And then one day it is time to let go.
You stick it out for as long as you can, if only because of the good times. And, damn, for the kids.
But, the eyes go dull, and the laughter goes away and, you know, let's be honest, you've had your eye on that hot little number from L.A. anyway.
So, with that, the Yahoo! power rankings say good-bye to the Tampa Bay Rays, who'd ridden the No. 1 spot for the entire semi-glorious history of these highly scientific ratings. Yes, for three weeks.
We'd grown so close. But the magic is gone.
They'd lost consecutive series to the Orioles, Yankees and White Sox, then lost the opener in Seattle, and you don't have to hit us over the head.
More than three or four times.
Their team ERA and starters' and relievers' ERA's are in the 5's, when last season they were all in the 3's, and the guys who have pitched well for them could fit easily into a New York cab, with none of them having to take the creepy front seat. Out they go.
Week 4 (or, as we're going to think of it, the rebound power rankings):
2. Boston Red Sox (9-6; Previous: 2) – Ortiz batting barely .200 with no home runs, tells Nation's hand-wringers, "Don't worry, be Papi."
3. Chicago Cubs (8-6; Previous: 3) – Cubs-themed cemetery opens, Wrigley cat recreates 1969 Shea dash, goat hangs from Harry, prospective owners seek more cash, Bradley hitting .043. Yeah, baby, this is the year!
4. Toronto Blue Jays (12-5; Previous: 14) – Vernon Wells jokes on video Aaron Hill is "racist" and Hill laughs, but not an over-the-top laugh like he's trying to cover for something, and not, like, one of those half-laughs where you're not really sure if he thinks it's that funny and not any laugh that might make it look like in this day and age that could be sort of an uncomfortable public joke for a white guy. OK?
5. St. Louis Cardinals (11-5; Previous: 11) – Ozzie Smith says Pujols will win All-Star Game with homer in ninth; La Russa preemptively scolds Charlie Manuel for playing Pujols all nine.
6. Florida Marlins (11-4; Previous: 9) – Marlins lose three in Pittsburgh, wonder when next series against Nationals starts.
7. Tampa Bay Rays (6-10; Previous: 1) – In 20-minute players-only meeting veterans make point it was a lot less stressful when they were terrible, vote to call themselves "Devil Rays" again.
8. New York Yankees (9-6; Previous: 5) – Club adapting to wind patterns that carry to right-center field after decades in which the bluster blew straight out of the owner's box.
9. Philadelphia Phillies (6-8; Previous: 4) – Lidge gets ovation after first blown save in Philly, later admits that when everyone stood his initial reaction was to run for it.
10. New York Mets (6-9; Previous: 7) – Mets order Gooden autograph cleaned off, while at it also demand that past two Septembers be erased. And maybe most of the '60s. The Scott Kazmir trade, too. The Scioscia home run.
12. Chicago White Sox (8-7; Previous: 15) – It's "Talk Like Shakespeare Day" in Chicago and Ozzie Guillen can't believe his bad luck – White Sox on the road.
13. Minnesota Twins (7-9; Previous: 10) – Twins fans don't fear reaper, scream for more Ku-bell.
15. Kansas City Royals (8-7; Previous: 19) – K.C. ranks in AL: ERA: 2; Starting pitchers' ERA: 3; Strikeouts: 1; Fielding percentage: 1. All this, amazingly, while dragging Farnsworth.
16. Oakland A's (5-9; Previous: 12) – Not only have the new, muscled-up A's hit all of four home runs (or as many as Melky Cabrera), there was this headline in the S.F. Chronicle the other day: "Cabrera Trying to Bunt His Way Out of Slump." Seriously now.
17. Atlanta Braves (7-8; Previous: 13) – McCann, battling vision issues, blinks hard, says it's crazy, but almost looks like Braves scored only six runs in three games against Nats.
19. San Diego Padres (9-6; Previous: 27) – Forbes values Padres at $401 million, a 4 percent increase, and Moores divorce settlement gets a little choppier.
20. Arizona Diamondbacks (6-9; Previous: 18) – Haren gets run support, Chase Field plagued by grasshoppers, D'backs on lookout for other end-of-world harbingers.
21. Pittsburgh Pirates (9-6; Previous: 26) – Pirates pitch themselves to best start in six years, figure they'll invite people to come see them soon.
22. Cincinnati Reds (9-6; Previous: 22) – Reds win consecutive series in Milwaukee, Houston and Chicago with, um, pitching. Grounds crew put on lookout for grasshoppers. Lots of grasshoppers.
23. Detroit Tigers (8-6; Previous: 20) – It's good to have Porcello around, if only to remind themselves of what Verlander was.
26. Houston Astros (6-9; Previous: 28) – Clemens bursts into laughter and says he was totally confused, all along thought people had been calling it the Porn Star State. His bad.
27. Colorado Rockies (5-9; Previous: 24) – Still seeking lost Rocktober mojo, Rockies figure it could be worse, have 10 players with more home runs than Holliday.
28. Baltimore Orioles (8-8; Previous: 25) – O's get back to business of being O's, start clearing space for Wieters.
29. San Francisco Giants (6-8; Previous: 29) – Zito goes seven strong, D'backs have seen enough, retreat to storm cellar.
30. Washington Nationals (3-11; Previous: 30) – Company puts "O" back into Natinals, Nationals immediately misplace it, are shut out by Braves.
- White Sox
- Tampa Bay Rays