Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Jennry Mejia, Duaner Sanchez and losing a setup man just before the trade deadline

On July 30, 2006, almost exactly nine years ago, the Mets lost valuable setup reliever Duaner Sanchez when he separated his shoulder in a taxi accident. With just a day to go before the trade deadline, the Mets scrambled to find a replacement, trading starting rightfielder Xavier Nady for reliever Roberto Hernandez and a struggling starting pitcher named Oliver Perez.

At least this time around, Sandy Alderson already had a replacement lined up when Jennry Mejia was suspended again for PEDs. I wasn't sure why Alderson was worrying about the bullpen with the lineup in such disarray, but perhaps he knew the Mejia suspension was coming. The Tyler Clippard trade looks that much better now.

Hernandez, 41 years old at the time of the trade, had a 3.48 ERA in 22 games with the 2006 Mets. The real replacement for Sanchez turned out to be Guillermo Mota, who was acquired in late August and had an ERA of 1.00 in 18 games down the stretch.

After the 2006 season, Mota was suspended for steroids, but the Mets still gave him a new two-year contract. Mota never approached his 2006 form and was traded away the following season.

Somehow, I don't think Mejia will be getting a new contract from the Mets. But Mejia does have something in common with Mota. In 2012, Mota, now with the Giants, was suspended for steroids a second time.

Thoughts on A-Rod turning 40, Teix's hissy fit, the Tulo-Reyes trade, and Shane Victorino, the Cryin' Hawaiian

I was excited to see Alex Rodriguez homer on his 40th birthday last night (his sixth on his B-Day, which sets an MLB record), but I went to bed early. So I missed the Mark Teixeira shenanigans. After he was thrown out at home plate by Leonys Martin, who robbed him of a homer earlier in the game, Teix threw the mother of all hissy fits, tossing around a trash can in the dugout. Turns out that Yankee third-base coach Joe Espada told Teixeira "easy" when rounding third, and it cost him the chance to score. And Mark openly criticized the coach to the media after the game.


Then I woke up this morning to see that the New York Daily News actually had a positive back page about A-Rod! I can't remember the last time that has happened, or if it has ever happened. Oddly enough, though, Bill Madden hasn't written about Alex lately. (Remember, Madden said Alex was "finished" as a player and would never play again. Hardball Talk lists the most egregious Madden pronouncements on Rodriguez.)

The New York Post, on the other hand, had a negative cover of Rodriguez, regarding him telling reporters yesterday that he was "clean." Pretty nifty Photoshop, though. Glad they made sure the "Mr. Clean" A-Rod had an earring!

But the News' back page wasn't the most shocking thing in the baseball world I saw this morning. No, the Troy Tulowitzki-Jose Reyes trade takes the trade for that. Toronto, along with Baltimore, is seven games behind the Yankees. But they are clearly going for it this season -- they haven't made the postseason since 1993, as Joel Sherman notes.

I think the Yankees have to be considered to be in the catbird seat for the postseason. But they still need another starting pitcher. Will it be Cole Hamels? Or David Price? Or somebody else?

And what about the Mets? They traded for ex-Yankee Tyler (The Yankee) Clippard last week. But they need a big hitter. Will it happen?

The trading deadline is this Friday at 4 p.m., just around the time I have to phone in to find out if I am going to be in jury duty next week! So that should be a momentous afternoon in a variety of ways. (Squawker Jon said this comment is very solipsistic, even for me!)

In other trading deadline news, Shane Victorino, aka the Flyin' Hawaiian, got traded from the Red Sox to the Angels. Victorino cried -- repeatedly -- in the presser announcing the deal. Dude, you should be happy to get out of Boston! The Angels actually have a playoff-worthy team!

Squawker Jon and I were talking about the trade, and I mentioned that Victorino is retiring the use of Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds" as his at-bat music. That song became a rallying cry for Red Sox Nation in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing and subsequent World Series championship.

Jon knew the song but didn't know the title, so I had to mention the lyrics about "every little thing gonna be alright." His excuse was that he wasn't a Deadhead. Huh? What do the Grateful Dead have in common with Bob Marley? Oh, wait!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Maybe Sandy Alderson is a baseball revolutionary after all

Take the worst-hitting team in the league, add two fringe players and a prospect generally considered to be not ready, and in their first game together the Mets score 15 runs. Pretty good initial return to baseball activities from Sandy Alderson!

I was away all weekend and did not get to see any of Saturday's or Sunday's games. These days, you can keep checking the score on your phone, but I couldn't help but think of what my reaction would have been had I found out about the Mets' unbelievable outburst the old-fashioned way. In the early days of the Mets, they scored 19 runs in a game and the story went that when one fan was told this, his response was, "Did they win?" If I had asked someone Saturday night how the Mets did and had been told that they scored 15 runs, my response would have been, "I mean today, not for the week."

And if Squawker Lisa had called with such an update, I would have told her, yeah, right, next you'll be telling me that A-Rod homered three times today.

And, in the days before box scores in your pocket, if someone had told me that not only did the Mets score 15 runs, but the starting pitcher for the Dodgers was a guy named Zach, I really would have thought I was hallucinating, Of course, it was Zach Lee pitching Saturday, not Zack Greinke. Lee was making major league debut, but considering that the Mets were already no-hit by an unheralded rookie this year (Chris Heston), it's still impressive.

I wonder if the Dodgers figured they would ease Lee into the majors by letting him pitch against the hapless Mets offense. Now his next start is scheduled against Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and the Angels. Good luck!

The Mets offense returned to Earth against Greinke Sunday, though they did end his shutout streak at 45 2/3 innings (on an RBI by Jacob deGrom, naturally.)And we went back to the typical story with sensational pitching by Met starters: "How many runs did deGrom give up today? Zero. Did he win? Of course not."

But the Mets did win, even after Jeurys Familia blew the lead in the ninth. It was a great weekend, and I'm sorry I missed it. When was the last time I could say that?

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Shocker! It's an A-Bomb, and another A-Bomb, and another A-Bomb from A-Rod!

A-Rod smirks after his first homer last night.
I was home last night working on a writing project, but I didn't get all that much done. That is because the Yankee game, which looked like a blowout loss for much of it, turned out to be arguably the best win of the year.

Although CC Sabathia had another step back, putting the Yanks in a 5-0 hole, Alex Rodriguez carried the Yankees on his back by hitting three homers, the last one to tie the game in the ninth. Then John Ryan Murphy improbably hit the game-winning homer.

This was my reaction at home while watching all of this unfold:

And none of the three homers Alex hit were cheap home runs; the first one even went into the third deck of Target Field.

Squawker Jon had just finished crowing to me about what a great game the Mets were having last night, with Matt Harvey pitching well, Michael Conforto going 4 for 4, and the Mets having the most runs and hits they had had this season, beating the Dodgers 15-2. And then it looked like A-Rod's third homer -- and the Yankee win -- would steal the back page from the Mets. Snicker.

However, Jon got the last laugh. the New York Daily News treated the Mets' game as bigger than the Yankees' win, featuring the Mets on the front and back pages, while the Yankees' win was only mentioned at the top of the back page. The New York Post also kept the Mets on the back page, although they did put A-Rod on the front page. Oh, and both tabloids used the phrase "Trey-Rod"!

Now to the elephant in the room. Is Alex juicing again? I don't think he is, but I can't say for sure. And I think it is understandable for people to speculate -- that's part of the price you pay for getting caught twice doing performance-enhancing drugs.

What I do know is that this is so much fun to watch. Can you imagine if A-Rod can somehow lead the Yankees to No. 28? Wouldn't that be amazing?

ESPN New York's Andrew Marchand had a very good piece last night on Rodriguez's resurgence. He also touched the third rail of Yankee coverage, actually criticizing Derek Jeter. Check this out (emphasis added):

One truth that can't be denied is that A-Rod is a leader on the club. He is different than his all-time frenemy Derek Jeter. Rodriguez is vocal. He goes out of his way to be involved. He is very willing to laugh at himself.

"He's a teacher," Girardi said. "He brings people together because he teaches, but he also likes to have fun. I have said a lot of times, people around him are laughing a lot. It is important during a long season."
It amuses me to no end to see that, after the past decade of building up Derek Jeter as this awesome captain and great clubhouse leader, to see somebody in the media write something negative about Jeter like this. And to praise Rodriguez as a leader, too. 

We fans have been fed the myth of A-Rod=Bad, Jeter=Good. But the truth is more complicated than that binary look at things. And now that Jeter is retired, we are finally getting a more realistic look at him -- and a less one-sided negative view of Rodriguez.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Mets get player most similar to Ben Zobrist

Sandy Alderson has resumed baseball activities! Three good moves in one day: Acquiring Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson for fringe prospects, promoting Michael Conforto and designating John Mayberry Jr. That won't win the pennant, but things certainly look more hopeful than a day ago.

I haven't understood the obsession the hitting-starved Mets seem to have with Ben Zobrist, whose days of flirting with 20-20 seasons are well in the past.  This season, Zobrist has just 6 HR, 33 RBI and a .254 BA in 233 at bats.  This season, Johnson is actually doing better: 9 HR, 34 RBI and a ,275  BA in 182 at bats.

And for what it's worth, according to Baseball Reference, the player most statistically similar to Johnson over his career is... Ben Zobrist!

And all the Mets had to give up for two professional hitters were low-level prospects John Gant and Rob Whelan. (My first response was going to be "Who is John Gant?" but I didn't want people to think I was trying to quote Ayn Rand.)

The most frustrating thing about Alderson's dithering over promoting Conforto was that it appeared to hinge on whether Michael Cuddyer would need to go on the DL. Cuddyer has not exactly been irreplaceable, with 8 HR, 30 RBI and a .250 BA in 292 at bats. Not only is Johnson doing better this year, but so is Uribe: 8 HR, 23 RBI and a .272 BA in 232 at bats.

But Cuddyer was Alderson's big signing last winter, and Mayberry was his other main addition to the Mets' hitting. These moves have proven to be just as bad as they looked at the time, but Alderson's reluctance to DL Cuddyer and designate Mayberry made it seem as if he were still trying to justify having these players on the team. Finally, Mayberry is gone, and Cuddyer can get the rest that he's needed and perhaps make a more substantial contribution down the road.

Conforto may not be ready, but the Mets need to do whatever they can to help this offense.

I remain skeptical that the Mets will make a move for a top hitter, not only because of their unwillingness to spend (the Mets did take on $3.15M in salary in yesterday's trade, but even that amount required the Braves to include some cash, according to ESPN) but because it also doesn't make much sense to give up too much for a rental of some of the names being mentioned. Justin Upton, for example, hit .196 in June and is hitting just .111 in July. And it's not because he plays in San Diego - he has a home BA this year of .291. Upton is currently battling an oblique issue. If you're going to ship out major prospects, you need to do better.

Ultimately, the Mets must realistically assess their chances. They are now 3 1/2 games out of the second wild card spot. They are also 3 1/2 games ahead of the Atlanta Braves, who have conceded their season with the salary dump of Uribe and Johnson. 

Friday, July 24, 2015

The New York Times' Harvey Araton sez Barry Bonds should be in the Hall of Fame. I agree.

Like many baseball fans, I have had a number of thoughts and emotions over the years on what MLB should do/should have done about performance enhancing drugs. It is bizarre to me the way this has all shaken out. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, who are HOFers even if you cut out their steroid years, are left out of the Hall. Meanwhile, Joe Torre, Tony LaRussa, and Bobby Cox, who won championships based on PED users, are in the Hall.

Oh, and Matt Williams is an MLB manager, Mark McGwire is a trusted hitting coach, and Nelson Cruz and Ryan Braun make it to the All-Star Game, and Jason Giambi was a beloved elder statesman of the game. Andy Pettitte is getting a monument plaque in Monument Park and a retired number. All admitted PED users. There is little or no consistency.

Not to mention that the players who use PEDs assume all the risks and the punishments, while the ownership that profited and still profits off their use just gets to cash the checks.

Anyhow, the New York Times' Harvey Araton has a terrific column that touches on this issue. Now that the feds have finally dropped their last remaining charge against Barry Bonds, after the obstruction of justice count was overturned on appeal, Araton argues that Bonds deserves to be in the Hall.

The whole thing is worth a read, but here are some of the most relevant points (emphasis added):

It has long been argued that Bonds had pretty much earned a spot in the Hall as Skinny Barry, with a decade’s worth of greatness before the 1998 preponderance of steroid benefits produced by McGwire and Sammy Sosa seemingly, and rather infamously went to Bonds’s head. What came after was surely a distortion of his previously immaculate stats. But in the context of continued revelations about baseball’s culture — foremost among them the Mitchell Report, which fingered Roger Clemens and shattered all notions of steroids as primarily a slugger’s scourge — the achievements of the bloated Bonds can no longer be permanently and completely discredited, viewed in a vacuum.
And this:
Baseball’s original sin wasn’t that it had — and certainly still has — athletes surreptitiously seeking an edge. It was management’s willful neglect of the problem for the sake of profits along with an obstructionist union wrongfully working to shield the guilty at the expense of the innocent.
As I always say, do you think Brian Cashman didn't know that A-Rod was juicing before they re-signed him? Heck, he could have known before trading for him in the first place!

Speaking of Rodriguez, Araton cites him as a positive example of somebody who has been accepted again into the game:

For many, it would no doubt be painful to hear an induction speech from Bonds, Clemens and the like. But wasn’t the notion of A-Rod again circling the bases after all that went down equally distasteful just months ago? Now what you hear is that he’s a great teammate, who served his time, paid his dues. So, in many ways, has Bonds, albeit with a smirk or a sneer. But how he has acted is not the point in the grand scheme. He deserves to be in the Hall, and baseball deserves to have him there, to deal more realistically, or honestly, with the industry’s original sin.

Ultimately, to me, it comes down to a number of things when it comes to putting PED users in the Hall:

  • Bonds et al had to compete against pitchers who were juicing (and we will probably never know the full extent of that!) And Clemens had to compete against hitters who were juicing. And they were still superstars.
  • PEDs themselves don't make you a great player, or Jeremy Giambi and Randy Velarde would have been big names.
  • Bonds, Clemens, Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, etc. were the best players in the game in their era. How can you represent their generation in the Hall if they have been left out? 
  • Jose Canseco has said there is at least one PED user already in the Hall. When that ever comes out, what will be the justification for keeping the rest out?
  • What about players (cough, David Ortiz) who get a pass for PED use? Should they go in because writers like them, and they were never punished for such use?
It is a complicated subject, to be sure. But it seems to me that Bonds (and Clemens) need to be in the Hall of Fame. It's time for some consistency on this issue. If Torre, Cox, and LaRussa can be in, then so can Bonds and Clemens.

One other note on Bonds: for a guy who is supposed to be such a jerk, Greg Anderson, his trainer and childhood friend, literally went to jail -- twice! -- so as not to testify against him. Think about that for a second. I don't care how much money one could be given for doing so (some have suspected Bonds paid him off). Nothing is worth sacrificing your freedom that way. It says something about Bonds that Anderson did so for him.

If you think A-Rod's stop, drop, and roll slide was graceless, wait until you hear about my own shenanigans!

He's safe!
I was at work yesterday afternoon when the Yankees-Orioles game was going on, so I missed seeing the final game in the Yanks' sweep. But I saw my Twitter feed blow up afterwards with talk of Alex Rodriguez's crazy successful slide to home plate in the first inning.

Instead of a traditional slide, Rodriguez did a stop, drop, and roll maneuver, with somersaults and barrel rolls and everything!

It took a while for somebody to post video of this crazy slide that only A-Rod could pull off, but it was even more glorious than I expected. Here is a GIF showing what happened. And yes, he was safe!

Speaking of crazy moves, I ended up taking not one but two dance classes yesterday, both of them way outside my comfort zone. But isn't that where the magic happens, as the saying goes? (I can picture Squawker Jon rolling his eyes at what he would call the "navel gazing" nature of this, but oh well!)

A little background: although I love music, I haven't really danced in many years, and I was never very good in the first place. Back in the day, in addition to my punk slamdancing, I used to actually go out to nightclubs and stuff and dance. You know, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth! Put it this way -- the last time I really went to the club and danced, people were doing the "Macarena." And not ironically.

So in my fitness/weight loss journey, I have been making a point as of late to get back into the modern world and take some dance-related classes at the gym, even though, as I said, they are way outside my comfort zone. I am far from a natural at it, that's for sure!

I have done Zumba a number of times (and I will do so again this weekend.) All the many moves confuse me, and my enjoyment of the class is directly related to what music they play, but I have at least been trying to get better at it!

I have also done Urban Rebounding, which features a few dance-type moves, like the Tick Tock, on a personal trampoline. That is probably my favorite of the dance-related stuff I've been doing, because of the feeling of defying gravity while doing so.

Last week, I took a PonDeFLO class. I didn't really care for that, because we had to do floor work (burpees and mountain climbers) in the middle of the class! Wait, what? I wanted to dance to Caribbean-style music, not be doing Spartan Race stuff in the middle of it! So I wasn't as impressed by that.

Anyhow, yesterday I took two dance classes at my gym, the New York Health and Racquet Club. Both of the classes were not what you would normally expect me to do.

The first was a Belly Dancing Abs class! The description says it is "a 30-minute belly dance inspired workout that targets your core muscles." And that was basically it, with Middle Eastern belly dance type-music in the background. We did a lot of hip (as in body part hip, not "cool" hip) movements around the room. I also found myself really enjoying it, to my surprise! The moves were challenging for me, but not impossible. Stephanie, the instructor, was fun and a good teacher. And yes, it was a real workout. I am sore today from it!

Then I took a Masala Bhangra class taught by the same instructor. The description for this is that the class is "a blend of traditional Bhangra dance steps and Bollywood moves" What a trip! I felt like I was in a Bollywood movie! We learned various dance moves and performed them to high-energy Indian music.Again, the moves were challenging for me, but not impossible. And man, was it fun! We did a whole routine of going around the room doing these various moves, and I can't believe how much I enjoyed it!

I will definitely be back at the Masala Bhangra class, as well as the Belly Dancing Abs class. Who knows? Maybe I will actually show some sense of rhythm on the dance floor one day!

I have joked for years with Jon that we need "Subway Squawkers: The Musical." So now I have at least one scene mapped out: we do a group dance Masala Bhangra style!  Jon said we could call the number "Slumdog Squawker!"

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Women's Running put a heavy woman on their cover. Why doesn't that impress me?

I've seen a lot of talk on social media and the blogosphere over the past week about the August cover of Women's Running. Instead of the usual cover with a woman with a typical runner's body, the latest cover features an overweight woman runner. A lot of people thought that the cover showed big progress. I myself was at first excited by the picture, but then I read about the model and felt very mixed emotions, including feeling more than a little cheated by the whole thing. Let me explain.

First of all, the article on their website describing Erica Schenk, the "cover runner," as they call her, does not list her age, but says she has been running for 10 years. Really? That depressed the heck out of me. I've been busting my butt to get in shape for roughly the past two years, and have lost 45 pounds so far. But I still have a ways to go, and I would hate to think that eight years from now, I still wouldn't be thin again!

Schenk is in the magazine promoting, as they call it, "new running gear for women with curvy frames," and she talks about how while "some women believe that since they have curves they can’t run or shouldn’t run," that running is for every body anytime." I may be in the minority on this, but I really hate the word "curvy" being used to describe what Schenk is, and what I am, which is fat. Curvy is a ridiculous euphemism. After all, I was curvy when I was thin, as many women are. If you want to say overweight or big or plus-size, that's fine. But enough with the "curvy" sugarcoating. There are plenty of thin and curvy runners out there, but they aren't the ones who have had issues buying running gear. It's the fat folks like myself who have!

Then I saw some articles elsewhere about the "cover runner." Turns out, according to People magazine, this woman, who has been running for 10 years, is 18 years old and is a plus-size model. Not exactly your typical overweight runner. Funny how Women's Running never mentioned either of those very relevant facts in their gushy story about her. (And frankly, I thought she was at least 10 years older. Would never have guessed from the cover that she was 18.)

Eonline also did a story on Schenk, in which it says she runs once a week. So this is role model for the rest of us? Somebody who runs just once a week? Then I looked up Schenk on Athlinks, a website that tracks race results throughout the United States. There isn't a single record of her doing any races. Hmmmm. Again, I am supposed to be inspired by this runner? Isn't there anybody else in the United States that Women's Running could have found to put on their cover? Like a heavy runner who actually is out there in the trenches running regularly?

In that Eonline article, Schenk says: "Many companies are making money off women's insecurities," she said. "With diets, workouts, pills, surgeries, and everything else we forget to love ourselves and our so called flaws. Real change takes generations. I am so proud that I am here not only to witness but to help with the effort towards body acceptance." She also says, "I've had so much positive feedback. I can feel the masses begging for more. They want to be able to relate to the struggles, success, and celebration of people just like them."

I don't really see my struggles in an 18-year-old plus-size model who is literally making money off being overweight. Sorry. And the reality is that being fat IS life-limiting behavior. Sure, it would be wonderful if overweight people didn't experience prejudice and judgments, but this is not the world we live in. Since I was thin until I quit smoking when I was 37, I know that all too well. It was a real eye-opener to experience that for myself.

Everything is harder in your life when you are fat, from exercise to dating to even looking for a job. Across the board, you get treated worse than thin people do. That is reality. Not to mention the health issues involved when you get to a certain age when overweight and find yourself winded just climbing the subway stairs. It's no picnic. Again, it would be great if fat people didn't experience prejudice, or health problems. But that is not reality.

Runner's World magazine also recently did a story about an overweight runner, but I could relate to her much more. Mirna Valerio, 39, lost 50 pounds from running, but is still fat. However, even at 5 feet 7 and 250 pounds, she does trail running and ultramarathons. She has completed six marathons, two ultramarathons, and a slew of road races (she has a big record in Athlinks!) She also writes the Fat Girl Running blog.

The article does a pretty good job of capturing the double takes people give Valerio when they see her running -- double takes I know all too well!

I also could relate to what she said about her weight: “Of course, deep down, I would like to be thinner,” she tells the magazine. “Accepting my weight doesn't mean I'm satisfied with my weight. You meet a fat person who says otherwise, she's lying.” She also admitted: "I'm just not interested in starving myself on some 1500-calorie-a-day plan, losing a bunch of weight, then gaining it right back because my diet is totally unrealistic," which at least explained why she is still overweight despite all of her races.

But I could have done without this snarky remark from the author in the article: "Valerio runs at about an 11-to 13-minute-mile pace, roughly the same rate at which Terry Fox ran across Canada on one good leg and one prosthetic leg in 1980." Geez, I wish I could run 11 minutes a mile! Sorry that Runner's World thinks that is such a pathetic number.

Anyhow, while I am more interested in weight loss than Valerio is, I was very impressed by her mileage and her speed and her endurance. Interesting story, too. Much more relatable story than the Women's Running cover.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Mets leave an entire 25-man roster on base

Before reverting to Eeyore mode, I'll give the Mets some well-deserved praise for hanging tough through 18 innings to defeat what many consider to be the best team in baseball. The Mets are trying, at least. And now, back to Eeyore mode.

Trying? Trying my patience, and that of everyone else watching this team (except, apparently, the front office). 25 men left on base, tying a franchise record. 1-for-26 with runners in scoring position. Dead last in the National League in runs, ahead of only the White Sox in MLB. Dead last in MLB in batting average. But 17th in walks, so I guess Sandy Alderson's moneyball approach must be working.

But if there's anything that brings out the Eeyore in me and many other Met fans, it's that behind our shouts of "Sandy, do something!" there's another voice muttering, "Sandy, don't make things worse." Last winter, everyone knew the Mets needed offensive help. So Alderson went out and got... Michael Cuddyer and John Mayberry Jr. And he was willing to give up a first-round pick for Cuddyer. If Alderson wants to mortgage the future, he needs to do a lot better than that.  Instead, we could get something like Alderson pulling a reverse Zack Wheeler trade. Hey, he's hurt - out of sight, out of mind, so let's trade him for someone who could help us now, like Carlos Beltran! If nothing else, he'd make Cuddyer seem healthier and younger by comparison.

Of course, it all comes down to money, and as long as the Mets are unwilling to spend, it's all a moot point. They won't even take on payroll to bolster their pathetic bench.

Late in yesterday's game, the SNY feed went out. The game went to audio only, and not broadcast-quality audio either, more like someone listening over the phone.  I wondered if perhaps the Mets had run out of money to pay for the overtime the broadcast  was accruing.  At least you could still hear Keith Hernandez's sighs.


Shocker! I am actually feeling a little confident about the 2015 Yankees' chances!

I know I can be a bit of an Eeyore when it comes to how I think the Yankees will do. (Although Squawker Jon was the one who recently got called that by one of our readers!)

After all, in my preseason predictions, I figured the Yanks would finish in fourth place in the AL East, not win more than 80 games, and have a worse record than the Mets. And even though the Yankees have exceeded everyone's expectations, and are in first place, albeit in a pretty weak division, I still keep on waiting for the other shoe to drop. For Masahiro Tanaka's arm to finally get that Tommy John surgery. For other teams in the division to get hot.

But after Sunday, I am about as positive on this team as I have been all year. Two things impressed me. The first, of course, is that the Yankees got a series win against Seattle, winning a game that King Felix started, with CC Sabathia pitching like the CC of old. CC even roared and pumped his fist after striking out Robinson Cano! Also, Mark (Gluten-Free) Teixeira continued his phenomenal year with the game-winning homer.

The second was that Carlos Beltran did a fundraiser for his baseball academy Sunday night with an "80s Strike Back" theme, and many members of the team showed up, wearing goofy 1980s-style outfits. Although I don't remember some of these styles, and I lived through the 80s!

However, I did so many fashion and hair monstrosities back then, it's not even funny! I do think somebody should have worn a skinny leather tie with parachute pants -- that was a popular guys' style when I was in high school.

My favorite looks from the photo above are from Michael Pineda (the man in the yellow hat), CC Sabathia rocking the overalls, Garrett Jones as Bruce Springsteen and Chris Young with the Run-DMC look. The worst is A-Rod -- he should have gone for a Miami Vice look instead of the generic blazer and shirt!

Anyhow, one of the reasons for the team's success in 2009 seemed to be that they really liked each other. They had the walkoff pies and the kangaroo court and all sorts of silliness. I get the feeling that this 2015 team really likes each other as well. These sorts of bonding events are great for team chemistry.

So I don't know if this team has what it takes to win it all. But Sunday is the best I have felt about their chances all season!

One sour note about Sunday -- was sad to see Rob Refsnyder sent down to the minors. The incriminating picks Stephen Drew must have on Brian Cashman must be really something!