A recurring, mostly lame and probably worthless feature of every major (and a few minor) sports publication is the so-called Power Rankings, in which teams from different leagues and who may not have even played each other at all this year are rated in order of some undefined powerfulness by entirely subjective criteria. Now, these are obviously non-scientific and probably not meant to do anything more than entertain – it’s doubtful Gennaro Filice sees himself as writing from the Ivory Tower – but you have to question, really, what great purpose they’re serving. Everyone knows the Red Sox are better than the Tigers, so how is a bullet-point joke about Todd Jones supposed to explain the disparity?
That said, in the spirit of participation and adding to the larger conversation, we proudly introduce the inaugural edition of the 35th Street Power Rankings, in which we rank each MLB team in general order based on criteria that measure strength, power, powerfulness, powerfulocity, or whatever it is these things are supposed to measure.
1. Chicago White Sox.
2. Milwaukee Brewers. Back when they were still in the American League, Sox-Brewers was actually a decent rivalry. The two cities sit a mere ninety miles apart, yet the two haven’t played each other since 2001. Meanwhile, the Pirates are coming back to the South Side again in 2009. Some things make no sense.
3. Philadelphia Phillies. One tradition of spectating in Philadelphia is the throwing of batteries at opposing players, which begs the question not of why they would throw things at the enemy, but of how on earth did anyone actually organize that? And why batteries, of all things?
4. Seattle Mariners. Man, that is a nice city.
5 – 8. Pittsburgh Pirates, Detroit Tigers, Cleveland Indians, Baltimore Orioles. There is nothing more pure and more honest in the world than the rage of a frustrated sports fan from a dying industrial city. Nothing.
9. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. An owner who visibly loves his team, its fans and the game. A continually winning franchise built through a healthy mix of big-ticket acquisitions and in-house development. A manager with a baseball mind to match the best of them. Too bad they actually want to associate themselves with Los Angeles, arguably the worst place in the world.
10-21. Texas Rangers, Toronto Blue Jays, Kansas City Royals, Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies, Houston Astros, Florida Marlins, New York Mets, Washington Nationals, Atlanta Braves, San Diego Padres. Whatever.
22. Oakland A’s. Interesting piece of trivia: Billy Beane didn’t write Moneyball. Not a lot of people know that, even though it says so right there on the cover.
23. St. Louis Cardinals. Theoretically, there should be some kind of fraternal bond between fans of the White Sox and fans of the Cardinals, but it’s hard to like a team that (a) rode an 83-win season to a World Series title by (b) defeating a Detroit Tigers team that (c) the Sox were only marginally worse than after (d) the Good Guys themselves brutalized the Cardinals in interleague that year by scores of 20-6, 13-5, and 1-0. Also, apparently Albert Pujols is a good baseball player in some historically significant way. A Cardinals fan told me that once. And so did another. And then another.
24. Los Angeles Dodgers. Like #9, but without any of the positive organizational attributes.
25. San Francisco Giants. Not just the home of the Giants, San Francisco is also the adopted hometown of rock legends and occasional 35th Street house band Metallica. Like the Giants, Metallica were for a time the greatest. Like the Giants, Metallica also slipped into a period of unrivaled mediocrity puncuated by drug problems and a scandal here and there that defied belief by anyone outside the organization.
26. Minnesota Twins. Someone remarked recently that what Gopher State residents call “Minnesota Nice,” the rest of the nation calls “passive-aggressive behavior.” That might be a but harsh, but at the same time nothing reeks more of misdirected rage than advancing a runner from first to third.
27-28. New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox. To call it the greatest rivalry in sports would be to cheapen the words “rivalry,” “sports,” “greatest,” “the,” and “in.” Like the baseball world’s version of a bad relationship, these two deserve each other.
29. Tampa Bay Rays. Best team in baseball notions aside, the Rays are still drawing abysmal crowds (21,000 per game). How ironic that St. Petersburg threatened so many times to steal other cities‘ teams, yet once handed a club of their own they can’t (or won’t) support it.
30. Chicago Cubs. If you catch any Cubs games on television, you’ve probably noticed how many of their followers are showing up at road games. This fanatical devotion bodes well when coupled with the very real possibility of their taking the National League pennant this year, as it would be highly enjoyable to know 20,000 people made the trip to Anaheim to watch the Small Bears get murdered by a superior team in the first two games of the World Series. Or that 30,000 of them purchased walk-up playoff tickets in St. Petersburg.