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Power Rankings: Playoffs beckon as Nats hold strong at top

Tim Brown
Yahoo Sports

Most frequent phrase heard on Wednesday's International Talk Like a Pirate Day: "Damn, what happened?"

The rankings (records through Wednesday's games):

1. Washington Nationals (90-58; Previous: 1) – Nats headed to Washington baseball's first postseason appearance since FDR was in office. Little-known fact: FDR frequently referred to his election results as "Curly W's."

2. Cincinnati Reds (90-59; Previous: 2) – Reds study Usain Bolt video for ideas on how to pimp last few games of regular season.

3. Texas Rangers (88-60; Previous: 3) – Bad news is Hamilton needed another test, this time for his knee. Good news is his frequent MRI card shows next one is free.

San Francisco
4. San Francisco Giants (86-63; Previous: 4) – Reality-show contestant and former Giant Jeff Kent admits the scheming teammates, massive egos, thunderous personality storms and outright cheating took a lot out of him. Said "Survivor" wasn't so easy, either.

5. Baltimore Orioles (85-64; Previous: 5) – Showalter keeps clubhouse confident and upbeat with shadow hand puppet shows during rain delays.

6. Atlanta Braves (86-64; Previous: 6) – Chipper gets box of sausages from Brewers as going-away gift. Reminds himself never to make a joke in Milwaukee again.

[Also: Rangers' Josh Hamilton will have many suitors]

New York
7. New York Yankees (85-63; Previous: 8) – After argument with reporter, irate Girardi admits pen mightier than sword, but perhaps only a pick 'em vs. binder.

8. Oakland Athletics (84-64; Previous: 7) – Screenwriters for "Moneyball II" already considering ways to write around 2012 pitching staff.

9. Chicago White Sox (81-67; Previous: 13) – Youk so thrilled to be in Chicago he asks teammates to pinch him. Finds one can be alone even in small, crowded clubhouse.

Los Angeles
10. Los Angeles Angels (81-68; Previous: 10) – Arte Moreno beginning to think he'll regret that long-term, big-money contract for Rally Monkey.

Tampa Bay
11. Tampa Bay Rays (79-70; Previous: 9) – Maddon compares down-on-luck offense to country song. For Rays fans, we might go with, "I'm Sorry I Made You Cry, But at Least Your Face is Cleaner."

12. Detroit Tigers (79-69; Previous: 14) – Leyland says "It would blow my mind" if Cabrera doesn't win MVP. Clubbies wonder if that will stain the carpet.

St. Louis
13. St. Louis Cardinals (79-70; Previous: 12) – Carpenter gives removed rib piece to daughter. Daughter smiles, thinks, "Ick."

14. Milwaukee Brewers (76-72; Previous: 19) – Brewers will finish season with two winning months, yet in wild card contention. Decide Bud Selig is earning that statue.

Los Angeles
15. Los Angeles Dodgers (77-72; Previous: 11) – September arrives, Matt Kemp shifts into Least Mode.

16. Philadelphia Phillies (75-74; Previous: 16) – Looks like the Phillies might be running out of season. On the bright side, at least they're running out something.

17. Arizona Diamondbacks (74-74; Previous: 17) – Umpire Jim Joyce, after heroically resuscitating fallen Dbacks' employee, insists to club management he's not capable of performing CPR on entire season.

18. Pittsburgh Pirates (74-74; Previous: 10) – McCutchen, in race for NL batting title, can't believe how consistent Melky has been.

San Diego
19. San Diego Padres (71-78; Previous: 21) – Padres masher takes lead in NL RBI, leaving rest of league's sluggers to chase Headley.

20. Seattle Mariners (70-80; Previous: 18) – Notorious hacker Miguel Olivo walked three times Wednesday night, figures he's now covered for all of next season.

Kansas City
21. Kansas City Royals (67-81; Previous: 22) – Underage binge drinking becomes a problem at Royals games. Sad. Says right on sign: In order to purchase alcohol, you must have seen a Royals playoff game.

[Also: NBC’s ‘Revolution’ revokes Cubs’ 2012 World Series championship]

22. Boston Red Sox (68-82; Previous: 23) – Bobby V points out club has the worst September roster in baseball history. This is unusually comforting to the Houston Astros.

23. Toronto Blue Jays (66-81; Previous: 24) – Yunel Escobar dust-up proves once again that if you have nothing nice to say, write it on your face.

New York
24. New York Mets (66-82; Previous: 20) – Three things Mets fans can still root for: A) Beneficial September experience for younger players; B) R.A. Dickey for Cy Young; C) An incident-free fourth-quarter kneel-down.

25. Miami Marlins (66-84; Previous: 25) – Ozzie responds to those who say he could be too volatile to continue managing Marlins by going on profane Twitter rant.

26. Minnesota Twins (62-87; Previous: 28) – Twins decide they need more innings from their starters. First through sixth would be good.

27. Cleveland Indians (61-88; Previous: 27) – Seeking way out of Cleveland, closer Chris Perez evidently decides best tactic is to channel Bobby Valentine.

28. Colorado Rockies (58-90; Previous: 26) – Rockies to produce study on ballpark/atmospheric influences on pitching. Maybe they should call it the yearbook.

29. Chicago Cubs (58-91; Previous: 29) – Ballpark interaction leaves Ricketts with impression fans on board with team direction. He should probably get out of his suite more.

30. Houston Astros (48-101; Previous: 30) – Lowrie comes off DL after two months. Missed 11 wins.

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