Last night’s Twins/Yankees game was probably the best game I have watched in a really long time. As a Yankees fan, around the fourth inning, I was smelling yet another shellacking at the hands of the surprising Minnesota Twins. The Bombers were down 5-0 after another(!) poor outing from CC Sabathia. But then, the 2015 Yankee savior stepped up to the plate. Alexander Emmanuel Rodriguez clobbered a homer to the third deck (it was later deemed to be a 480+ footer!) and set the wheels in motion for one of the biggest games of the year. Three (THREE!!) homers from A-Rod, one massive 3-run homer from back up catcher John Ryan Murphy, and a sac fly later, the Yanks won the game in spectacular fashion.
This year, with this group of guys, makes for one fun team to watch. It’s not just that the Yanks are actually playing like they are being paid to play, but there seems to be a whole new attitude amount the players in the dugout. There seems to be a little more life to this team. Maybe it’s because they are all relatively healthy. Maybe it’s because they are starting to get production from the bottom of their line up. Maybe there is an over-arching sense of optimism about not just getting to October this year, but how they could be getting to many more Octobers to come given the influx of homegrown talent coming up through the farm system.
Or, maybe, it is the presence of new (and recently returned) guys in the clubhouse. It’s amazing how just a few players can change the dynamics of a clubhouse. This year, I’ve noticed things are a little looser in the Big Apple, which is not a bad thing at all. There have been more bat flips, more enthusiastic interviews, and a lot of fun moments in the dugout.
I know it sounds crazy, but is it possible that with Derek Jeter no longer in the clubhouse, everyone is a little more rambunctious? It’s blasphemous, I know, but just hear me out: DJ was a quiet leader who kept to himself and felt that all the other players should do the same. His mentality was that he only wanted his bat and his glove to do the talking. Perhaps with his stoic leadership gone, the stoic nature of the Yankees’ clubhouse is gone, too.
Let’s face it: A-Rod is the new OG (Originial Gangster) in town and he is anything but quiet and stoic. He’s been acting as a pseudo-coach to the younger players and has quietly mentored them, too. He’s taken the pressure off his teammates in terms of the media attention, and not only that, but he has given every teammate the highest of praise. He has also shown, more indirectly, that you can’t take the game for granted. My guess is that his teammates see how much he embraces the game now and how excited he is to not just produce in the line-up, but thrive. A-Rod has been a humbler man this year and he looks like he is having the time of his life everyday. That childlike enthusiasm is rubbing off on his teammates, too. Everyone seems happy and lighter in the Yankees’ clubhouse. Whether that is because of A-Rod is anyone’s guess, but I’d like to think that he has contributed to that somehow.
The 2015 Yankees are having a fun time playing baseball and it’s making it fun for the fans to watch. Of course, baseball is always more fun when your team is winning. If the Yanks, God forbid, go on a skid, we will see how this new attitude holds up. However, I think it’s been fun to see the Yankees playing with the enthusiasm and attitude of little leaguers. Baseball is, after all, a game. In 2015, the Yankees are not all uppity and prissy, high and mighty, but rather a club full of guys who are having the time of their lives. Regardless of why this team has a new attitude, it’s a fun team to watch and I am so excited to see them perform the rest of the season, and hopefully into October, as well.