The Sam Bat was approved by Major League Baseball before last season. Holman has made about 3,000 bats this year. (Hillerich & Bradsby, makers of the Louisville Slugger, will churn out more than 1.4 million.) Batters have complained that the barrel of the Sam is too thin, that two bats of the same model are often too dissimilar and that the wait is too long between order and delivery (up to eight weeks, compared with three to four for a Slugger).
Yet Clayton, who began using the Sam in games five weeks ago, offers the ultimate endorsement. Though he bought a dozen of the bats, so far he has used only one, in games and during batting practice. He also shares it during BP with teammates Tom Goodwin, Rusty Greer and Mark McLemore. "Hasn't broken," Clayton says. "The Sam, it's my baby. It's my sweet potato pie."
The Clemens-Wells Trade
Call It a Wash(out)
Roger Clemens for David Wells (and a couple of friends): It was the trade of the year. Yet with the season drawing to a close, it's safe to say that neither pitcher has lived up to expectations. With Clemens, the Yankees are not where they wanted to be, steaming toward the World Series as a clear-cut favorite. With Wells, the Blue Jays have fallen from the American League wild-card race.
In February, when Toronto general manager Gord Ash called Brian Cashman, his New York counterpart, with his offer of Clemens for Wells, second baseman Homer Bush and lefthanded reliever Graeme Lloyd, Cashman says, "[it] made my knees buckle." Presumably, the reaction was to the image of a playoff rotation featuring the Rocket followed by David Cone, Orlando Hernandez and Andy Pettitte. As the Yankees closed in on the East Division title, however, what they had was an erratic Clemens, one whose 13-9 record through Sunday belied a 4.57 ERA and just 148 strikeouts. The five-time Cy Young winner still throws hard, but his command has been shaky, his confidence fleeting. Since winning his first five decisions, he hasn't won three in a row.
All this would spell embarrassment for the Yankees had Wells, who was 18-4, including a perfect game, for New York in 1998, not performed even worse. His record (14-10) also was deceptive given his 4.98 ERA and bafflingly limited success against lefthanded hitters, who had batted .294 against him.
So which team got the best of the deal? Well, Bush has gone from obscure utility infielder to one of the American League's biggest surprises this season, batting .311 with 52 RBIs through Sunday and playing a smooth second base. Lloyd, meanwhile, was 5-3 with a 3.51 ERA as the primary lefthander out of the Toronto pen.
Over the long haul, perhaps the answer will be Toronto.