Editorial Note: If there is one thing that all of humanity can agree on, no matter our class, colour, creed or race, it’s that power rankings are ridiculous. I’m convinced that the sole purpose of such exercises in subjective silliness is to give people on certain baseball podcasts something to talk about for ten minutes. They add little and are, generally speaking, a colossal waste of time.
If one is interested in taking stock of where the different teams in baseball are, I suggest one look to the standings. If one is interested in gleaning something beyond the mere outcomes of the games, and increase one’s understanding of the soul of each baseball team, without the hindrance of accuracy, I recommend one read the following piece commissioned from Ryan Oakley.
Ryan is the author of the science fiction novel Technicolor Ultra Mall. His Twitter feed and blog are perfect examples of the types of opinions that you wish you had: informed, witty and slightly acerbic. He’s pretty rad. -D.P.
The American League East
New York Yankees
The Yankees story is always the same.
“We’re professional baseball players. We’ll take it from here. Just hand over the division and no one will get hurt. Have sex with our shortstop for your chance to win a free gift-basket.”
Fucking pricks. I hate the Yankees.
Boston Red Sox
Head aching, emerging from a washroom with red eyes, the Red Sox say: “Look, we’re really sorry about last night. We don’t know what happened. We just wanted to have a few beers then next thing you know, we’re in Baltimore and it’s raining. But, c’mon, give us another chance and we’ll make it up to you. We quit the pills.” Being half Irish, I can relate. But I also suspect they’ll be back at the pub the moment it opens. Just to get the day started on the right foot.
Tampa Bay Rays
Tampa is young, fast and beautiful. If that wasn’t bad enough, when they rifle through their purse, for a pack of slim, ultra-light cigarettes, out falls a copy of Sartre. From the creased spine and dog ears, it looks like they might have even read the damn thing. They’re hipsters. Horrible, sexy hipsters.
And their boyfriend doesn’t even treat them right. If they were our team, we’d pay attention to them. We’d go to their playoff games. What’s that, Tampa? Oh, we’re sorry. I guess we are making a fool of ourselves. If you need us, we’ll just be over here. You won’t need us? Okay.
Toronto Blue Jays
The Jays were kicked off your team. You didn’t like their attitude. They don’t give a fuck. And payroll parameters? Bitch, we were born with payroll parameters. Don’t like our dome? Well, we don’t like your face.
They smoke cigarettes on the field, warm up in leather jackets and, all season long, Jose Bautista will be riding a blue motorbike from the dugout to the batter’s box.
A talented gang of misfits assembled by a reclusive nerd, they just have to meet expectations. Fuck your expectations. And where’s our gift-basket? Yeah, you heard us. #Jerkball.
Eager to prove that they’re still a baseball team, the Orioles have bought their own gloves. Although they don’t have enough for the whole team, Nick Markakis has been really good about letting the other players borrow his. If they only had an old DH who owned a few bats, they might be able to stop asking the opposing team to use theirs. Can lefties and righties use the same bat?
The American League Central
Chicago White Sox
After being banned from baseball following the infamous1919 Stock Market fixing scandal that led to the First World War, the White Sox have finally been allowed into MLB’s semi-professional American League Central Division. Here, they look to get one really good player. If they have that, who knows what can happen? In the meantime, a giant golden statue of Frank Thomas will play first base.
Not content with just playing another season as “The Indians” or keeping a racial caricature on their hats, these happy bigots plan to spend 2012 expanding their racism. They will hold a series of theme days to celebrate Al Jolson and their alternate home uniforms will be, as one front office executive said “like those Chinese pyjamas.” In lieu of the national anthem, there will be readings from “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” Hopefully, all this will distract from what looks to be another dismal year for this fierce band of racist warriors.
Like Bowser in Mario Kart, this team is big and slow. They can also do a lot of damage. But, before they do, they have stop Cabrera from bouncing against the wall and, hopefully, get him going the right way around the base paths.
This team’s statuesque defense includes a converted catcher at every position. Lawn chairs have been installed in the infield and three big screen tvs now grace the outfield grass at Commerica.
These potential problems will be much helped if Verlander can pitch five days a week, striking out 90% of the batters he faces. Considering that he did exactly that in 2011, winning himself an Oscar in the process, this should be a cakewalk.
And, even if he doesn’t, these Tigers will probably outscore the Detroit Lions.
Kansas City Royals
I met a Royals fan once. We talked about 1985. Awkward.
In 2012, this team will once again try to translate minor league potential into major league success. Sadly, they will be using google translate and will only produce gibberish.
This team has no idea what they’re doing but they’re doing it the right way. That means, when they give up a fly ball it doesn’t turn into a homerun. When they hit a flyball, it also doesn’t turn into a homerun. They can catch ground balls, hit their relay men and play good, solid, fundamental baseball. Don’t look to them to throw the ball at the mascot when the play is at first. And their mascot? He does things the right way too. No flips or dances or any of that costume nonsense. He takes you to your seat and shakes your hand. His grip? Firm but friendly. Three pumps and he’s out.
The American League West
Los Angles Angels of Anaheim
Since firing their child manager whose visions of angels in the outfield turned out to be a tragic case of insanity, The Angels have hired Air Bud to play left field. Since that turned out to be a mistake, they decided to put their money into Pujols. And thus, they became frightening. But frightening in a Goosebumps way. Not a The Shining way. Cause, you know, Air Bud is pretty funny.
This team was your dad’s drinking buddy. They had a bad-ass moustache, smoked pot out of a detergent bottle and cranked up Bob Seager. Last time you saw them, they were getting help. For some reason, they’d shaved their head. It made them look old. Like really old.
Pale, anaemic and neurotic, the Seattle Mariners are sitting at the back of class in a Nirvana shirt and avoiding eye contact. They seem like they might be interesting but you can’t get them to say anything. You say hi (score a run) they say nothing. You don;t say anything else.. ‘Hi’ was enough.
Last year, they wore earplugs. Wouldn’t say why.
This year, Ichiro! seems more like Ichiro?.
And that’s the most depressing and mysterious thing to happen in the Pacific Northwest since Milton Bradley killed Laura Palmer.
Texas is a square jawed and rugged salesman of propane and propane accessories. You taste the heat, not the meat. And that meat? Sirloin. Lean, mean and delicious.
But, not everything is how it seems. This cowboy has a history. Strange trips across the border. Cocaine fuelled nights. A memory. He just came so damn close to having it all only to have it all taken away.
He’s staring at the propane. Clenching his jaw harder than Nolan Ryan clenched Robin Ventura’s head. Maybe he should just blow this whole damn place up. That’d show ‘em.
The National League East
The good thing about going to a party with Boston is that no one notices that you did the same thing. As a matter of fact, Atlanta was just fine last year. There was no collapse. LaRussa was a genius. Dotel and Zep took the Cards all the way and there was nothing Atlanta could do about it.
Poor Atlanta. Always the victim.
This year, they won’t have to contend with a super genius or a couple of relief pitchers, nor will they have some flashy shortstop upsetting their geriatric third baseman. So life should be good. The only question that remains is can Atlanta make winning at baseball even more boring than they usually do?
Looking at them sitting in their rocking chair, sipping their lemonade, I bet they can.
“New stuff! We got new stuff!’
Miami is a bright plastic toy. Fresh out of the box. It goes vroom vroom on the carpet. It changes how it looks. It comes with its own house.
But, give it a few days and it’s just going to be collecting dust. And the cat will be sleeping in the box it came in.
“I’m too old for this shit,” say the Phillies. They swig the last of their beer, drop their smoke and look at their fans. “But all right. Let’s roll.”
“This time it’s personal,” say their fans.
Then, at the end of another stumbling to first base play off run, baseball looks at them and says “It’s a damn shame. They were only one day from retirement.”
Until they return our Expos, this team does not exist.
Fat cat, crook bastards.
National League Central
Hopes are high for this year’s Cubs. Not only did they win the world series in an MLB 12 commercial, they also hired famous exorcist Theo Epstein. Rumour is, they may even sacrifice him on the pitcher’s mound. Just like they did in Boston.
But you know and I know that, if they ever get close, the baseball Gods will strike them all dead.
At their best, the Cubs are like a fat guy chilling with a beer, looking at the world and shrugging it off. At their worst, they’re like that same guy buying lottery tickets to win the big jackpot. Cause they figured out the system. And now it’ll be different.
I suspect that when the Baseball Gods heard a Chicago team threw the World Series, they may have made a clerical error of some kind.
Joey Votto signed an extension? The Blue Jays should have gotten him ’cause he was born here and everyone should play where they were born. By the way, Adam Lind sucks. I know this is supposed to be about the Reds but Votto was supposed to be a free agent in two years and its never too soon to start going insane.
Nolan Ryan is so popular in Texas that his mere presence has conjured the ghost of his former team. A team he once killed just to see it die.
He buried the Houston Astros in the National League years ago. But, even though he killed them, they’ve just got to be closer to Nolan. So next year, they’re going to haunt the American League.
Perhaps they’ll rattle a chain. As long as the chain doesn’t have to hit a baseball, they should be good at it. More likely, Nolan Ryan is going to choke their ghost to death with that chain.
Like he once did to Robin Ventura.
This is not so much a team as it is a joke at the Blue Jays expense. They picked up Shawn Marcum and Zach Grienke. This propelled them from bottom dwellers to a playoff team. But, if Jays had’ve kept Marcum and acquired Grienke, you know where they’d be? Fourth place.
Then there’s Prince Fielder. He drove the Jays fans mad with desire then signed with old rival Detroit. The other team his dad played for.
On top of it, Braun’s alleged adventure with PEDs will probably inform way too much of the conversation about Bautista in the season to come. Even though there’s a lack of evidence about Braun, look for Braun being used as evidence about Bautista. It’s nuts.
Bad enough that back in the day, it seemed like the Jays could never beat this team. Now they’re flipping us off from the safety of the NL. Like, what the fuck Milwaukee? What did we ever do to you anyway? I hate you guys. Leave us alone.
The Pirates are being held back by their friend. They’re all like: “Let me at ‘em, let me at em.”
Their friend is like: “Let’s get rid of Lyle first.”
And, for some reason, that’s enough to make them fall apart.
They’re a young hot headed bunch. The question is, can they learn the value of a sucker punch or are they going to stay emotional. All fighty one minute, all mopey the next. Kids, ya know.
St Louis Cardinals
The genius has left the building. So has LaRussa.
Will the Cardinals be able to adapt to lack of a dictator? Are they ready for freedom? The transitional government has a lot on its plate. And with no psychic, Rasputinesque madman to control the collapsing fortunes of other teams, they’re probably lost. We might see a mid-season purge of some kind. Or a revolt.
Power vacuums are often bloody things. At times like this, we all need the stability of a Molina.
The National League West
After hosting the All Star Game and winning the division, this will be another year of Arizona trying to prove that they actually do have a baseball team and that their baseball team is not their basketball team or their football team. (Whomever they are.) Don’t be surprised when you hear the Arizona Cobras have a good record. Be surprised when someone gets the name right.
Last year the Rockies proved that it’s possible to have a really good player (lookin’ at you Troy) and still fail to contend in the National League West. This year, they’ve made some adjustments to their park.
The walls will now be thirty eight feet high and sloped over the field to create a home-run preventing mini-dome. In Left Field will be The COORS LIGHT SHOOTERS who will be armed with shotguns and given a free plastic cup if they manage to shoot any ball out of the air. This ball will be considered a double if hit by the home team and a foul if hit by the opposition. Home plate will occasionally explode when stepped on.
This still remains the most likely stadium for Blernsball to emerge.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Playing in a giant parking lot, this team has taken on the personality of a sleazy used car dealer. You heard they went bankrupt last year? Nonsense. They’re totally solvent. Would a team that was not totally solvent have a basketball player as owner? A basketball player named Magic?
Pay no attention to the team. Pay attention to the Magic. The Magic. Happy thoughts. Good memories. Have you seen our hypo-umbrella? Everything is fine. Trust me.
San Diego Padres
Having replaced their entire pitching staff with an adjustable tee, the Padres are poised to take advantage of Petco Park by using an extra infielder. Does Tony Gwynn still play for these guys?
I haven’t seen this team in years. Maybe it’s the camouflage.
San Francisco Giants
At their best, the Giants are a long drive up a mountain in a lowrider with your best friends. At dawn, you arrive at the summit, light up a fatty and declare it to be the greatest day of your life. Everyone gets a handjob. At least. You smash a beer bottle on a bald eagle’s face. Life is good.
At worst, The Giants are some skeezy dude that your roommate brought home from such a trip. They told you it was great but now there’s some guy in your shower trying to get all the aphids off him. Is all that hair from his beard? God, I hope so cause otherwise . . .
Somewhere between the two, they’re an old dude trying to tell you about politics in some 7-11 parking lot. You’re just waiting for your friend and sipping your slurpie all like, ‘Shit, I’m too high for this.’
What Giants will show up this year? Who cares? If they’re buying, I’m smoking.