Seventeen teams within two games of .500, one direction or the other, make the rankings a delicate and exact science. We apologize ahead of time for the dart perforations.
The rankings (records through Wednesday's games):
1. Texas Rangers (10-2; Previous: 4) – Ron Washington stands and demands of reporter: "Look at my knees. You see them shaking?" Reporter gently weeps.
2. Detroit Tigers (9-3; Previous: 5) – Justin Verlander throws 131 pitches on April 16, triggering debate: Does Jim Leyland understand what "tax day" means?
3. Washington Nationals (10-3; Previous: 14) – Given best pitching staff over first two weeks, team goes from Gnats to Knats.
4. St. Louis Cardinals (9-3; Previous: 16) – Missouri Supreme Court decision goes against Mike Matheny business interests. Manager secretly believes legal precedent should be correctable through instant replay.
5. Los Angeles Dodgers (9-3; Previous: 17) – Matt Kemp makes no secret of desire to win NL MVP, figures sweeping every NL player of week award might get him closer to Ryan Braun.
6. Toronto Blue Jays (6-5; Previous: 9) – Sergio Santos blows first two save opportunities. John Farrell advises him to have a short memory. Santos' presumed response: "Who are you again?"
7. Arizona Diamondbacks (7-5; Previous: 11) – With Justin Upton, Chris Young and Stephen Drew out with injuries, Kirk Gibson shows empathy by breaking own arm.
8. Atlanta Braves (7-5; Previous: 15) – Chipper Jones, to be honored at Citi Field, says it's not necessary, as Mets pitchers have done enough for him already.
9. New York Yankees (6-6; Previous: 3) – Yanks to help celebrate 100 years of Fenway Park. By "celebrate" mean "play cards in clubhouse" and "stare dolefully at clock."
10. Tampa Bay Rays (6-6; Previous: 1) – Rays' defense shifts so often Joe Maddon purchases extended warranty for clutch.
11. San Francisco Giants (6-6; Previous: 12) – Brian Wilson to have second Tommy John surgery. One more and the next one is free.
12. Cleveland Indians (5-5; Previous: 18) – Indians mount wind turbine atop stadium. Calibrate it toward Ozzie Guillen's house.
13. New York Mets (7-5; Previous: 24) – Mets win seven of first 12 games; New Yorkers fear Mr. Met's head is getting too big.
14. Los Angeles Angels (4-8; Previous: 2) – Mike Scioscia will not play Mike Trumbo defensively until Trumbo is at least as good at third base as Mike Napoli was at catcher.
15. Philadelphia Phillies (5-7; Previous: 7) – Strange, Rays fans thought Pat Burrell already had retired as a Phillie.
16. Baltimore Orioles (7-5; Previous: 29) – O's rise from 29 to 16, actually pause at 21 to decompress.
17. Milwaukee Brewers (6-6; Previous: 8) – Yeah, the Brewers miss Prince Fielder for his bat. But, more, for the potholders he'd crochet for the wives every Christmas.
18. Miami Marlins (6-6; Previous: 10) – Miami-area Cubans admit you have to love and respect Ozzie Guillen for still being in that job.
19. Boston Red Sox (4-8; Previous: 6) – Kevin Youkilis down with injury; Bobby V believed Youk's groin was not as emotionally into it as in past.
20. Colorado Rockies (6-6; Previous: 19) – Jamie Moyer becomes oldest pitcher to win a major-league game. Also boasts impressive ERA, WHIP and AARP.
21. Chicago White Sox (6-5; Previous: 25) – Sox pitchers allowing so many home runs tightfisted management actually kind of happy fans throw some back.
22. Seattle Mariners (7-6; Previous: 26) – King Felix finally curious enough to ask, "Um, what exactly am I the king of again?"
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23. Oakland Athletics (6-7; Previous: 21) – Little-known fact: A's moved to San Jose two years ago, MLB and Giants yet to notice.
24. Cincinnati Reds (4-8; Previous: 13) – Report says Albert Pujols almost a Red. True, too, if by "almost" meant "flew over Ohio on way to L.A."
25. Houston Astros (4-8; Previous: 30) – Stephen Strasburg gives up two runs in six innings against Astros, assumes he must have been tipping his pitches. No, that actually happened.
26. Kansas City Royals (3-9; Previous: 20) – American Leaguers pessimistic for All-Star game, seeing as home team never wins in K.C.
27. Minnesota Twins (4-8; Previous: 22) – "Liriano" is Spanish for "my slider's almost there."
28. Pittsburgh Pirates (5-7; Previous: 27) – Pirates already have played eight one-run games. A man at second is now considered "an insurance run."
29. Chicago Cubs (3-9; Previous: 28) – Cubs so bad, goat now thinking they've cursed him.
30. San Diego Padres (3-10; Previous: 23) – John Moores hoping to ride Dodgers coattails to big sale. For right price, willing to throw in ex-wife's withering glare.
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