Phillies clinch a playoff spot, Tigers make a run for best in AL, Diamondbacks finishing off a remarkable turnaround and Rays remain relevant into mid-September.
There, a whole sentence without Yankees or Red Sox. Enjoy it for another two weeks.
The rankings (Records through Wednesday's games):
1. Philadelphia Phillies (95-51; Previous: 1) – In show of solidarity with their NBA brothers, Phillies won't work for the next two weeks either.
2. New York Yankees (90-58; Previous: 3) – Yanks mulling postseason rotation. So far, have ruled out going alphabetically or boy-girl-boy-girl.
3. Detroit Tigers (87-62; Previous: 9) – Verlander and Fister and pray for a twister. No? Verlander and Fister and who's that, yer sister? All I got.
4. Boston Red Sox (86-62; Previous: 2) – Manny claims domestic violence accusation is a case of mistaken identity. See, he thought she was the traveling secretary.
5. Arizona Diamondbacks (87-63; Previous: 7) – Gibson so tough he doesn't have to shave. He glares at whiskers until they fall off, slink away.
6. Texas Rangers (85-64; Previous: 6) – New eye drops allow Hamilton to hit better during day games. Also can see straight through umpires' uniforms.
7. Milwaukee Brewers (87-63; Previous: 4) – Brewers fatten up on bad teams, defend themselves by reminding folks they do play in the National League.
8. Tampa Bay Rays (82-66; Previous: 8) – Manny argues he is incapable of hitting anybody. As proof, enters into evidence five games with Rays, .059 batting average.
9. Atlanta Braves (86-64; Previous: 5) – Braves reminded to check their mirrors before backing into October.
10. Los Angeles Angels (82-67; Previous: 10) – Angels drop veteran in batting order, admit they'd gone to the Wells once too often.
11. St. Louis Cardinals (81-68; Previous: 12) – Holliday 2011 injuries/ailments: appendix removal, food poisoning, quadriceps tweak, weight-room oblique yank, left-field moth trap, on-deck circle hand sprain. Plan for 2012: Avoid hospitals, restaurants, running, bench press, outfield, bat doughnuts.
13. Toronto Blue Jays (75-74; Previous: 15) – Loewen had never beaten Red Sox as pitcher. If he couldn't do it as hitter, was going to challenge them to badminton.
14. Los Angeles Dodgers (73-75; Previous: 17) – Dodgers rookie spotted in men's room, not first time team accused of having its Sands in the head.
15. Chicago White Sox (73-75; Previous: 13) – Ozzie says he doesn't care if Reinsdorf dumps him. Which, apparently, is why he refuses to stop talking about it.
16. Cleveland Indians (72-74; Previous: 14) – Indians cut Head, team runs around for several games before falling down.
18. Colorado Rockies (70-78; Previous: 19) – Eliezer Alfonzo(notes) to fight steroids suspension. After testing positive for "bronchitis medication" three years ago, he certainly knows how easy it is to contract these hard-core steroids.
19. Pittsburgh Pirates (67-82; Previous: 21) – I ranked the Pirates 19 for obvious – and symbolic – reasons. Sorry, Pittsburgh.
20. New York Mets (71-78; Previous: 18) – Mets cite deep perspective gained from 9/11 anniversary, throw total hissy fit over what caps they get to wear.
21. Washington Nationals (70-77; Previous: 20) – Nats rookies forced to dress as Smurfs, yet another blue period in franchise annals.
22. Florida Marlins (67-81; Previous: 22) – Florida Marlins become Miami Marlins. Anaheim, out of habit, sues.
23. Oakland Athletics (67-82; Previous: 24) – Beane attends "Moneyball" premiere, thinks it's a decent summer movie, but might not hold up in October.
24. Chicago Cubs (65-84; Previous: 25) – Cubs say they're not letting up in final games, explain they got that out of their system in first four months.
25. Kansas City Royals (64-86; Previous: 27) – Royals petition league to have Baseball America organizational rankings factored into AL Central standings.
26. San Diego Padres (63-87; Previous: 23) – Padres go geographical, finish in extreme southwest of standings, too.
27. Baltimore Orioles (60-88; Previous: 29) – They go to Camden Yards to see the O's. And the Ews. And the Ughs. Sometimes, the Icks. Mostly, though, the Ohs.
28. Seattle Mariners (62-87; Previous: 26) – M's throttle Yanks behind former bartender and one-time substitute teacher, which is pretty much how David Wells got it in that diner.
29. Minnesota Twins (59-89; Previous: 28) – Season's gotten so bad, Twins don't even look like themselves anymore.
30. Houston Astros (51-98; Previous: 30) – On the bright side, it'll be a long time before anyone with SABR accuses the Astros of WAR profiteering.
- Red Sox