You want to know how I get from one to 30.
A fair question going into Week 3. Clearly it's not always a straight line or even an intelligible one. It is, however, heartfelt. Maybe that's a little strong.
Anyway, I do not have a formula; no equations or anything.
Teams are ranked according to what I believe to be their general capabilities, not necessarily how they are playing today. It is, for example and for the moment, why the Boston Red Sox are where they are and the Seattle Mariners are where they are.
Some weight is given to schedule, and to key injuries, and to whether the injured will return to the lineup anytime soon. And, again, to how much I really believe in a team's talent.
It's why the Rays are where they are.
So, it's about the numbers (generally I'll be leaning toward teams that pitch), and it's about what I'm looking at, and it's about, I guess, feel. And then I try not to take it too seriously.
So, here we are, Week 3:
1. Tampa Bay Rays (4-6; Previous: 1) – Rays on opening night raise three banners: 2008 AL East championship, 2008 AL pennant, and the 1984 AL West flag they swiped last July during that crazy weekend in Kansas City.
2. Boston Red Sox (3-6; Previous: 2) – Beckett rues missing an unsuspecting Abreu, prepares for next start against Angels by whipping rocks at distracted baby ducks.
3. Chicago Cubs (5-4; Previous: 3) – Experts consult book of curses and witchcraft, say best way to mollify dead angry goat probably isn't to slay descendant, then string him up on bronze statue of famous guy. Book says team instead should consider Marmol in ninth.
4. Philadelphia Phillies (4-4; Previous: 4) – Matt Stairs, on the hidden strategy, precision and finesse required in the batter's box: “I try to hit every ball as far as I can.” OK, then there's that.
5. New York Yankees (5-5; Previous: 5) – After fans chant, “Move that bus! Move that bus!”, George Steinbrenner bursts into tears at sight of brand new ballpark.
7. New York Mets (4-5; Previous: 7) – Mets open Citi Field with a loss, complain new ballpark smell left them feeling a little nauseous.
8. Los Angeles Angels (4-5; Previous: 6) – Scioscia ignores Fuentes in obvious save situation, explains he's keeping him fresh for later in season. Declines to say which season.
9. Florida Marlins (8-1; Previous: 15) – Marlins mindful of not playing too well, lest management gets any ideas about trading all their good players.
11. St. Louis Cardinals (8-3; Previous: 12) – Cards wonder if Ankiel is going to hit like a pitcher, maybe he would consider taking Carpenter's place in the rotation for a month or two.
12. Oakland A's (4-5; Previous: 10) – Through nine games, two guys – Cust and Garciaparra – had hit home runs. Beane spotted prodding Holliday and Giambi with butt end of fungo bat.
13. Atlanta Braves (5-4; Previous: 13) – Braves relievers introduce fresh strategy to late-inning, bases-loaded situations: the walk. Bobby Cox, ever old school, will have to think this through.
15. Chicago White Sox (5-4; Previous: 18) – Ozzie reveals he almost quit last June, continuing his streak of threatening to quit every month since White Sox won World Series. Hall of Fame notified.
16. Milwaukee Brewers (3-6; Previous: 11) – Macha, aware that Brewers aren't hitting, pitching or defending, calls team meeting to compliment fellas on keeping neat work spaces.
18. Arizona Diamondbacks (3-6; Previous: 16) – “I feel the same way they do,” Eric Byrnes says of fans who boo him at Chase Field, then proves it by pelting himself with plastic beer bottles and giveaway seat cushions.
19. Kansas City Royals (5-4; Previous: 21) – Bad news for Royals as Gordon goes to Colorado for hip surgery. On bright side, they've always hoped he could be their A-Rod.
20. Detroit Tigers (5-4; Previous: 23) – Adam Everett gets sick, ordered to stay away from ballpark. Club well remembers last year, when pitching staff came down with strike-zone aversion and never did shake it.
21. Texas Rangers (4-5; Previous: 19) – Rangers break five-game losing streak, figure 19 runs ought to do it. Blalock awakens during streak with stiff neck, X-rays mistaken for pitcher's.
22. Cincinnati Reds (4-4; Previous: 20) – Reds not hitting much for average or power, not pitching much after Harang and Arroyo, perfectly at home in the NL Central.
23. Seattle Mariners (7-3; Previous: 28) – Mariners have a Jakubauskas on their roster. With his cap on, you can hardly see the little antlers.
24. Colorado Rockies (4-4; Previous: 25) – Street tries to hold down closer job; sadly, too many pitches right down Broadway.
25. Baltimore Orioles (6-3; Previous: 26) – After 36 years, Orioles heed fans' requests and return the name “BALTIMORE” to the front of road jerseys. After 11 consecutive losing seasons, fans, turns out, had sort of hoped to keep team's home vague for a little while longer.
26. Pittsburgh Pirates (4-5; Previous: 27) – Pirates beginning to wonder if “LaRoche” is French for “Doesn't hit in April.”
28. Houston Astros (3-6; Previous: 22) – Club puts Moehler on DL, feels like it's been kicked in the teeth.
29. San Francisco Giants (2-6; Previous: 24) – Giants play series at AT&T Park, Petco Park and Dodger Stadium, which explains only five home runs hit. Statisticians still researching remarkable 6.01 ERA, however.
30. Washington Nationals (1-7; Previous: 30) – A neat trick: Nats fall out of contention before playing a home game.