There's always something special about a season's first power rankings. This year, it's the promise of many, many more weeks of Jeffrey Loria jokes.
The rankings (records and previous rankings reflect end of 2012 regular season):
Washington Nationals (98-64; Previous: 1) – Late-spring decision for Soriano was to return immediately to Viera, Fla., or undergo root canal. Tooth healing just fine.
San Francisco Giants (94-68; Previous: 4) – Giants a tighter unit in second championship season despite absence of rally thong. Oh, irony…
Los Angeles Angels (89-73; Previous: 10) – Clubhouse pool sets odds on whether Hamilton is booed in Texas. And that's just at airport and hotel.
Detroit Tigers (88-74; Previous: 11) – Miggy sets out to improve on Triple Crown, to usual categories adds "Most Fly Walk-up Song."
Cincinnati Reds (97-65; Previous: 5) – Reds finally decide on Chapman role; he'll be Dorothy in stage version of "Wizard of Oz."
[Also: AL East Preview: How good are the Blue Jays?
Los Angeles Dodgers (86-76; Previous: 14) – Magic tells Dodgers to embrace the expectations. Dodgers give them a man-hug and some dap, 'cause it's just creepy the other way.
Tampa Bay Rays (90-72; Previous: 9) – Slight problem at end of camp: One of Rodney's imaginary arrows glances off light stanchion and plunges into GM Friedman's BlackBerry.
Toronto Blue Jays (73-89; Previous: 21) – Ontario makes exception for Buehrle, who'll be allowed to keep pit bulls in umpires' room.
Atlanta Braves (94-68; Previous: 6) – Fredi Gonzalez tells Uptons that if they can't stop noodging each other he'll have to separate them in the lineup.
Baltimore Orioles (93-69; Previous: 7) – In effort to lighten tensions over Sept. 5 schedule conflict, Showalter promises to open game with rigorous ritual dance and mouthful of sod.
Texas Rangers (93-69; Previous: 8) – Confusion reigns at start of spring training game when club realizes Nolan Ryan took all the balls and went home.
Oakland Athletics (94-68; Previous: 3) – Owner Lew Wolff comes to camp, gets in a little batting practice. Takes five to right, five to center, and one to San Jose.
New York Yankees (95-67; Previous: 2) – Yankees petition league to push back opening day, just so, "You know, we can get ourselves together here a little bit."
St. Louis Cardinals (88-74; Previous: 12) – Rzepczynski hits self in eye with golf ball, misses time, requires new lens prescription and, worst of all, fails to acknowledge penalty stroke.
Philadelphia Phillies (81-81; Previous: 16) – Phillies' affiliate announces "Urinal Gaming System," players wonder if that's how the "P" got on their caps.
Arizona Diamondbacks (81-81; Previous: 17) – The D'backs are so gritty they hook slide into the on-deck circle. They're so gritty they pine tar their girlfriends before and after
dates. They're so gritty they almost made Gibson smile. Yeah, you get the idea.
Cleveland Indians (68-94; Previous: 27) – Prospect Bauer returns to minors with a plan to, he said, rewrite his "neuromuscular programs." Other demoted guy somewhat embarrassed by his plan to "get better."
[Also: What's keeping King Felix in Seattle other than $175M?
Kansas City Royals (72-90; Previous: 22) – Jeremy Guthrie owns so many sneakers he keeps them in his own "shoe-seum." We offer the Metropolitan Museum of Arch. The Nike du Louvre. The Shoe-genheim. The Kicksonian. The Vans-ican Museums.
Chicago White Sox (85-77; Previous: 13) – GM Hahn predicts of AL Central: "Nobody will run away and hide from anybody." No, there'd be little to gain in that.
Boston Red Sox (69-93; Previous: 25) – Edgy Sox fans decide Caroline not really so sweet. In fact, she's kind of manipulative.
Milwaukee Brewers (83-79; Previous: 15) – Brewers sign Lohse because they needed a quality starter, some innings, a veteran's presence and depth. Also, honestly, they were starting to feel a little sorry for the guy.
San Diego Padres (76-86; Previous: 19) – Padres hoping to surprise some people. Thinking maybe a nice locket or a weekend getaway.
Seattle Mariners (75-87; Previous: 20) – Mariners explain to fans that Felix Hernandez's $175 million contract could bring changes to ballpark pricing. In fact, in order to come to park you'll have to be
Pittsburgh Pirates (79-83; Previous: 18) – Russell Martin throws out one of first 11 base stealers of spring, wonders what people could have expected from a converted shortstop.
Chicago Cubs (61-101; Previous: 29) – Samardzija clarifies story he "dumped" girlfriend to further focus on being a better starting pitcher. In actuality, he released her.
New York Mets (74-88; Previous: 23) – After wiping out Nazism, anarchism, international terrorism and technocratic fascism, Captain America felled by World Baseball Classic.
[Also: Colorado's Troy Tulowitzki stands alone as baseball's most dominant SS
Colorado Rockies (64-98; Previous: 28) – Forbes says Rockies 25th most valuable franchise. Always assumed the dollar carried farther there.
Minnesota Twins (66-96; Previous: 26) – GM Ryan says he and manager Gardenhire are "joined at the hip." While great for job security, it's a bit awkward during pitching changes.
Miami Marlins (69-93; Previous: 24) – Buy a ticket for opening day and receive a free ticket to another game. Or, just drive by Marlins Park and throw loose change into Jeffrey Loria's mouth.
Houston Astros (55-107; Previous: 30) – Owner Crane says folks who believe payroll should be higher are welcome to "write a check for 10 million bucks." Folks ask, "Wait, isn't that your job?"
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