Blog: March/April 2014

March 31, 2014. That's a winner on opening day! There was one number change -- Carlos Martinez has swapped his #62 for #44... Except for the new guys, there is nothing new in terms of bat use. Marucci was swung by Adams (Nnywg), Carpenter (Gwynn), Molina (Nnywg with a cherry handle), Peralta (black) and Robinson (natural). Holliday used his charcoal Old Hickory, while Craig used his standard Gwynn-finished Rawlings. Wong wielded a dark brown Chandler. Newcomer Bourjos swung a black LS while Wainwright used a natural LS with flame-burned finish... The team wore navy caps since they were playing in Cincinnati. Look for the red caps to surface in Pittsburgh.

April 2, 2014. Bourjos changed to a black Marucci bat... Wacha swung a black bat, but I couldn't determine the manufacturer... Adams used a Nnwyg-finished Rawlings bat... Robinson made his first plate appearance swinging a natural Marucci.

April 3, 2014. Jay debuted using a natural Marucci bat... Descalso also used Marucci, a black one... Adams went back to his Marucci bat, with spectacular results... Lynn swung a black LS.

April 4, 2014. The red caps and batting helmets made their road debut tonight in Pittsburgh... Descalso used Marucci again, but this bat was Nnwyg-finished... Cruz use the same model for his first AB... Kozma used his typical black Sam Bat... Miller's bat was a natural LS with a flame finish... After Kelly throws his first pitch tomorrow, everyone on the 25-man roster will have made an official appearance in 2014... I'm keeping track of bat usage here. The standing link to that page -- as well as bat use in past seasons -- can be found by clicking the Notes and Articles tab.

April 5, 2014. Kelly swung a flame-finished LS, while Bourjos switched back to his LS... On Monday at 10 a.m., the Cardinals will host an invitation-only ceremony to formally dedicate the new Cardinals Hall of Fame presented by Edward Jones and the team’s new Cardinals Museum within Cardinals Nation at Ballpark Village. While the ceremony is not open to the general public due to a lack of space, the team will live-stream the ceremony on and broadcast the ceremony on the 40 ft. television in FOX Sports Midwest Live! in Ballpark Village. Hope you're able to watch.

April 6, 2014. The Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum opens tomorrow. Here's a sneak peek.

April 7, 2014. Today was opening day at Busch and the grand opening of the new Hall of Fame and Museum. I haven't had many baseball-related thrills that can compare to touring the museum with Gibby, Lou, Red, Ozzie, Whitey and Tony wearing their red blazers. It was quite a day. Here is a video recap of the museum's dedication ceremony; a certain blogger gets a shout out at the 2:07 mark... Wacha was swinging a natural Old Hickory bat today.

April 8, 2014. Players received their 2013 National League championship rings prior to today's game. The front features the interlocking STL logo in rubies, similar to the 2006 rings. On the left side is a depiction of the N.L. championship (Giles) trophy with the team's 97 wins and 19th N.L. pennant noted. The right side has each player's name with an embossed version of his Saturday alternate jersey. There's also a nod to Stan the Man inside; the patch worn by the team in 2013 is etched inside the ring. Overall, it's a conservative design, which is welcome in a sports world that tilts toward gaudy and even tacky.

April 11, 2014. Rosenthal had his first plate appearance of the season, a move that baffled many fans who wondered why the closer was batting with the winning run in scoring position in the bottom of the tenth inning. It's not my place to question strategy; I'll simply report he swung a Nnwyg-finished Marucci that appeared to have his name on the barrel.

April 13, 2014. Wacha made his third start and used his third different bat. This one was a natural Marucci, and based on the initials on the knob, I wonder if it was made for Shelby Miller, Seth Maness, Scott McGregor or Scott Moore. I tend to rule out Miller and Maness because their bats likely would have uniform numbers stamped into the knobs. McGregor and Moore, on the other hand, likely would have initials because they play at Memphis.

April 14, 2014. Peralta switched to a Nnwyg-finished Axis bat tonight and promptly homered on the first pitch he saw... I'm not sure what to call this, but it's definitely not an Ozzie Smith game-used BP jersey... If you're considering this Lance Berkman bat, remember that he used maple (M9) bats for BP and ash bats during games. That explains the heavy use... Tomorrow is Jackie Robinson day, so expect to see everyone wearing #42 with no names on the back.

April 15, 2014. Mark Ellis made his Cardinals debut wearing Jackie Robinson's #42. We'll have to wait at least another day to see Carlos Beltran's former #3 return to the field... Ellis swung a natural Rawlings bat... The uniform number database is updated to reflect everyone who played in tonight's game.

April 16, 2014. Voting for the two newest members of the Cardinals Hall of Fame ends on 4/22. At last check, Willie McGee and Jim Edmonds were leading the pack. I can't argue against either player; both are deserving of their own plaques. But, Ted Simmons is the only player on the ballot that actually deserves to be enshrined in Cooperstown -- let alone Ballpark Village. Just a few days are remaining, so get online and vote for Simba!... I didn't catch it, but have been told Adams swung an Axis bat during one plate appearance today.

April 17, 2014. With Kelly on the DL and Butler sent to Memphis, the Cards called up Eric Fornataro and Jorge Rondon. Fornataro is wearing #67, Rondon #68... Adams has switched lumber again, opting for a Nnwyg-finished Chandler bat... Wong was wearing REAL stirrups with gray sanitary socks.

April 20, 2014. I noticed both Adams and Peralta were using Axis bats today.

April 21, 2014. Tyler Lyons made his 2014 debut wearing the same #70 he was issued last season. He swung a natural Marucci, and based on the knob, I'm pretty sure it's the exact same bat Wacha was using on 4/13... Fornataro made his MLB debut tonight... Ellis apparently has his last name laser etched on the knob of his Rawlings bat... It appears the handle on Yadi's bat is actually black, not cherry... I believe collectors should not have blind faith in the opinions of players when it comes to their memorabilia. Case in point: This John Tudor jersey, which supposedly comes with Tudor's provenance (player documented) that he wore it during the 1985 World Series. It's clearly a 1990 home jersey with the Gussie Busch (AAB) memorial patch on the sleeve. This '85 World Series bat also is sketchy because the knob stamping is consistent with retail bats of the era, but not with actual WS bats (which had only model numbers stamped into the knob in 1985). I was approached a couple years ago by a guy who had three Tudor bats and WS bats were included. I recall at the time something wasn't right with them. I suspect Tudor ordered extra commemorative bats after the Series, and the extras were not stamped like the bats issued for game use.

April 23, 2014. I have to admit, when some players get married to a particular bat, I have a tendency to pay less attention to their plate appearances. Case in point: Allen Craig, who used a Gwynn-finished Rawlings bat exclusively in 2012 and 2013. But tonight, I noticed he was using a Gwynn-finished Chandler bat -- which he broke. Then he used a natural Chandler bat. I'm not sure if tonight was his first game with that brand, or whether I just now noticed (since Rawlings no longer has a silver band, they're not as distinct as they used to be). Whatever the case, it's noteworthy when a guy who used the same bat for two-plus seasons switches brands. Even the Cardinals broadcasters noticed.

April 24, 2014. If you're considering bidding on this Pujols "World Series" bat in the Goldin Auction that ends tomorrow, you might want to chew on the facts one more time before bumping the current $7,139 bid. The bat is authenticated by MLB as FJ 766014 and the description says, "PLAYER INDICATES BAT WAS USED FOR GAME # 2, 2011 WORLD SERIES." However, as the item description and PSA letter correctly note, Pujols didn't use a bat with this finish until Game 3 of the Series. That's a major red flag. The LOA says the bat was "incorrectly authenticated," but a quick survey of the MLB hologram database shows numbers FJ 766001 to 766044 were all authenticated on October 20, 2011 in St. Louis, the date of Game 2. Based on that alone, it's difficult to believe the authentication date of FJ 766014 is in error; this bat almost certainly was authenticated on 10/20 in St. Louis. It's also important to note that numbers FJ 766013 to 766016 are all Pujols bats alleged to have been used in Game 2. Pujols batted four times in that game, and each bat (assuming he changed at all) had a Gwynn finish. I'm not sure why MLB authenticated this bat as a Game 2 used bat based on Albert's word vs. the authenticator himself witnessing its use. That practice seems to fall outside MLB's authentication guidelines. Whatever the case, if this bat was taken out of circulation on 10/20, it could not have been used in Game 3 at Texas or in any other World Series game. It could be an NLCS bat since Albert used this finish in 10 of his 27 NLCS plate appearances; I'd be trying to photo match it to those games (10/10, 10/13 and 10/14). Ken Goldin and I have traded emails about this and I'm hoping to hear more from him tomorrow. But, unless he has information I don't, an admission from MLB that numbers FJ 766001 to 766044 were all dated in error, or proof that Pujols used an already-authenticated and hologrammed bat after Game 2, I cannot accept that his bat was used by Pujols in a World Series game.

April 25, 2014. I spoke with Ken Goldin today about the Pujols "World Series" bat that ends tonight. He edited the item description a bit, but it still says Pujols used the bat in the World Series. Ken is sticking with this premise because he believes all four Pujols bats authenticated as Game 2 bats (FJ 766013-16) were dated/entered into MLB's system incorrectly. He also is putting heavy stock into the consigner's story that he received the bats directly from Albert and that Albert presented them as World Series-used bats. Goldin auctioned a similar bat in October 2013. I wouldn't be surprised if the other two authenticated bats are on deck. There is just so much that's wrong with this situation. You have the player telling the authenticator he used the bats during a specific game in which he clearly didn't use them. You have authenticators putting holograms on bats based on a player's word, not because they visually witnessed their use. You have an authenticator grading them 10 when there clearly are questions. You have a consigner, who has a vested interest in these bats, marketing them based on what a player told him. You have an auction house that is taking a consigner's word over the MLB database. And you have bidders paying premium prices for bats that are supposed to be World Series gamers, but likely are not -- at least if you choose facts over hearsay. For the record, I watched Albert's four ABs in Game 2 and am fairly certain he used the same Gwynn-finished bat each time... Shelby Miller used a black Tucci Lumber bat and a flame-finished LS.

April 26, 2014. We finally have an answer to whom the initials "SM" reference on the knob of the bat being used by Lyons (and previously used by Wacha). A clear shot of the barrel today showed it is a Seth Maness bat... Mark Ellis used a black Chandler bat with very heavy pine tar... Pleased to report no further bids were placed on the Pujols "World Series" bat in the Goldin Auction.

April 28, 2014. Both Randal Grichuk and Greg Garcia made their MLB debuts tonight. Grichuk wore #15 and swung a black Max Bat -- and contrary to what the broadcasters and others were saying, he's not the first guy to wear #15 since Jim Edmonds. Has everyone already forgotten Matt Holliday, Jon Jay and Rafael Furcal also wore #15, along with coach Hal McRae?... Garcia wore #12 and used a black Louisville Slugger with white handle tape... Jay used a Marucci with the Nnywg finish.

April 29, 2014. The Cardinals Authentics store received a few new bats, but they sold quickly at prices that are somewhat higher than last season. Yadi's lumber jumped from $400 to $750. Carpenter's price jumped $100 while Adams' price increased $50. Peralta's bats are marked $200. Prices for other available players are unchanged from 2013... Jay switched bats again, this time using a Marucci with a Gwynn finish... Ellis is using a new Chandler bat with a black barrel and cherry handle (which even though it's not a true Walker finish, I'll call it a Walker for tracking purposes). I have to wonder if the bat he used the past few games was truly black, or whether it also had a cherry handle that was covered in so much tar that I couldn't tell.

April 30, 2014. The 2014 Cardinals Hall of Fame class was announced today. To nobody's surprise, Willie McGee easily won the fan voting, followed by Jim Edmonds. The "veteran's committee," which met earlier this year, selected Marty Marion. And Cardinals ownership chose to honor former player and long-time broadcaster Mike Shannon. Congrats to the four new HOFers. Now, let's hope Ted Simmons, Bob Forsch, Curt Flood and George Kissell get their due in 2015.