little interest in items from another team. But, Pujols is not the typical player, he's a sure-fire HOFer who may end up on the Mount Rushmore of the greatest players ever. Barry Bonds leaving Pittsburgh for SF is a close comparison, but other issues surrounding Bonds have warped his market value. So, it will be very interesting to see what happens to Pujols memorabilia in the coming weeks and months. I anticipate a pretty significant drop in the short term because many Cardinals fans/collectors feel betrayed. Long term, though, I'm guessing his value will rebound somewhat as collectors regard him as a baseball legend, not just a Cardinals legend.

December 20, 2011. Autograph pricing for the 2012 Winter Warm Up has been released. An excellent analysis of pricing trends, prepared by fellow blogger Brian Walton, can be found here... Brian Hillerich of H&B says that his company will be forced to change the labeling on some of its branded and foil-stamped bats in 2012. Because of MLB rules that require bats be dipped 18" from the knob, and due to bat shapes and equipment limitations, some popular models -- including the I13 and C243 -- may no longer have the "Powerized" stamp that's been an H&B standard since 1931... The first PSA 10 Pujols bat to end at auction since Albert's defection to LA was hammered at $3,050, $500 less than a PSA 7 that ended two weeks prior. That's a stout amount for an active player who plans to play 10 more years, but also an indication that Pujols' values may have started trending downward.

February 17, 2012. OK, I know I've been gone a while. It was a good thing the season went a month longer than normal. A very good thing. But, I think I got burned out a bit and needed a break. Fine. Break over... Pitchers and catchers report this weekend! Saw this photo posted online today. Note the new guys -- Carlos Beltran will be wearing #3, Eugenio Velez was assigned #8 and J.C. Romero has #16... Also read today that Lance Lynn will wear #31, last worn by Ryan Franklin. Scott Linebrink will wear #40, donned by P.J. Walters last season... I need a 2011 Pujols game-used bat -- anybody have one for sale?

February 26, 2012. We have our first look at the sleeve patch the Cards will wear in 2012, courtesy of Post-Dispatch writer Derrick Goold's Twitter feed. Have to say I'm a bit disappointed. The design seems uninspired; it's far too similar to the patch worn by the San Francisco Giants last season. It strongly echoes the 2011 WS patch (including the green/orange autumn motif that created some visibility issues), and is nearly identical to the pin designs we saw immediately after the Series. The 2007 patch did a superior job of taking elements of the 2006 WS patch and creating something different, balanced and customized. This attempt just seems lazy. My other issue with the patch involves the red border around the STL logo. I don't like the way the red bleeds into the border of the plate; just looks sloppy. Compare it to my 60-second Photoshop version, which lets the navy border to stand on its own. Doesn't that look cleaner, sharper and simply more pleasing to the eye? Or, it is just me?... I'm working on adding a message board to this site before opening day, so when I ask rhetorical questions in the future, you can toss in your two cents. I'd like to know what categories you would want 0n a Birdbats message board. If you want to provide input, you know what to do.

February 27, 2012. If you're searching for a Mark Rzepczynski bat for your 2011 collection, you're out of luck. According to last Thursday's Post-Dispatch, "Rzepczynski has six black bats on the top shelf of his (spring training) locker. His last name is meticulously and correctly spelled out on the bat. 'I never had a bat with my name on it until this year,' he said, proudly." More disappointing than the nonexistance of a 2011 Rzepcyznski bat? The fact that clubhouse manager Rip Rowen passed on the opportunity to label them with his nickname, "Scrabble." There can never be enough nickname bats. Here's a photo of Mark bunting with a black ash Louisville Slugger.

February 29, 2012. Last October 13, I noted that Rafael Furcal used a decal on his bat knob, supplied by Pro Helmet Decals. Yesterday, I received an email from David Sulecki, PHD's owner, with photos of two types of decals he sent Furcal and Carlos Beltran this spring (Beltran used decals with both the Mets and Giants). One style is the same as last season, with the player's number rendered in team colors. The second style features the birds on bat, which is really sharp. Sulecki said Furcal texted him that Jon Jay and Daniel Descalso also wanted sheets of decals. This could be the beginning of a trend.

March 5, 2012. Press pins for the 2011 World Series have been tough to find. It seems production numbers were curbed substantially compared to the 2009 All Star Game and even the 2006 Series at Busch. However, I recently acquired a few extras. If you'd like one, contact me at birdbats@charter.net. Cost is $70 shipped in the lower 48.

March 8, 2012. One of the toughest things I do is tell people their prized possessions might not be what they think they are. It happened again this week with a 2000 Mark McGwire jersey. Casually glancing at the jersey, everything seemed to be in order, including provenance. But, then I noticed the numbers on the back were very close together. In 2000, digits on the back should be about 1.5" apart; on this Mac shirt, they were just 0.75" apart. That spacing is normal now, but it's far too narrow for 2000. That should serve as a reminder to collectors that it's not just styles and tagging that change through the years, but also elements we often take for granted, like the space between digits, the sharpness of the birds' beaks, or the shadowing of the bat's knob. If you're considering buying a jersey, it's in your best interest to sweat the details... I had a good response to the available 2011 press pins; only two remain. If you want one, don't wait too long.

March 9, 2012. This month's Hunt Internet/phone auction includes lots with several vintage Cardinals scorecards. Among them are two cards from 1932, the first season the team wore uniform numbers. The opening day scorecard was no help because uni numbers didn't appear until midseason. But, the card from 8/23/32 did provide a small bit of new information. It shows George Puccinelli wearing #24. I knew #24 had been worn by three other players in '32, and I had evidence of Puccinelli wearing #30, but this was the first time I saw proof of George wearing #24. The 8/23 scorecard didn't fill in any of the gaps that remain from the '32 season, but any new piece of information is worthwhile.

March 15, 2012. On Uni Watch today, the feature article is about Cardinals collector Tom Qualls, who made his own St. Louis Stars throwback jersey, similar to the ones worn by the team on July 23 in Pittsburgh. The team commissioned just one set of uniforms for that game instead of the two that are typical of TBTC contests. Because players were allowed to keep their uniforms, they obviously are difficult to find -- forcing fans like Tom to make their own. I took a slightly different tack, acquiring a Matt Holliday replica jersey (in his size 50) directly from the manufacturer of the team's uniforms, AIS. I've since decided I can live without it, so if you're interested in it, $160 delivered can make it yours. Jersey is sold, pending payment.

March 17, 2012. As has become tradition, the Cards (and their opponent, the Tigers) wore green jerseys for St. Patrick's Day. Photos are fairly sparse from the game, though I did find a few here, here and here. There's also video on the team's website.

March 18, 2012. This jersey showed up on eBay this evening. If you're thinking about bidding, consider that Gibson Alba wasn't in the Cardinals organization during the 1987 World Series; he was signed in December '87 as a rule 5 guy. Also, the jersey has '88 tagging, Alba played for the Cards in '88, and the WS patch is on the wrong sleeve. Still interested?... The Cards are auctioning several game-used caps and other items this week on its website, including a Rafael Furcal bat used in World Series game 5. Interesting that the stick is a carryover from his Dodgers days, with Dodgers under his name and a Dodgers decal (from Pro Helmet Decals) on the knob.

March 22, 2012. The Cardinals announced today the team will wear special jerseys and caps for its home opener on April 13 and its second game the following day, a game in which players will received their 2011 World Series rings. The jerseys will feature gold embroidery on the front; the word mark, bat and birds' beaks will be gold, as will the uniform number. Letters and numbers on the back also will be in gold, trimmed in navy. The STL logo on caps will be gold, as well, and the MLB logo on the back of the caps will have a gold border. For those folks who complained the gold-trimmed jerseys in 2007 were not different enough, you can't make that same argument this season. Can't decide whether I'm a fan of the execution or not, but I think I may have liked it more if the numbers had been red on the front and maybe the back. Just seems to add balance, especially on the front.

March 23, 2012. David Sulecki, owner of Pro Helmet Decals, was kind enough to send me samples of the different styles of bat knob decals he's created for the Cardinals this season. The two at the top, featuring large numbers on red and navy backgrounds, were used by Rafael Furcal last season. The bottom three designs, incorporating the birds on bat logo, are new for 2012. Furcal already has been spotted using one of the white-background decals this spring. In addition to Furcal, Beltran, Descalso and Jay, David says Holliday has asked for decals, too. That makes 25 percent of the opening day roster. Speaking of opening day, I wonder how decals with gold backgrounds or gold numbers would look with the gold-accented jerseys...

March 29, 2012. Today, Birdbats is launching its own forum to give readers an opportunity to share and seek information about Cardinals memorabilia. To get there, just click the blue button above, register and start posting. I hope this turns into a constructive exercise that educates us all about bats, jerseys and other topics of interest. I also hope it helps collectors connect with one another so they can buy, sell, trade and exhibit their items. I know how online boards can get ugly; I trust that won't happen here. There are no written rules of conduct. Just act like grown ups and have fun. BTW, the blue button won't work on every page because it would take me forever to change the existing links on every page. If you want to get to the forum, access it from the home page and you'll be fine.

April 2, 2012. Pro Helmet Decals has whipped up some gold-themed bat knob decals for opening day, though it had nothing to do with my suggestion on 3/23. Just a simple matter of great minds thinking alike. David Sulecki, PHD owner, says Mike Matheny has requested decals for his bats... The cover of yesterday's baseball preview section in the Post-Dispatch shows Matheny posing with a Rawlings bat (his model). What caught my eye was the centerbrand, which is simply an "R" inside an oval. That's a change from last season... Hillerich & Bradsby made a special bat for the Rally Squirrel, complete with bark. I have a hunch they could sell a few of those if they made them available to the public.