Sorry it’s a day late, but there were only four games last night, so it’s not like the balance of power shifted since yesterday afternoon. If you’re still upset, though, just sign these forms and you’ll get your money back in sixty days. What? Well, now, that’s what you agreed to when you bought your shares! Look, I know old man Potter is paying fifty cents on the dollar, but if he gets his hand on this blog there’ll never be another decent blog post written in this town again . . .
1. Rays: And it’s not even close. They’re being chased by the best second team in baseball, and they still have the biggest lead of all the first place teams.
2. Phillies: Not a pretty series against the Red Sox, and losing Jimmy Rollins again isn’t a good thing, but they’re basically keeping an even keel despite a few less-than-stellar Roy Halladay starts in a row, so they’re doing OK.
3. Yankees: They’re either about to feast on the Indians, Orioles and Astros in upcoming series, or else they’re about to become the subject of even more “are the Yankees getting old” articles. I’m betting feast and would prefer to see it because I like to see great teams do great things, but if they stumble it will be much easier to write this blog for the next couple of months, that’s for damn sure.
4. Twins: I don’t believe in jinxes and stuff -- as a wise and beautiful fictitious woman once said, “please explain to me the scientific nature of ‘the whammy’” -- but I guess Minnesota has a chance to show everyone that they can finally beat the Yankees this week. And if they can’t do it now, when everyone is all beat up, jeez, when can they?
5. Cardinals: The Cardinals reasserting themselves in the Central after a week or so of the Reds in first place is probably an instance of order being restored, but it’s sort of deflating too given how much fun we were having with the Reds in charge. Kind of like when Sgt. Hulka returned to the unit after Winger got them through the end of basic training.
6. Reds: Not that Winger isn’t still threatening to take over the unit. Tied as of this morning, and a nice job coming off the mat after that devastating loss to the Braves last Thursday. As is the case with the Yankees, the Indians-Pirates-Astros pupu platter will likely make life easier over the next couple of weeks.
7. Padres: Splitting with the Dodgers and Giants and taking two of three from the Mariners is basically holding serve, but enough other teams didn’t do that last week that the bump up a couple of notches is warranted in my view.
8. Dodgers: Still charging despite the injuries and a thin staff. I still think they need to make a move for pitching, even though everyone says that they won’t be taking on payroll. Maybe Frank McCourt can adopt Roy Oswalt and give him a “job” like he did his kids, thereby hiding the money they’d have to pay the guy.
9. Tigers: No Miguel Cabrera for the next couple of games and a rare two offdays this week, so it’s not like we’re going to get all that great a read on Detroit between now and the next time we meet up for the Power Rankings.
10. Rangers: Hands down the best bankrupt team in baseball.
11. Blue Jays: I have no idea how long this nice run will last, but if you’re the Jays you couldn’t have drawn up a better “lots of dudes start strong and maybe allow us to turn them into something at the trade deadline” season if you tried.
12. Braves: Three at Florida where they always struggle, followed by a palette-cleanser at Pittsburgh, and then a death march against Philly and at Los Angeles. I’m going in to take a nap -- when I wake, and I find they’ve come through it all unscathed, I’ll know we have a playoff contender. If not, I’ll know we don’t.
13. Red Sox: Strong starts from Lester, Buchholz, Dice-K and Wakefield made for a nice pick-me-up. They’re four over .500 now, and are more than surviving a profoundly gnarly part of their schedule.
14: Athletics: Nice starts from Trevor Cahill, Gio Gonzalez and Ben Sheets against the Giants, although I think the results had far more to say about the state of the San Francisco lineup than it did the Oakland rotation.
15: Marlins: They don’t care what I say about them because I never played in the major leagues.
16: Giants: We should start a pool in which we all wager on which first-half flash-in-the-pan Brian Sabean trades for at the deadline in order to not fix the Giants offense.
17. Nationals: Losers of seven of ten and now they embark on a ten-game road trip. I have this feeling we’ve seen the last of those “check out the surprising Washington Nationals” articles pretty darn soon.
18. Rockies: Call me crazy, but I don’t think that signing Kaz Matsui is going to spur them on to one of those 2007/2009-style surges.
19. Mets: No matter how rough things are at the moment, taking two of three from the Yankees and lighting up the Empire State Building thusly has to feel good.
20. Angels: Eyeing this weekend, when they begin ten straight games against the Royals and Mariners.
21. Cubs: What to do with Zambrano? How about working him in as part of a six-man rotation? Dumber things have been done on the north side in the past. Anyone remember “Whitlow’s Wall?” No, I’m not going to tell you what it was. That’s between you and Google.
22. Diamondbacks: Nobody say nothin’ seein’ as we don’t want to jinx it, but the Diamondbacks bullpen actually pitched halfway decently last week.
23. White Sox: The Chisox may be a disappointment this year, but at least they’ve given us “Alexis Rios: deserving All-Star” this season, and that’s pretty neat.
24. Pirates: Since they got obliterated in that stretch against the Brewers back in April, the Buccos are close to being a .500 team. A very frustrating .500 team to be sure, but a .500 team all the same. I guess that’s something.
25. Brewers: Losers of eight of ten. Somethin’s got to change.
26. Mariners: Mike Sweeney’s aggressive display after the Griffey thing didn’t exactly fire the team up, but it certainly helped Mike Sweeney, who has been on a tear of late. Maybe he should challenge his teammates to a fight more often.
27. Royals: Take a good look around and remember this moment, everyone, for you are now entering the last week in which Ned Yost will have a .500+ record as manager of the Royals.
28. Indians: It’s kind of sad that the highlights of the season going forward will be watching guys like Kerry Wood and Austin Kearns to see whether the team’s potential trade bait has what it takes to get traded.
29. Orioles: I took guff last week for having the Orioles in last place. They, like the Astros, went 2-5 last week. But in a gesture of friendship and good will, I move them up to 29. May this fill Orioles fans with joy and satisfaction.
30. Astros: Nothing personal Astros fans: you guys just tend not to be as insecure as Baltimore people, so I figured you could handle this. Besides, you’re paying more attention to the Oswalt derby anyway. Which, quite frankly, is way more fun than whatever is happening on the field right now.