With one-quarter of the season remaining, we're starting to see separation: the Milwaukee Brewers from the NL Central, Philadelphia Phillies from the NL East, Texas Rangers from the AL West, and Carlos Zambrano(notes) from his senses.
Must be August.
The rankings (records through Wednesday's games):
1. Philadelphia Phillies (79-42; Previous: 1) – New acquisition inspires "Pence-ylvania" wordplay, slightly more clever than that old Kruk-adelphia.
2. New York Yankees (74-47; Previous: 3) – Garcia hazy on mishap, says cut finger was result of "what regular people" do in kitchen. Sportswriters furrow brows, try to recall sharp edges on Steak-umm wrappers.
3. Boston Red Sox (74-48; Previous: 2) – Wakefield on 199 wins for so long he reaches 200 on interest accrued.
4. Milwaukee Brewers (73-51; Previous: 4) – Tony Plush street cred crushed when TMZ reports he possesses library card, has no late fees.
5. Texas Rangers (72-52; Previous: 7) – Harrison distracted in Oakland due to behind-plate presence of Ballet Folklorico, at the time performing the traditional "Dance of the Intemperate Beanball."
6. Atlanta Braves (72-52; Previous: 5) – In weird statistical anomaly, Uggla hits in 33 consecutive games, bats .188 in them.
7. Arizona Diamondbacks (69-54; Previous: 9) – Charlie Sheen becomes fan of D'backs, has special affinity for starting rotation, also known as "Two and a Half Men."
8. Tampa Bay Rays (66-56; Previous: 11) – Spring training burglary of Longoria-Price-Brignac now said to include "Rubbermaid style container" filled with marijuana. The company does advertise "Easy find lids."
9. Detroit Tigers (65-58; Previous: 10) – Leyland grabs covert smokes during game, likes to think of himself as "Crouching Tiger, hidden, draggin'."
10. San Francisco Giants (67-57; Previous: 6) – Rowand clarifies "Let's talk about the bears again" quote, insists he loves stock market and will stay loyal to his holdings.
11. Los Angeles Angels (65-59; Previous: 8) – Club management explains to fans those aren't zeroes on the scoreboard, they're oblong halos.
12. St. Louis Cardinals (66-58; Previous: 12) – Pujols goes on tear, has little impact on Cardinals. Just like next year!
13. Toronto Blue Jays (63-60; Previous: 13) – Fan in center field holds up sign: "Fastball." Freaky: Right more often than not.
14. Cleveland Indians (61-58; Previous: 16) – Tribe to have single day off in more than a month. Or, as it's known in many segments of society, paying the rent.
16. Cincinnati Reds (60-63; Previous: 18) – Reds probing Alonso's ability to manage left field – play him out there every eight days or so.
17. New York Mets (60-63; Previous: 15) – Mets to hold promotion in which TV/radio personality will attempt to hug record 1,801 people in an hour. Stipulation: He's only allowed to hug Mr. Met once, lest Mr. Met get the wrong idea.
18. Washington Nationals (58-63; Previous: 20) – Charlie Manuel says Strasburg could be next to throw back-to-back no-hitters. Bases that on fact Strasburg hasn't given up a hit in, like, a year.
19. Pittsburgh Pirates (58-64; Previous: 17) – Bucs lose 13 of 17 following 19th-inning Meals call, their way of saying: If we were any more fragile we'd have packed our season in Styrofoam peanuts.
20. Florida Marlins (57-66; Previous: 14) – So, Marlins apparently have had it with brash man-of-the-people who reveals their own inadequacies in honesty and connecting with their public. Yeah, Ozzie ought to work here.
21. Colorado Rockies (58-67; Previous: 22) – Bad news for Nicasio: He'll have to wear a neck brace for a while. Good news: It's almost turtleneck weather in Denver.
22. Los Angeles Dodgers (55-67; Previous: 23) – Bankruptcy hearing reveals Dodger Stadium is half full. Of what, no one's too sure.
23. San Diego Padres (55-70; Previous: 27) – Moorad tells reporters Padres' 2012 payroll will start with a 5, reveals most of his management wherewithal was gained from watching "The Price is Right."
24. Chicago Cubs (54-70; Previous: 28) – Zambrano makes rash retirement promise. Cubs get to work engraving gold watch before he changes his mind.
25. Oakland Athletics (55-68; Previous: 24) – C.J. Wilson(notes) contends fans in Oakland "suck," and they would have gone out and booed him for it, too, but, you know, it's kinda hot and the A's aren't that good and, I don't know, a nap sounds good.
28. Kansas City Royals (51-73; Previous: 26) – Francoeur passport issues threaten Canadian passage. Also could cost him "Frenchy" nickname.
29. Baltimore Orioles (47-74; Previous: 29) – O's on pace to lose 100. Not exactly what everybody had in mind when they started calling it "Buck Ball."
30. Houston Astros (40-84; Previous: 30) – As Astros most likely to move in realignment, league office sifts through heartfelt invitations from other five divisions.
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