There's always something special about a season's first power rankings. This year, it's the promise of many, many more weeks of Jeffrey Loria jokes.
The rankings (records and previous rankings reflect end of 2012 regular season):
1. Washington Nationals (98-64; Previous: 1) – Late-spring decision for Soriano was to return immediately to Viera, Fla., or undergo root canal. Tooth healing just fine.
2. San Francisco Giants (94-68; Previous: 4) – Giants a tighter unit in second championship season despite absence of rally thong. Oh, irony…
3. Los Angeles Angels (89-73; Previous: 10) – Clubhouse pool sets odds on whether Hamilton is booed in Texas. And that's just at airport and hotel.
4. Detroit Tigers (88-74; Previous: 11) – Miggy sets out to improve on Triple Crown, to usual categories adds "Most Fly Walk-up Song."
5. Cincinnati Reds (97-65; Previous: 5) – Reds finally decide on Chapman role; he'll be Dorothy in stage version of "Wizard of Oz."
6. Los Angeles Dodgers (86-76; Previous: 14) – Magic tells Dodgers to embrace the expectations. Dodgers give them a man-hug and some dap, 'cause it's just creepy the other way.
7. Tampa Bay Rays (90-72; Previous: 9) – Slight problem at end of camp: One of Rodney's imaginary arrows glances off light stanchion and plunges into GM Friedman's BlackBerry.
8. Toronto Blue Jays (73-89; Previous: 21) – Ontario makes exception for Buehrle, who'll be allowed to keep pit bulls in umpires' room.
9. Atlanta Braves (94-68; Previous: 6) – Fredi Gonzalez tells Uptons that if they can't stop noodging each other he'll have to separate them in the lineup.
10. Baltimore Orioles (93-69; Previous: 7) – In effort to lighten tensions over Sept. 5 schedule conflict, Showalter promises to open game with rigorous ritual dance and mouthful of sod.
11. Texas Rangers (93-69; Previous: 8) – Confusion reigns at start of spring training game when club realizes Nolan Ryan took all the balls and went home.
12. Oakland Athletics (94-68; Previous: 3) – Owner Lew Wolff comes to camp, gets in a little batting practice. Takes five to right, five to center, and one to San Jose.
13. New York Yankees (95-67; Previous: 2) – Yankees petition league to push back opening day, just so, "You know, we can get ourselves together here a little bit."
14. St. Louis Cardinals (88-74; Previous: 12) – Rzepczynski hits self in eye with golf ball, misses time, requires new lens prescription and, worst of all, fails to acknowledge penalty stroke.
15. Philadelphia Phillies (81-81; Previous: 16) – Phillies' affiliate announces "Urinal Gaming System," players wonder if that's how the "P" got on their caps.
16. Arizona Diamondbacks (81-81; Previous: 17) – The D'backs are so gritty they hook slide into the on-deck circle. They're so gritty they pine tar their girlfriends before and after dates. They're so gritty they almost made Gibson smile. Yeah, you get the idea.
17. Cleveland Indians (68-94; Previous: 27) – Prospect Bauer returns to minors with a plan to, he said, rewrite his "neuromuscular programs." Other demoted guy somewhat embarrassed by his plan to "get better."
18. Kansas City Royals (72-90; Previous: 22) – Jeremy Guthrie owns so many sneakers he keeps them in his own "shoe-seum." We offer the Metropolitan Museum of Arch. The Nike du Louvre. The Shoe-genheim. The Kicksonian. The Vans-ican Museums.
19. Chicago White Sox (85-77; Previous: 13) – GM Hahn predicts of AL Central: "Nobody will run away and hide from anybody." No, there'd be little to gain in that.
20. Boston Red Sox (69-93; Previous: 25) – Edgy Sox fans decide Caroline not really so sweet. In fact, she's kind of manipulative.
21. Milwaukee Brewers (83-79; Previous: 15) – Brewers sign Lohse because they needed a quality starter, some innings, a veteran's presence and depth. Also, honestly, they were starting to feel a little sorry for the guy.
22. San Diego Padres (76-86; Previous: 19) – Padres hoping to surprise some people. Thinking maybe a nice locket or a weekend getaway.
23. Seattle Mariners (75-87; Previous: 20) – Mariners explain to fans that Felix Hernandez's $175 million contract could bring changes to ballpark pricing. In fact, in order to come to park you'll have to be Felix Hernandez.
24. Pittsburgh Pirates (79-83; Previous: 18) – Russell Martin throws out one of first 11 base stealers of spring, wonders what people could have expected from a converted shortstop.
25. Chicago Cubs (61-101; Previous: 29) – Samardzija clarifies story he "dumped" girlfriend to further focus on being a better starting pitcher. In actuality, he released her.
26. New York Mets (74-88; Previous: 23) – After wiping out Nazism, anarchism, international terrorism and technocratic fascism, Captain America felled by World Baseball Classic.
27. Colorado Rockies (64-98; Previous: 28) – Forbes says Rockies 25th most valuable franchise. Always assumed the dollar carried farther there.
28. Minnesota Twins (66-96; Previous: 26) – GM Ryan says he and manager Gardenhire are "joined at the hip." While great for job security, it's a bit awkward during pitching changes.
29. Miami Marlins (69-93; Previous: 24) – Buy a ticket for opening day and receive a free ticket to another game. Or, just drive by Marlins Park and throw loose change into Jeffrey Loria's mouth.
30. Houston Astros (55-107; Previous: 30) – Owner Crane says folks who believe payroll should be higher are welcome to "write a check for 10 million bucks." Folks ask, "Wait, isn't that your job?"
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