For once, my optimism is tempered

Not only have the Yankees pulled into a tie for first place with the Ex-Rays, but ESPN has them toppling them in the Power Rankings, and Lord knows how important that is. But don't all run to your online betting sites and bet your mortgage on the Yankees just yet.

Before we all start tickling each other's taints, let's be realistic about one thing: the most irreplaceable Yankees (non-Rivera category) has not played since Thursday. When Alex Rodriguez left Thursday's game, I almost threw up. Say what you will about his perceived lack of power this year, but there is not a single everyday player on the Yankees that is more valuable than Alex Rodriguez.

After clawing back to pull even with Tampa, the Yankees are in need of the going-into-the-All-Star-break push that allows them to ride their typically-strong second half to October (hyphen much?). With Ramiro "Powerhouse" Pena at the bottom of the lineup, that just doesn't seem realistic.

Not all doom and gloom, though. Alex Rodriguez could return to the lineup, and the Yankees could take a struggling Phillies team behind the woodshed in a three game set. But keep an eye on A-Rod, because the Yankees' fate in 2010 may be more attached to his groin than Cameron Diaz ( I am so topical! Fuck Perez Hilton!).

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