Welcome to Bizarro World in the Bronx.  The New York Yankees weren’t just sellers at the trading deadline, they’re dumping everything as they reboot for the first time since the early 1990’s.  It’s been a great run- and when you have the nucleus they did from 1996-2009 you’re going to mortgage the future to add the necessary piece.  Two of the later pieces to the puzzle will be making their exits in 2016…as Mark Teixeira announced his retirement effective at the end of the year and Alex Rodriguez announced the end of his career effective at the end of the week.  Both are hitting under .210 and are the vestiges of earlier times when the Yanks would tack on an expensive bat.  Both produced for the Pinstripes and were key cogs in the 2009 World Series title.  A-Rod leaves the game as a lightning rod:  Seattle fans dislike him because he bolted for Texas and Ranger die-hards curse his contract that hamstring the team.  Boston fans remember his fight with Varitek and slap of the ball from Bronson Arroyo.  The rest of baseball recalls Rodriguez’s dance with PED’s and pop culture recalls Cameron Diaz feeding him popcorn.  Others remember the legend of the centaur self-portrait hanging above his bed.  For years Rodriguez coexisted with Derek Jeter…and for many Yankee fans A-Rod symbolizes the anti-Yankee as much as Jeter symbolized the true Yankee.  Meanwhile the club looks forward to 2017…and the rest of baseball gets a brief reprieve before the Bombers come back reloaded and ready to wreak havoc on the AL East.

Dissecting the Division- the Nats own a seven game lead over Miami and a nine game advantage over the New York Mets;  they have two series (and six games) against each team over the last two months.  They also have seven games remaining against fourth place Philadelphia and 13 against last place Atlanta.  Lost in the fog of the Braves cratering has been the season of Julio Teheran:  the righthander may be 3-9 but owns a 2.81 ERA, averages 7.95 strikeouts per nine innings pitched and has a WHIP (walks + hits per innings pitched) of 0.97.  Similarly the Phillies fade from a fast start has obscured the year Odubel Herrera has posted:  the second-year centerfielder has already surpassed his rookie totals in homers and stolen bases while needing two more RBI to set a career high.

All in on the AL East- the best division race in baseball resides just up I-95 as the Orioles, Toronto and Boston refuse to blink.  Baltimore owns a one game lead over the Blue Jays while the Red Sox are three games off the pace set by Buck Showalter’s bunch.  While the O’s are by the bay this week visiting AL West cellar-dweller Oakland and NL West leader San Francisco, the Red Sox get the white flag-waving Yankees and last place Arizona.  We continue not to sleep on defending division champ Toronto, who face last place Tampa Bay and on the fringe of contention Houston (Astros falling to earth with 8 losses in their last 10 games).  While Sunday’s hit parade in Chicago against the White Sox by Manny Machado is on everybody’s mind (3 HR and 7 RBI), quality starts thrown by Dylan Bundy & Kevin Gausman have to give the Birds confidence.  If those two can string together solid outings in support of staff ace Chris Tillman, October could be in the offing.


Last Week’s Heroes- Wilson Ramos hit .526 with 3 HR and 8 RBI while calling solid games at the plate.  Trea Turner scored 6 runs while homering twice and Daniel Murphy continues to produce (6 runs scored and 5 RBI).  Jayson Werth?  The over-the-hill outfielder simply gets on base game after game after game.  If we could only be over the hill Werth is currently over.  Tanner Roark went 2-0 with a 2.03 ERA while Mark Melancon tossed four scoreless innings of relief (notching one save).

Last Week’s Humbled- Ben Revere hit .154 as his nightmare season at the plate continues…but you still need and want his glove in CF (see Sunday’s stab in deep center).  Bryce Harper hit .200 with one RBI.  He hasn’t been himself since getting walked an unlucky 13 times in Chicago a few months ago.

Game to Watch- another duel of division leaders in the district?  Max Scherzer has been red-hot this summer–posting a 7-2 record with an ERA of 1.83 since Memorial Day.  The 12-game winner is matched up against Trevor Bauer (who hasn’t won a decision since Independence Day).  Nats fans hope they won’t see the reliever that got away (ex-Yankees closer Andrew Miller).

Game to Miss- with two off days this week we already have opportunities to be well-rounded.  I hope you’ll take advantage and perhaps go to Politics & Prose for an author’s reading Monday or Thursday.  Saturday night Tanner Roark (12-6, 2.88 ERA) pitches against 22-year old rookie Rob Whalen (1-0, 7.20 in one career start).  Even though it’s a 7:05 start, enjoy the day at the pool and perhaps a barbecue at your friend’s house.  Because college football will wipe out free Saturdays before you know it.