On Freeman’s rehab instructions, soaring South American camelids, Puig’s bond with centerfold models, and Cliff Lee’s death stare.
The rankings (records through Wednesday):
1. St. Louis Cardinals (57-36; Previous: 3) – For All-Star Game at Citi Field, Beltran gets former locker. Wondered where that old white sock had gone.
2. Boston Red Sox (58-39; Previous: 2) – David Ortiz sets record for most career hits by a DH, also for most time spent in baseball uniform musing over sunflower seed spray patterns.
3. Pittsburgh Pirates (56-37; Previous: 1) – Sports Illustrated cover is first to feature a Pirate since 1992. Well, not counting that Gene Lamont swimsuit edition from the Seychelles in ’98.
4. Oakland Athletics (56-39; Previous: 5) – A’s open gates early on Fridays so public can watch Cespedes batting practice. Only request is fans not use restrooms more often than absolutely necessary.
5. Tampa Bay Rays (55-41; Previous: 10) – Cool thing about Rays getting only one All-Star, he could carpool to game with all their season-ticket holders.
6. Texas Rangers (54-41; Previous: 7) – Though severe weather near livestock communities often a problem in Texas, primary concern is not Sharknado, but The Alpacalypse.
7. Atlanta Braves (54-41; Previous: 4) – Extreme hugger Freeman jams thumb, doctors prescribe a week of rest, ice packs and air kisses.
8. Detroit Tigers (52-42; Previous: 9) – In All-Star introductions, Miggy low-fives Pedroia; Pedroia high-fives Miggy.
9. Baltimore Orioles (53-43; Previous: 8) – In a quiet moment, Manny Machado asks Chris Davis what the “true” doubles record is. Asking, you know, for a friend.
10. Cincinnati Reds (53-42; Previous: 6) – In doubleheader Tuesday at AT&T Park, Reds to be home team in first game, visitors in second. In between, they’ll change uniforms and put Mr. Red on a Delta flight.
11. Cleveland Indians (51-44; Previous: 11) – Noted blithe spirit Brett Myers slams Rivera All-Star MVP, because this time that sweet ‘Vette Stingray counts.
12. New York Yankees (51-44; Previous: 12) – Given news A-Rod is back, traveling secretary books future charters through Southwest, where excess baggage flies free.
13. Arizona Diamondbacks (50-45; Previous: 13) – Reports say Towers lost his voice. Actually, he traded it for a power bullpen arm and an electrolarynx.
14. Los Angeles Dodgers (47-47; Previous: 16) – Puig spotted at Playboy mansion with a lot of other people who’ve had one good month.
15. Washington Nationals (48-47; Previous: 15) – Well, if the Nats aren’t going to do anything for Washington baseball, least they could do is get to work on gun control and immigration issues.
16. Philadelphia Phillies (48-48; Previous: 22) – Cliff Lee’s All-Star death stare, turns out, was intended for those teams on his no-trade list. They know who they are.
17. Colorado Rockies (46-50; Previous: 17) – Rockies are 3-12 in interleague games, but, to be fair, one of those games was against NFL and two against NBA.
18. Toronto Blue Jays (45-49; Previous: 14) – In Cleveland, gleeful Jays fans chant, “We have healthcare! We have healthcare!” Promptly pummeled by amenable Indians fans.
19. Los Angeles Angels (44-49; Previous: 18) – After another disappointing first half, Moreno sticks with Scioscia, relocates press box to groundskeeper’s shed.
20. San Francisco Giants (43-51; Previous: 19) – So, turns out Chad Gaudin was first to think of the whole “hugs for votes” strategy.
21. Kansas City Royals (43-49; Previous: 21) – At trading deadline, front office choosing between buying, selling or slathering the whole thing in barbecue sauce.
22. Seattle Mariners (43-52; Previous: 25) – M’s don’t expect to be overly aggressive sellers at trading deadline, but to be safe have reserved some space in display cooler at Pike Place Market.
23. New York Mets (41-50; Previous: 24) – One-thousand re-tweets and Matt Harvey will hit Robinson Cano in the leg with a fastball.
24. San Diego Padres (42-54; Previous: 20) – An analysis of new CEO hire shows Padres get a Dee.
25. Chicago Cubs (42-51; Previous: 26) – Cubs said to have interest in Independent League reliever, hope bullpen can go from bad to Wuertz.
26. Minnesota Twins (39-53; Previous: 23) – Terry Ryan says he’ll sink or swim with manager, thinks maybe Gardenhire is inflatable.
27. Chicago White Sox (37-55; Previous: 27) – Hawk insists his preference is to “die in a booth,” which is how the coolest mobsters have always been offed.
28. Milwaukee Brewers (38-56; Previous: 28) – In light of Snowden affair, Brewers vote to boycott playoffs.
29. Miami Marlins (35-58; Previous: 30) – Coming soon to a ballpark near you, the story of massive hurricane-spewing, wallet-eating creatures: Marlinado.
30. Houston Astros (33-61; Previous: 29) – Astros wondering if Snowden needs a wingman.
Related coverage on Yahoo! Sports:
• Midseason MLB awards: MVP candidates | Cy Young contenders
• Dwight Gooden talks ’86 Mets, grandkids, addiction, sobriety and Tuffy Rhodes
• A’s to open gates early on Fridays so fans can enjoy batting practice