Most frequent phrase heard on Wednesday's International Talk Like a Pirate Day: "Damn, what happened?"
The rankings (records through Wednesday's games):
1. Washington Nationals (90-58; Previous: 1) – Nats headed to Washington baseball's first postseason appearance since FDR was in office. Little-known fact: FDR frequently referred to his election results as "Curly W's."
2. Cincinnati Reds (90-59; Previous: 2) – Reds study Usain Bolt video for ideas on how to pimp last few games of regular season.
3. Texas Rangers (88-60; Previous: 3) – Bad news is Hamilton needed another test, this time for his knee. Good news is his frequent MRI card shows next one is free.
4. San Francisco Giants (86-63; Previous: 4) – Reality-show contestant and former Giant Jeff Kent admits the scheming teammates, massive egos, thunderous personality storms and outright cheating took a lot out of him. Said "Survivor" wasn't so easy, either.
5. Baltimore Orioles (85-64; Previous: 5) – Showalter keeps clubhouse confident and upbeat with shadow hand puppet shows during rain delays.
6. Atlanta Braves (86-64; Previous: 6) – Chipper gets box of sausages from Brewers as going-away gift. Reminds himself never to make a joke in Milwaukee again.
7. New York Yankees (85-63; Previous: 8) – After argument with reporter, irate Girardi admits pen mightier than sword, but perhaps only a pick 'em vs. binder.
8. Oakland Athletics (84-64; Previous: 7) – Screenwriters for "Moneyball II" already considering ways to write around 2012 pitching staff.
9. Chicago White Sox (81-67; Previous: 13) – Youk so thrilled to be in Chicago he asks teammates to pinch him. Finds one can be alone even in small, crowded clubhouse.
10. Los Angeles Angels (81-68; Previous: 10) – Arte Moreno beginning to think he'll regret that long-term, big-money contract for Rally Monkey.
11. Tampa Bay Rays (79-70; Previous: 9) – Maddon compares down-on-luck offense to country song. For Rays fans, we might go with, "I'm Sorry I Made You Cry, But at Least Your Face is Cleaner."
12. Detroit Tigers (79-69; Previous: 14) – Leyland says "It would blow my mind" if Cabrera doesn't win MVP. Clubbies wonder if that will stain the carpet.
13. St. Louis Cardinals (79-70; Previous: 12) – Carpenter gives removed rib piece to daughter. Daughter smiles, thinks, "Ick."
14. Milwaukee Brewers (76-72; Previous: 19) – Brewers will finish season with two winning months, yet in wild card contention. Decide Bud Selig is earning that statue.
15. Los Angeles Dodgers (77-72; Previous: 11) – September arrives, Matt Kemp shifts into Least Mode.
16. Philadelphia Phillies (75-74; Previous: 16) – Looks like the Phillies might be running out of season. On the bright side, at least they're running out something.
17. Arizona Diamondbacks (74-74; Previous: 17) – Umpire Jim Joyce, after heroically resuscitating fallen Dbacks' employee, insists to club management he's not capable of performing CPR on entire season.
18. Pittsburgh Pirates (74-74; Previous: 10) – McCutchen, in race for NL batting title, can't believe how consistent Melky has been.
19. San Diego Padres (71-78; Previous: 21) – Padres masher takes lead in NL RBI, leaving rest of league's sluggers to chase Headley.
20. Seattle Mariners (70-80; Previous: 18) – Notorious hacker Miguel Olivo walked three times Wednesday night, figures he's now covered for all of next season.
21. Kansas City Royals (67-81; Previous: 22) – Underage binge drinking becomes a problem at Royals games. Sad. Says right on sign: In order to purchase alcohol, you must have seen a Royals playoff game.
22. Boston Red Sox (68-82; Previous: 23) – Bobby V points out club has the worst September roster in baseball history. This is unusually comforting to the Houston Astros.
23. Toronto Blue Jays (66-81; Previous: 24) – Yunel Escobar dust-up proves once again that if you have nothing nice to say, write it on your face.
24. New York Mets (66-82; Previous: 20) – Three things Mets fans can still root for: A) Beneficial September experience for younger players; B) R.A. Dickey for Cy Young; C) An incident-free fourth-quarter kneel-down.
25. Miami Marlins (66-84; Previous: 25) – Ozzie responds to those who say he could be too volatile to continue managing Marlins by going on profane Twitter rant.
26. Minnesota Twins (62-87; Previous: 28) – Twins decide they need more innings from their starters. First through sixth would be good.
27. Cleveland Indians (61-88; Previous: 27) – Seeking way out of Cleveland, closer Chris Perez evidently decides best tactic is to channel Bobby Valentine.
28. Colorado Rockies (58-90; Previous: 26) – Rockies to produce study on ballpark/atmospheric influences on pitching. Maybe they should call it the yearbook.
29. Chicago Cubs (58-91; Previous: 29) – Ballpark interaction leaves Ricketts with impression fans on board with team direction. He should probably get out of his suite more.
30. Houston Astros (48-101; Previous: 30) – Lowrie comes off DL after two months. Missed 11 wins.
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