Howdy y’all! Nolesmarlins here, and it’s that time of the week again. I know your knuckles are white with excitement; so I’ll spare you from starting off with the long and blathering preamble that the bigger sites do and get on with the rankings:
1. Arizona Diamondbacks (LW: 1): They haven’t done anything to lose the # 1 spot, and no team has done anything to knock them off, so they stay up there for the second straight week.
2. Chicago Cubs (LW: 4): These guys are pretty hot right now. 8-2 in their past 10 games is impressive no matter what, even if they did just play back-to-back series against San Diego and Pittsburgh. These guys are not your Daddy’s Cubs (or your Granddaddy’s… or even your Great-Grandaddy’s).
3. Boston Red Sox (LW: 2): A big MarlinsNation congrats to Jon Lester for his no hitter last night. It is always special to see someone bounce back from adversity to acheive great things (in case you were not aware, Jon Lester was diagnosed with Lymphoma back in August, 2006). Meanwhile, the Sox have been holding off the hard charging Rays to maintain their lead in the ultra-competitive AL East. With their pitching, I’d expect nothing less.
4. St. Louis Cardinals (LW: 6): They get the nod over the Rays for the fourth spot because they took two out of three from Tampa over the weekend. Hard to argue with head to head results. By the way, who the hell is Ryan Ludwick? Flashback to May, 2001: Who the hell is Albert Pujols?
5. Tampa Bay Rays (LW: 5): No movement, but for a team like the Rays, thats good news. Now all this team needs to do to ensure respectability is get rid of that fruity yellow sparkle thing on their logos! Personally, I cannot wait until June 13… 1st of 2 Sunshine Series scheduled this year. If you call yourself a Marlins fan you should make every effort to spend that weekend in St. Pete… lets get this rivalry started finally!
6. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (LW: 8): Bounced back nicely after that sweep that Tampa handed them last week. This team should get hotter once Vlad’s bat wakes up. Pembroke Pines native and Flannigan High Alumni Mike Napoli has been a revelation at catcher for the Angels.
7. Florida Marlins (LW: 3): Take notice, when you lose games you should win repeatedly you drop in the rankings, even if the writer of these rankings is potentially biased in favor of your team. However, they still have a hold on first place in the NL East despite their recent poor run, and help is on the way with the return of Mike Jacobs, the signing of Jacque Jones, and the eventual return of Josh Willingham. If the Marlins can take it to Arizona this week they would effectively erase any psychological damage that the Cincy sweep and KC series loss may have caused. Marlin fans, your team needs you. Get off your butts and get to Dolphin Stadium this week. Prove the elitist, Red Sox Nation promoting nimrods at ESPN that Marlin fans are just as passionate as anyone else.
8. Cleveland Indians (LW: 11): Ran into the brick wall that has been recently constructed in Cincinnati, but their starting pitching has really excelled. Their rotation seems poised to lead this team back to the top of the division pretty quickly. Just ask Oakland…
9. Houston Astros (LW: 13): Lance Berkman is about as hot as any slugger can get right now. Miguel Tejada is starting to turn out to be one of the best aquisitions of the offseason, steroid cloud or no. Along with Carlos Lee, these guys constitute one of the most dangerous lineups in baseball. Hunter Pence is starting to bust out of his season-long slump… things are looking pretty good in Houston right now. “There is no way this streak will last. Not a fart’s chance in a hurricane”… umm yeah, good call there, Noles. However, I am still not convinced… so please hold that steaming hot plate of roasted crow with extra crow sauce in the oven for another week or two for me.
10. Baltimore Orioles (LW: 16): Millar says that the Orioles are preparing to shock the world. We Marlin fans are all too familiar with the ridiculous bombast that is Kevin Millar, yet the O’s keep on winning. Honestly, a very small part of me is pulling for them. Why? Because they aren’t the Red Sox, Yankees, or Rays, and they aren’t from Canada. It’s a process of elimination/lesser of two (or in this case, five) evils thing… kinda like when I voted for John Kerry only because he wasn’t George Bush.
11. New York Mets (LW: 14): Looks like they finally figured out how to beat the Yankees. As if that was difficult to do this year… I don’t care how much money you have or how big your market is or who you sign, if you cannot develop your own pitchers you will not go anywhere in this day and age. The Mets are a perfect example.
12. Los Angeles Dodgers (LW: 10): Andruw Jones figures to be out for a couple of months due to arthroscopic knee surgery… and that is a good thing for them considering how crappy he has been playing. Furcal is coming back soon, hopefully for the boys in blue he will pick up right where he left off. That shouldn’t be too difficult, as the Dodgers play in the same division as the Rox, Pads, and Giants.
13. Chicago White Sox (LW: 18): So they return to first after all. A nice five game winning streak has been the culprit, but keep in mind that three of those five games were against the woeful Giants and they have a three game series against Cleveland coming up, so the good times may be relatively short lived. However, if they can overcome that vaunted Cleveland rotation they could be making a big statement. Unfortunately for the Pale Hosers, the chances of winning more than one game against the Indians are pretty slim.
14. Philadelphia Phillies (LW: 9): Last week, the Phillies were in second place and only 1.5 games behind the Marlins. This past week, the Marlins went 1-4 against the Reds and the Royals. Did the Phillies take advantage and beat up on the mediocre Blue Jays in their own stadium this weekend to vault into first? NO. The Phillies pholded, and still remain 1.5 games behind the Fish, only now they are in third place in the NL East. It looks like their big opportunity to finally seize control of the division just phlew out the window… hence the 5 point phall in the rankings.
15. Oakland Athletics (LW: 7): Now that’s more like it.
16. Atlanta Braves (LW: 15): Still hanging in there, but the more the season progresses, the more obvious it appears that this isn’t the Braves’ year… yet again. John Smoltz looks to be at the end of his career. Just one question: Whats up with Atlanta scouts and Curacao? Now Jair Jurrjens emerges for them…
17. Toronto Blue Jays (LW: 21): Nothing like a phonebooth of a ballpark to wake up the bats… we knew they had pitching, but I had to laugh when they made Philly their b*tches in their own stadium. Thanks, Toronto, from all of us here at MarlinsNation.
18. Kansas City Royals (LW: 24): Maybe, just maybe, the Royals are coming together for a big run for the first time in a decade and a half. They play in a weak division, and have won EVERY SINGLE GAME they have played against the Tigers this year (6-0). They probably won’t beat out Cleveland for the division, but the AL wild card is most definately in play. Look at it this way… who do they have to beat out for the card this year? Tampa? Oakland? Chicago? Baltimore? Yeah, Tampa has been great so far, but this is Tampa we are talking about. Tam-pa. As in the poor man’s Miami. As in the team that has never won more than 70 in a season in their entire history… You get the point. It is certainly possible; a small window of opportunity may have just opened up for this franchise. You cannot deny the quality of this team’s pitching, especially in the bullpen. Alex Gordon is for real, and Jose Guillen is playing very well. So, don’t be too shocked if they happen to pull it off… because you heard it here first. No, I’m not predicting it will happen, I’m just saying it could happen.
19. Cincinnati Reds (LW: 26): Not there yet, but you can see some potential starting to develop here. This has been a long-dormant franchise; it’s about time they show some life. Their sweep-on-a-technicality over the Marlins followed by their for-real sweep over the Indians, while impressive, probably represents the high water mark of the season for the Reds.
20. Minnesota Twins (LW: 12): See Oakland.
21. New York Yankees (LW: 17): Wow, that must be embarrassing. I’d want to shoot myself if I were a die hard Yankee fan living in New York right now… the crap those guys are receiving from Mets fans must be brutal. But you know what? These guys deserve it. If you own a team, and you drop close to $300 million George Washingtons on one stinkin’ player, and you DON’T win, you deserve everything you get. No, Yankees fans, this year there is NO chance you make the playoffs. NONE AT ALL. John McCain has a bigger chance of winning Illinois in November than the Yankees have making it to October.
22. Pittsburgh Pirates (LW: 23): Finally, after all these years wandering in the forest of mediocrity and the valley of despair, this team may have found something concrete to build around: Nate McLouth. That is the best news for Pittsburgh since 1993. Arggg, matey!
23. Milwaukee Brewers (LW: 18): Prince better wake up, or else he isn’t getting that 9 figure contract from the Mets/Yankees that he covets so badly. And I’m all for players being loyal to a team, it’s very unfortunate that the John Smoltzs and Trevor Hoffmans and Barry Larkins of the baseball world are so rare nowadays, but what the hell was Ryan Braun thinking when he signed on to play for 8 years… in Milwaukee. A team that hasn’t won a darn thing for pretty much ever. At a discount. Well, whatever floats your boat I guess… If he is happy, good. He deserves it, and so do the long suffering Milwaukee fans. I won’t hate. But it still doesn’t make much sense for Braun. Thats just my opinion.
24. Texas Rangers (LW: 25): Can someone please explain to me why Cincy let Josh Hamilton go? Can someone also explain to me why it is that Texas has never aquired or developed a decent pitcher other than Nolan Ryan? Maybe they have had some in the past (Kenny Rogers and Kevin Brown come to mind), but they never did anything with them so who cares. It’s not the heat, Rangers fans… it’s hotter in Miami, and we figure out a way to pitch here. It’s the front office, and it doesn’t matter which ownership group we are talking about. Look at it this way, George Bush owned your team at one time. He traded away Sammy Sosa when he was young(a hitter but the point had to be made). Tom Hicks owns your team now. Just ask Liverpool fans over in England how they feel about Hicks. My advice, get a new owner… who isn’t from Texas… and find a way to build a retractable roof over your stadium.
25. Detroit Tigers (LW: 20): They legitimately suck, and I’m glad. This is no fluke anymore. Call it the curse of the Maybin.
26. Colorado Rockies (LW: 22): Now they are thinking about trading Matt Holiday. Shut up and sign him, Colorado. You guys have the money, and you don’t develop a guy with that kind of bat everyday… even at 5,000 feet in the air. Trading Holiday sounds a little too reactionary to a bad start… this team did make the World Series last year. Mark my words, they will regret it if they let him go.
27. Seattle Mariners (LW: 27): And I thought that the Bedard aquisition gave them a legitimate shot to win the division this year.
28. Washington Nationals (LW: 30): They have had an ok run of late, so I’ll be nice and move them up out of the last slot. But there are few things more pathetic in this world than the weeknight crowds at their new stadium.
29. San Francisco Giants (LW: 28): This team desperately needs a sense of direction post-Barry Bonds. They thought they had it with pitching, but when you give a nonsensical contract to a slightly-better-than-mediocre pitcher (and that was before Zito crossed SF Bay) and don’t sign or develop ANY decent hitters you aren’t going to win any games.
30. San Diego Padres (LW: 29): Very similar problems to San Fran, other than the Bonds thing… but even worse. Gulliver Prep’s JV team has more offense than these guys. Last year, their pitching was their saving grace. Not gonna cut the mustard anymore.
Well, thats it for this week. I apologize for any spelling or gramatical errors, this blog’s spell checker does not appear to be working on my computer.