April 7, 2008
By Tom Singer / MLB.com
Nothing like an opening week that ended with Baltimore and Florida on top and the Red Sox and the Phillies at the bottom to remind everyone, including the MLB.com voting board, that baseball is to predictability what fast foods are to dieting.
How confounding was the liftoff action? Two teams -- the Indians and the Mets -- had "perfect" ballots, receiving votes for every place first through 10th. Or, as we say in the polling business, "Bingo!"
If novelist Joan Didion has been awaiting inspiration for a sequel to her '60s "Panic In Needle Park," it's here: "Panic In Comerica Park" is begging to be written after the Tigers' opening week. Not coincidentally, a lot of our voters hopped aboard the chariot; isn't that a Royal bandwagon?
(Incidentally, mindful of Boston's perch and the Blue Jays' absence despite the weekend developments in Toronto, this is a good time to point out that ballots are submitted prior to Friday's games, as will be the case throughout the season.)
1. Boston Red Sox (27-378)
Summing up the Red Sox's year so far: living out of suitcases, turning into nutcases. And a little Jays-pecked. Now they get to unpack with, as Mariners reporter Jim Street points out, a new layer of celebrity: "Hall of Fame officials request all of the players' passports for special 'Around the World in 20 Days' display in Cooperstown."
Last week: 1 (26-321)
2. Los Angeles Angels (210)
News item: Club owner treats about three dozen fans to freebies at team store. Reaction: This must be the pilot for yet another reality show, "Arte Moreno's Souvenir Shop Sweep."
Last week: 6 (146)
3. Cleveland Indians (2-205)
Now, if they could just get some contributions from that Sabathia guy.
Last week: 3 (1-257)
4. New York Yankees (191)
So far, the touted youth-oriented rotation has been a Wang-man gang.
Last week: 5 (156)
5. New York Mets (165)
New Pedro Martinez yell: "Who's your doctor?"
Last week: 4 (189)
6. Kansas City Royals (5-108)
Kansas City reporter Dick Kaegel says, "We're starting on the playoff seating chart immediately." To allay Dick's concerns about coming off as a homer, we would like to point out that 21 of this week's 34 voters had the Royals on their ballots, not counting Astros reporter Alyson Footer's vote of "[Manager Trey] Hillman for president."
Last week: NR (0)
7. Detroit Tigers (96)
Seem to have fallen slightly off that predicted 1,000-runs pace. In all seriousness, Detroit's unexpected start has merely accentuated the importance of Curtis Granderson, sidelined with a broken bone in his right hand.
Last week: 2 (8-291)
8. San Diego Padres (91)
Jake Peavy: Two starts into celebrating the 40th anniversary of Bob Gibson's 1968 landmark season (the one with the 1.12 ERA) by repeating it. Meanwhile, Padres reporter Corey Brock has detected a new PETCO Park rally cry: "We love you Trevor, no we hate you. Wait, we take it all back, we love you! No we don't."
Last week: NR (13)
9. Seattle Mariners (89)
The M's are feeling great after the first time around the rotation (10 earned runs in 29 innings).
Last week: 10 (73)
10. Los Angeles Dodgers (74)
Here is something a guy who formerly managed a team called the Bombers might take some time getting used to: Through five games, the Dodgers had as many rain delays as home runs, one each. West executive editor John Schlegel still likes the combination: "Hollywood's team has a strong cast, and Joe Torre might be the Scorcese of managers."
Last week: 13 (23)
11. Arizona Diamondbacks (70)
Overall pitching may be even better than advertised, and Randy Johnson is still in the hole. An erratic return by the Big Unit may be the only thing that keeps the NL West from being a Big Runaway.
Last week: 7 (112)
12. Milwaukee Brewers (54)
Milwaukee fans are keeping their fingers and bratwursts crossed that Ben Sheets (15 1/3 innings, zip runs) stays healthy.
Last week: 15 (15)
13. Washington Nationals (50)
Still a lot of curiosity in the eventual direction of the highly competitive Nats: five one-run games already, but three of them losses.
Last year: NR (0)
14. Cincinnati Reds (35)
Edinson Volquez and Johnny Cueto: Cincinnati hasn't been this excited about anything since Sparky Anderson's hair started turning white.
Last week: NR (0)
15. Chicago Cubs (29)
What a great week on the North Side, for both outfielders from Japan and fans in exile. As Cubs reporter Carrie Muskat points out, "Fukudome fever is catching." And Moises Alou admits he couldn't have caught that foul ball, even if Steve Bartman hadn't touched it.
Last week: 11 (72)
Others receiving votes: Rockies (24), Phillies (15), Blue Jays (15), Braves (7), Cardinals (6), Rays (1).
Dropped out: Rockies (No. 8), Phillies (No. 9), Braves (No. 12), Blue Jays (No. 14).