A new No. 1, same old No. 30. Week 18:
1. New York Yankees (62-39; Previous: 2) – Yanks threaten Dodgers for best record in game, Hal checks notes Pops left in desk for ideas on something to criticize.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers (62-39; Previous: 1) – Manny sits out a few games with bruised hand, tells Torre he'll be available again on Manny Lunch Box Night.
3. Los Angeles Angels (60-40; Previous: 3) – Just a few months into 10-year extension, Scioscia calls Pope for tips on staying fresh and motivated.
4. Philadelphia Phillies (58-41; Previous: 5) – Hold Holliday to .636 batting average during series against Cards, pretty sure Lee could do better with right arm.
5. Boston Red Sox (58-42; Previous: 4) – Epstein, hoping to make Smoltz feel more at home, flies in Maddux and Glavine for between-starts golf.
6. Texas Rangers (56-43; Previous: 6) – Oh sure, now Hicks runs out of money. Perfect.
7. Tampa Bay Rays (55-47; Previous: 7) – GM Friedman sweetens deal with Toronto, says if he gets Halladay he'll change team name to Devil Roys.
8. San Francisco Giants (55-46; Previous: 8) – Bonds attends game against Pirates, sits in front row, draws two walks, tests clean.
9. St. Louis Cardinals (56-48; Previous: 12) – Holliday acquired to protect Pujols, throws pushy first-base umpire into full nelson.
10. Colorado Rockies (54-46; Previous: 9) – Rockies add sixth Venezuelan to roster, alter logo to read, "Bolivarian Republic of Colorado," back Tracy in next big election.
11. Chicago Cubs (53-46; Previous: 14) – Lilly goes to DL for sore shoulder, while there gets knee surgery, eyebrow wax, is tented for possible termite infestation.
12. Detroit Tigers (53-47; Previous: 11) – Porcello doesn't like to cover first base; Leyland considers either petitioning league to allow team to play pitcher's hand or kicking Porcello really hard in rear end. Several times.
13. Seattle Mariners (53-48; Previous: 10) – Team execs put Bedard on DL, amused to discover he was fine and they'd simply acted out of habit.
14. Florida Marlins (53-48; Previous: 16) – Fish move into second place, way ahead of Mets, think maybe Omar should have hired agate clerk from Reporter Dispatch a long time ago.
15. Chicago White Sox (51-51; Previous: 13) – So, Buehrle is perfect. Wife finds that soooooo ironic.
16. Houston Astros (51-50; Previous: 15) – It's getting unbearably hot in Houston again, or as the locals refer to it, 'Time to start thinking about the Astros.'
17. Atlanta Braves (51-50; Previous: 17) – Hanson blames sore throat for losing 12 pounds, strangely all 12 from left calf.
18. Minnesota Twins (52-50; Previous: 19) – Twins fend off Buehrle, remind everyone there was only one perfect man. Mauer, of course.
19. New York Mets (48-51; Previous: 21) – Omar says he was misunderstood in press conference, meant to look condescendingly at writers, dismiss questions as silly and uninformed.
20. Milwaukee Brewers (50-51; Previous: 18) – Suppan hammered by Pittsburgh and Washington, thinks he really matches up better against Padres, could totally beat them.
21. Toronto Blue Jays (49-53; Previous: 20) – Halladay holes up in room on off day, plays MLB 2K9, trades self to Red Sox.
22. Cincinnati Reds (45-55; Previous: 22) – Fifth Red of season has surgery, qualifies them for free shoulder 'scope next time through.
23. Oakland A's (43-57; Previous: 25) – A's strongly considering six-man rotation, because, you know, there's no way you can break up this juggernaut.
24. Arizona Diamondbacks (44-58; Previous: 26) – D'backs consider trading Qualls, worried Scrabble score will suffer at winter meetings.
25. Pittsburgh Pirates (43-58; Previous: 23) – Bucs host Nats this weekend, still deciding if they'll bother to open ballpark doors.
26. Baltimore Orioles (43-57; Previous: 24) – Tillman debuts, credited with four wins based on hype, desperate fawning alone.
27. Cleveland Indians (42-60; Previous: 28) – Running out of former Indians Cy Young Award winners to trade, Shapiro talks Nats into taking Gaylord Perry for two mid-level prospects.
28. Kansas City Royals (40-60; Previous: 27) – Royals wonder where they'd be without Greinke, conclude, yeah, about where we are right now.
29. San Diego Padres (40-62; Previous: 29) – Moores' divorce worse than expected, suspects ex took Padres' offense purely out of spite.
30. Washington Nationals (32-69; Previous: 30) – Independent Fort Worth Cats call Strasburg, request cap, inseam sizes, save place in team photo.