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Yankees holding onto first in AL East

The New York Yankees were supposed to be pretty bad in 2015. New York, which is used to seeing the franchise with 27 World Series championship win and win often, was resigned to the fact that the Yankees were probably not going to factor much into the race. It was, after all, a team with a bunch of aging players with massive contracts and an ace with a balky arm.

However, we are halfway through the season and New York – while not great – does not seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. The Yankees are 42-37 and leading what can only be described as a mediocre American League East by a half-game over the Baltimore Orioles, one game over the Tampa Bay Rays and 1.5 games better than the Toronto Blue Jays.

New York is riding the surprising performances of Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira, who have both rediscovered their power strokes against all odds. Teixeira is leading the team with 19 home runs and 54 RBI, despite having a pedestrian .241 average. Teixeira is not alone in the power department, with Rodriguez hitting 15 home runs while stroking a .275 average. Rodriguez has been the source of much attention this year, passing Willie Mays on the all-time home run list while also nabbing his 3,000th hit.

Rodriguez has recently been in the headlines because of his fight with Yankees management about his home run bonus money, which was supposed to be paid out when he passed Mays. In his contract, Rodriguez was rightfully going to get $6 million for the milestone, but New York balked because of his long-running issues with performance enhancing drugs.

On Friday, the two sides agreed to give $3.5 million of the bonus to charity, a goodwill gesture on both sides, per USA Today.

Under the agreement, the Yankees will split $1 million among the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, the Boys & Girls Club of Tampa and Pitch In For Baseball. New York will give $2.5 million to the MLB Urban Youth Foundation.

Meanwhile, New York continues its battle toward the AL East championship, something which seems extremely attainable at the moment. Even with Adam Warren currently pitching the best of anybody on the staff, the Yankees are holding firm in what should be one of the best four-team races we have ever seen. If the Boston Red Sox had any pitching, the whole division would be in on it.

While New York is equally loved and hated, baseball is always better when the Yankees are involved deep into the campaign. It draws out passion on both sides of the fence, something that is always good in sports. The Bronx Bombers may not be back like the old days, but pennant fever could soon be sweeping those in pinstripes once more in 2015.

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