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Ahh, the smell of fresh cut grass. The sounds of ball meeting bat. "I got it" and "Yours" being heard all around the fields. Needles meeting butts in a last ditch effort to get an performance enhancing edge.
Wait, scratch that last one.
But it's that time of year again. The winter is fleeting and long, sunny days are  upon us. Get out your peanuts and crackerjacks. The stench of sweat and the stickiness of pine tar is all around. The glisten of sun reminds us of the beginning of the dog days of summer. So dust off your glove, shine your cleats, and don't throw out your arm. Our National Pastime is back. 
It is still only the first week of pitchers and catchers reporting to camp but it is never to early to rank all 30 MLB teams. Quick, get your shot of B12 and lie to Congress. Tell them you misremembered or your wife did it. Hell, tell them you are not here to talk about the past. Do whatever you have to do because the first spring training games are just days away and we all would like to know which teams are studs and which teams are duds.
1. Boston Red Sox I don't know about you but I am excited for the return of Curt Schilling's blog. I have missed his whining all winter long. But just wait until he gets replaced in the rotation by Clay Bucholz mid-season. In a summer of presidential elections, Curt will become our favorite loud mouth Republican.
2. Detroit Tigers Rumor is Miguel Cabrera is looking for a contract extension to stay in Detroit. Taco and burrito stand owners around Detroit are rejoicing.
3. New York Mets The historic yet hideous Shea Stadium is in its final year of existence. But rest assure Mets  fans, new Citi Field will be right next door. This way you can still feel like "you're riding through Beirut next to some kid with purple hair, next to some queer with AIDS, right next to some dude who just got out of jail for the fourth time, right next to some 20-year-old mom with four kids" when your on the 7 train.
Evidently, the nickname of Orlando Hernandez"El Duque" has nothing to do with his being a former Spanish Duke (he's not) but was a nickname that his teammates gave to his Anaconda-size pen!s. So if the Mets make the World Series and Hernandez gets to pitch, that will be me giggling every time Joe Buck says, "El Duque's slinging heat tonight."
4. New York Yankees There was a bus recently driving into the Yankees complex in Tampa. It showed up 2 hours late for the first day of spring training. Apparently the bus couldn't move any faster than 5 mph because Roger Clemens was busy throwing more people under it.
5. Cleveland Indians  The Indians have always been lovable losers. From the Major League movie trio to being one Jose Mesa pitch away from a World Series title in 1997, Cleveland has never won. But now they have gone and pissed everyone off. They have changed Jacobs Field to Progressive Field. This makes me long for the days of Pedro Cerrano and Jobu. In an related move the Indians are trying to bring back RF Pedro Cerrano but word is his State Farm Insurance won't cover him his disgraceful cuts at curve-balls.
6. Philadelphia Phillies Dear City of Philadelphia, When your Phillies blow a couple game lead to the Mets late in the summer we highly encourage the throwing of batteries at said players. In fact, we also encourage the booing of any injured player. Ahh, that's better. Now at least some normalcy will be back in Philadelphia this summer instead of last year's winning of a division title.
7. Los Angeles Angels If only I could be Gary Matthews, Jr. I'd make obscene amounts of money despite low production and ample time on the bench. And for those new to baseball Angels infielder Chone Figgins first name is apparently pronounced "Shawn". Go figure.
8. Chicago Cubs Cubs fans have a reason to be excited this year. The team sign that curse word Fukodome to play RF and they even made the playoffs last year. But closer Ryan Dempster has predicted the Cubs will end their 100 year draught and finally win the World Series. In related news, Dempster has been known to lie and Cubs fans have been known to be suckers if they believe him.
9. Seattle Mariners Richie Sexson told the Seattle Post-Intelligence that fans shouldn't boo his performance. But the M's are paying him $15.5 million and he only bats .205. Just my advice but I wouldn't exactly pick that battle Richie. Just saying.
10. Colorado Rockies I remember when the Colorado Rockies were first invented. I was in middle school. They had these new cool looking uniforms: black and purple. They had a sweet new ballpark, Coors Field and the Blake Street Bombers who hit a ton of home runs. They were pimp. But they always lacked one thing: pitching. 15 years later that has not changed. They are the defending National League Champions but people on the east coast still think of this team as a triple-a team. Quick prediction. The Rockies will repeat as NL Champions and Ron Paul will win  the presidency.
11. Los Angeles Dodgers It feels weird to see Joe Torre in Dodger Blue. Wait, scratch that. We are all used to seeing old, overweight managers with large guts hanging over their belt buckle in a Dodger uniform. See: Lasorda, Tommy.
12. Toronto Blue Jays If you are Blue Jays GM JP Ricardi, What do you do with one aging, over the hill, often injured, former all star third baseman (Troy Glaus)? Easy. Trade him away from an aging, over the hill, often injured, former all star third baseman (Scott Rolen).
13. Arizona Diamondbacks With the Human Crash Test Dummy patrolling left field for the Snakes, you never know what kind of crazy play Eric Byrnes may make. He is to the Dbacks what Chris Farley was to comedy: All out recklessness. He will get hurt. He will run someone over. He will dive head first into a wall. Why aren't there more players like this?
14. San Diego Padres And Greg Maddux is back for his 67th season. And to celebrate the Pads signed Jim Edmonds in the off-season. They don't call them the Fathers for nothing.
15. Atlanta Braves The Braves two top pitchers are 41 and 42 years old. So what does Bobby Cox do, bring in Mike Hampton you say? Absolutely. There is only one way to sure up an aging pitching rotation. Bring in the youthful, never injured, and inexpensive Mike Hampton. And Bobby Cox had the nerve to say that Hampton may be a front of the rotation pitcher after only throwing one inning in the Mexican League last year. Good luck with that Atl.
16. Milwaukee Brewers The Brewers had a remarkable 2007 before fading late and missing the playoffs. Ben Sheets only tossed 141 innings and Rickie Weeks was mostly injured. But don't fear Brewer fans. Eric Gagne has been added. If that's not bad enough, then just go to Miller Park, drink yourself silly, and watch the wiener race during the middle of the fifth. Well worth the price of admission.
17. St. Louis Cardinals  Now batting, Albert Pujols (pronounced Poo Holes). #5? Shouldn't Poo Holes be #2? But seriously, if you don't watch baseball (you are probably a communist), you've probably never heard of Poo Holes. That's a shame because he is a class act.
(by baseball standards a class act is a guy who hasn't beaten his wife or been charged with any felonies as of the writing of this column).
18. Chicago White Sox Ozzie Guillen starts the year on the &$%#@ hot seat. He says his team can't hit for %^&$ and that his pitching staff $%^#*@ stinks. The umpires miss every god %^&$ call and his bullpen %^$&@ so much that he constantly has to $%^#*@ curse them off. It's so nice to have Ozzie back.
19. Minnesota Twins The Twins failed to get NYM outfield prospect Fernando Martinez in their trade for Johan Santana. The reason the Twins gave was that Martinez lack superior vision in the outfield to get a good jump on the ball. That's funny, that never stopped Kirby Puckett. What? Too soon?
20. Cincinnati Reds It's a good thing new Reds Manager Dusty Baker is used to losing. With players like Scott Hatteberg and David Ross in the everyday lineup, Pete Rose would certainly place a grand on the visiting team.
21. Houston Astros The Astros traded for veteran Miguel Tejada in the off-season. He will play a big part in developing some of the Astros younger middle infielders. He will be able to offer tips on fielding, throwing, and inserting.
22. Tampa Bay Rays This year, Tampa Bay has shortened their name from the Devil Rays to the Rays. They have  changed logos from a dark green devil ray to a blue and yellow sunburst/baseball diamond. Unfortunately, the only thing not to change for the better is their same mediocre lineup as last year.
In a related story, Spiderman will be sponsoring the new Rays stadium.
23. Oakland Athletics Billy Beane believes in money-ball and not signing players to large contracts. Hence the reasons he has let go of Miguel Tejada, Jason Giambi, Mark Mulder, Tim Hudson, etc. Unfortunately he now also believes in a tried and true Yankee philosophy because he has recently signed old timers Keith Foulke and Mike Sweeney.
24. Washington Nationals Quick, name 2 Washington National players? Exactly.
25. San Francisco Giants Now that Barry Bonds and his Head are gone from the SF clubhouse, there will be much more room for players, coaches, and trainers to operate. Also, the SF media will not have to "enter with caution" like they have had to in the last few years for fear of the wrath of Bonds. In a related story, since Bonds is gone Pedro Gomez has been forced to retire.
26. Texas Rangers  I would ordinarily not put Walker Texas Ranger this low at 26, but he made no good off-season moves and I just think that the cancellation of his show has set him back years. That and the fact that the Rangers top 3 starters boasted a combined 5.79 ERA last season.
27. Kansas City Royals Kansas City picked 27th? A whole 3 spots in front of last place. Congratulations KC, you are definitely moving up in the world.
28. Pittsburgh Pirates The Pirates are a proud franchise. Honus Wagner, Bill Mazeroski, Roberto Clemente, and Willie Stargell are all Hall of Famers. The 1979 "We are Family" Pirates are legendary. But when your current day starting lineup includes Nyjer Morgan and Jose Bautista, we all know the sad truth in Pittsburgh: They have been rebuilding since '95.
29. Baltimore Orioles Trade away your most prolific offensive player. Check. Trade away your young, lefty, ace pitcher. Check. Still have annoyingly, stingy owner. Check. Bring in star studded prospect and quickly make him get rid of his facial hair because of a club rule. Check. Alienate your fan base. Check. Have thousands of empty seats at perhaps the best ballpark in the game. Check. Anyone else you want to piss, Peter Angelos?