On the Loria Factor, the Blue Jays’ excuse against guys not throwing spitballs, saving potato bugs, free hot dogs in McCovey Cove and the evil black magic of tape recorders:
The rankings (records through Wednesday):
1. Baltimore Orioles (21-13; Previous: 5) – Brian Roberts sees specialist for hamstring injury. Makes you wonder if he’s seen so many specialists they don’t really seem that special anymore.
2. St. Louis Cardinals (21-12; Previous: 6) – Unable to establish bullpen that retires hitters, Cards turn to retired pitcher, ask for the gold watch back.
3. Texas Rangers (21-13; Previous: 2) – Darvish said he’d heard uncomplimentary things about new catcher Pierzynski, who figured Darvish must have been talking to, you know, everyone.
4. Detroit Tigers (19-12; Previous: 12) – Tigers take up cause of saving endangered tigers, privately relieved franchise didn’t name itself the potato bugs. Because they’re gross and nobody wants them around.
5. Atlanta Braves (20-13; Previous: 1) – B.J. a little jealous about little brother Justin’s start. Sighs. Pitchers always did like him better.
6. Boston Red Sox (21-13; Previous: 4) – Buchholz the 42nd overall pick in 2005. Amazing how many teams allowed him to slip through their fingers.
7. San Francisco Giants (20-14; Previous: 3) – ESPN goes to McCovey Cove, gives away dozens of hot dogs. Couldn’t give them all away, of course, as someone had to host SportsCenter that night.
8. Colorado Rockies (19-14; Previous: 9) – Upton brothers, Hairston brothers, Molina brothers, Nix brothers, Rex Brothers…
9. New York Yankees (19-13; Previous: 13) – A-Rod tells reporters he has “a lot of unfinished business,” clarifies however that he’s actually settled up the Biogenesis account.
10. Kansas City Royals (17-13; Previous: 14) – Royals like Alex Gordon a lot more now that everyone else has decided he’s not a bust and that the Royals were right to continue believing in him, no matter what everyone else said.
11. Pittsburgh Pirates (18-15; Previous: 15) – Everybody laughed when Pirates introduced military style training, but look at them now. Granted, everybody’s still laughing about that. But still.
12. Cincinnati Reds (19-16; Previous: 7) – Baker reaches 1,600 career wins, passes Lasorda on all-time list, insists at 63 he still has a few arms to burn out before he’s done.
13. Arizona Diamondbacks (19-15; Previous: 10) – D'backs grant the bullpen hasn’t been great, stop short of saying it’s ka-Putz.
14. Washington Nationals (18-15; Previous: 11) – By end of World Series, Harper will be legally permitted to sip post-game Champagne. (Clown observation, bro.)
15. Cleveland Indians (17-14; Previous: 24) – Indians pitchers don’t give up cheap home runs. By that we mean they’ve asked umpires to disallow anything that’s not, you know, waaaay over the fence.
16. Oakland Athletics (18-17; Previous: 8) – Following blown call, umpire Angel Hernandez refuses to have explanation digitally recorded, also considers replay technology some kind of creepy witchcraft.
17. San Diego Padres (16-18; Previous: 29) – Padres make strong move to pass Dodgers in standings. Try to remember a time that meant something.
18. Milwaukee Brewers (15-17; Previous: 17) – Selig rejects five-year extension offer, clearly intends to test free agency.
19. Minnesota Twins (15-15; Previous: 21) – Gardy gives Hicks a stern talking to, later refers to conversation as just a little tough glove.
20. Tampa Bay Rays (15-18; Previous: 16) – Club plays 18 of 24 games away from The Trop, return to discover pet manta rays had gotten into the trash.
21. Philadelphia Phillies (16-19; Previous: 22) – Phillies pitchers react strongly to Mitch Williams criticism, insist they can’t all have seamless, effortless mechanics like Mitch.
22. Seattle Mariners (16-19; Previous: 26) – Andino says he’s come to terms with being traded from Baltimore to “Alaska,” really loves manager Palin.
23. New York Mets (13-17; Previous: 20) – “Duda, Where’s My WAR?”
24. Chicago White Sox (14-18; Previous: 25) – Shoeless Joe Jackson has a Twitter account. Pretty much limits his missives to eight (unsavory) characters.
25. Los Angeles Dodgers (13-20; Previous: 18) – Mattingly, after being swept in San Francisco: “I feel better about our club walking out of here than I did walking in.” Sadly, a check of disabled list shows he was only Dodger walking out of there.
26. Los Angeles Angels (11-22; Previous: 19) – Slow start has observers wondering if Dipoto will fire Scioscia. Or if Scioscia will fire Dipoto.
27. Chicago Cubs (13-21; Previous: 28) – Cubs threaten move. Cubs fans get door.
28. Toronto Blue Jays (13-22; Previous: 23) – Blue Jays convinced Buchholz was cheating. Have no explanation for dozens of other guys who pitched against them.
29. Houston Astros (10-24; Previous: 27) – Young Astros, seeking consistency, wonder if picking first in the draft every year counts.
30. Miami Marlins (10-25; Previous: 30) – Astros are actually worse, but Marlins docked one place in rankings due to Loria Factor.
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