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):
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?
Washington Nationals (10-3; Previous: 14) – Given best pitching staff over first two weeks, team goes from Gnats to Knats.
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.
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?"
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.
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.
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."
Tampa Bay Rays (6-6; Previous: 1) – Rays' defense shifts so often Joe Maddon purchases extended warranty for clutch.
San Francisco Giants (6-6; Previous: 12) – Brian Wilson to have second Tommy John surgery. One more and the next one is free.
Cleveland Indians (5-5; Previous: 18) – Indians mount wind turbine
atop stadium. Calibrate it toward Ozzie Guillen's house.
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.
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.
Philadelphia Phillies (5-7; Previous: 7) – Strange, Rays fans thought Pat Burrell already had retired as a Phillie.
Baltimore Orioles (7-5; Previous: 29) – O's rise from 29 to 16, actually pause at 21 to decompress.
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.
Miami Marlins (6-6; Previous: 10) – Miami-area Cubans admit you have to love and respect Ozzie Guillen for still being in that job.
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.
Colorado Rockies (6-6; Previous: 19) – Jamie Moyer becomes oldest pitcher to win a major-league game. Also boasts impressive ERA, WHIP and AARP.
Chicago White Sox (6-5; Previous: 25) – Sox pitchers allowing so many home runs tightfisted management actually kind of happy fans throw some back.
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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Oakland Athletics (6-7; Previous: 21) – Little-known fact: A's moved to San Jose two years ago, MLB and Giants yet to notice.
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."
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.
Kansas City Royals (3-9; Previous: 20) – American Leaguers pessimistic for All-Star game, seeing as home team never wins in K.C.
Minnesota Twins (4-8; Previous: 22) – "Liriano" is Spanish for "my slider's almost there."
Pittsburgh Pirates (5-7; Previous: 27) – Pirates already have played eight one-run games. A man at second is now considered "an insurance run."
Chicago Cubs (3-9; Previous: 28) – Cubs so bad, goat now thinking they've cursed him
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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