Welcome to the fourth annual 30 Teams, the post in which I rank all 30 major league teams in order, from the best of the best to the most repulsively evil, according to me.
For four years I've been compiling this list. Actually, I've been doing it a lot longer than that. I just didn't have a blog back then. And if I've learned one thing in those four years of arbitrarily rating teams, it's this: I really don't give a damn about any team other than the Dodgers.
The other 29 teams are just there to help me stay interested in the event that the Dodgers aren't playing. But do I really, REALLY care whether they win when I'm rooting for them? Nope. It just feels extra good that the other team that I didn't want to win lost.
So now that THAT is out, join with me now as I try to come up with reasons why these teams are ranked where they are. It'll be fun. I promise.
This year, all of the teams will be represented with 2011 Lineage '75 minis. Because that's what I'm obsessed with these days.
By the way, I don't want to hear anything about Major League Baseball expanding its number of teams. Even for someone who scans as many cards as I do, it's a rather time-consuming pain to scan for a 30-card post, especially when I can't figure out how my new scanner auto-corrects.
OK, time for 30 Teams, the 2012 version:
1. LOS ANGELES DODGERS (2011 rank: 1st; 2010 rank: 1st; 2009 rank: 1st). Every once in awhile I try to imagine being a fan of a different team. Even for those few seconds, I feel deprived, of a colorful history, of a franchise with decades of character, of all of its successes. I know that sounds terribly patronizing and superior, but I think this is one area where that's allowed. I think I root for the best damn sports team that has ever existed. In fact, I know I do. The greatness of the Dodgers pays no mind.
2. KANSAS CITY ROYALS (2011 rank: 3rd; 2010 rank: 4th; 2009 rank: 5th): The Royals move up once again and are now entering territory that they haven't seen since the late '70s when they were actually successful. I'm counting on them eventually getting there again, or down the slide they go.
3. PITTSBURGH PIRATES (2011 rank: 4th; 2010 rank: 3rd; 2009 rank: 4th): 2011 was fun for the Pirates, wasn't it? I'm really hoping for a little more of that because I'm starting to run out of teams in the N.L. Central that I can tolerate. I've been crossing them off the list left and right lately.
4. BOSTON RED SOX (2011 rank: 2nd; 2010 rank: 2nd; 2009 rank: 3rd): The Red Sox take a bit of a drop because I was as turned off by the fried-chicken eating as everyone else. But I hope that doesn't make anyone think that I don't want Boston to beat the Yankees EVERY SINGLE DAMN TIME FOR THE REST OF RECORDED HISTORY. Because they would be wrong.
5. TEXAS RANGERS (2011 rank: 7th; 2010 rank: 13th; 2009 rank: 16th): I wasn't doing this list when I was a kid, but I probably haven't enjoyed the Rangers this much since the late 1970s. Still wish they could pitch just a little better (although Derek Holland was so impressive). But you can see they've really done some damage on this list.
6. OAKLAND A'S (2011 rank: 5th; 2010 rank: 8th; 2009 rank: 8th): I don't know why the A's are still rated this high. I still know only three players on their team and they keep trading away their pitchers. I blame it on the Jonah Hill Syndrome. Or the Paul DePodesta Syndrome. I don't know. Wait until I actually read "Moneyball." You may see a new No. 2 team.
7. DETROIT TIGERS (2011 rank: 8th; 2010 rank: 6th; 2009 rank: 7th): I really should bump these guys down for outbidding my Dodgers for the services of Prince Fielder. But Tigers history is too valuable to me to worry about offseason defeats. Besides, I didn't want to spend an entire year worrying about Fielder's weight anyway.
8. PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES (2011 rank: 9th; 2010 rank: 5th; 2009 rank: 2nd): I'm still not happy with my Plan B team for acting like the Yankees, but Philadelphia was a bit humbled last year. I like a little humble in a sports team. Move forward one space Phightin' Phils.
9. CHICAGO WHITE SOX (2011 rank: 6th; 2010 rank: 9th; 2009 rank: 11th): Lemme get this straight. Ozzie Guillen is no longer with the White Sox, but Adam Dunn still is? Lose three spaces, ChiSox.
10. BALTIMORE ORIOLES (2011 rank: 13th; 2010 rank: 17th; 2009 rank: 17th): Holy crap, the Orioles are in the Top 10. That might be a first. This is how desperate I've become in keeping the Yankees out of the playoffs. I'm putting my hopes in teams that don't even have a chance.
11. MINNESOTA TWINS (2011 rank: 10th; 2010 rank: 12th; 2009 rank: 13th): This is what happens when you ditch half your team. Who am I rooting for? A guy with a perpetual head injury and a catcher? I can't get behind teams that need name tags.
12. CINCINNATI REDS (2011 rank: 11th; 2010 rank: 10th; 2009 rank: 9th): I'm not sure why the Reds keep slipping in the rankings. But if I consult my 13-year-old self, who HATED the Reds, I'm told that they're ranked too high. So it all balances out.
13. FLORIDA MARLINS (2011 rank: 15th; 2010 rank: 14th; 2009 rank: 15th): I am very excited about the new Miami Marlins, and their remade team, and their new stadium, and their new uniforms, and the fact that "Florida" isn't in front of their name. And I'm also excited about this:
An electric neon aquarium that goes off every time a Marlin hits a home run? I hope I can get video of every Miami home run this year. Also, now you know what I want for my birthday.
14. ST. LOUIS CARDINALS (2011 rank: 12th; 2010 rank: 7th; 2009 rank: 6th): The defending champs take another tumble. Now that Tony LaRussa isn't around, I'm hoping the massive chip the team seems to have been carrying on their shoulder for the last five years has dissolved, and I can get back to rooting for one of the great teams in baseball.
15. CLEVELAND INDIANS (2011 rank: 14th; 2010 rank: 11th; 2009 rank: 12th): This is the only team for which I don't have a card that features a current player on the team. That's appropriate as not much seems to be going right for the Indians ALREADY. And the season doesn't start for like a month.
16. TORONTO BLUE JAYS (2011 rank: 17th; 2010 rank: 18th; 2009 rank: 17th): Have the Blue Jays gotten rid of black in their uniform altogether? Because if so, they might move even higher next year.
17. HOUSTON ASTROS (2011 rank: 16th; 2010 rank: 16th; 2009 rank: 14th): OK, Wandy Rodriguez. Carlos Lee. Uh ... Morgan Ensberg? No. Who else? ... God, I'm stumped. (*Looks up the Astros' website. Oh, right, Brett Wallace. ... Wait, Jed Lowrie's on the Astros?). It's hopeless. We've reached the portion of the list where I'm basing my ranking on absolutely nothing.
18. SEATTLE MARINERS (2011 rank: 18th; 2010 rank: 19th; 2009 rank: 19th): My chief interest in this team is making sure they don't ruin Jesus Montero.
19. NEW YORK METS (2011 rank: 20th; 2010 rank: 21st; 2009 rank: 21st): Remember when the Mets were invincible and beat everyone down? Now their pitching ace has been out for like 2 seasons, their outfielder runs into fences and their clean-up hitter comes down with Valley Fever. Mets move up one with the sympathy vote.
20. TAMPA BAY RAYS (2011 rank: 21st; 2010 rank: 20th; 2009 rank: 23rd): Already this ranking is in error. The Rays should be rated higher. I actually LIKE the players on this team. It's that stupid stadium.
21. MILWAUKEE BREWERS (2011 rank: 19th; 2010 rank: 15th; 2009 rank: 10th): The Brewers were slowly annoying me more and more every year. Then, just a couple weeks ago, Ryan Braun opened his mouth. Or his lawyer opened his mouth for him. Brewers plummet further. And I liked them so well three years ago. Better watch it dudes. You're only one place ahead of the Cubs now.
22. CHICAGO CUBS (2011 rank: 22nd; 2010 rank: 22nd; 2009 rank: 20th): I'm trying to picture who I'd root for in a Cubs-Braves postseason matchup. I think it would depend on how I feel in any given hour. But if a single broadcaster called the Cubs "Cubbies" that would be it. Go Braves.
23. ATLANTA BRAVES (2011 rank: 23rd; 2010 rank: 24th; 2009 rank: 24th): No sympathy vote here. I don't care what happened in 2011. But I have an open mind for this team and every team above them. The mind closes officially after this point.
24. WASHINGTON NATIONALS (2011 rank: 24th; 2010 rank: 23rd; 2009 rank: 22nd): I thought about moving the Nationals up. Then Bryce Harper flashed in front of me. Washington stays put.
25. ANGELS (2011 rank: 25th; 2010 rank: 25th; 2009 rank: 25th): Is there anyone else besides me that thinks that Gene Autry has been reincarnated as Arte Moreno? Why have the Angels been so obsessed with landing big names for the last 30-plus years?
26. COLORADO ROCKIES (2011 rank: 26th; 2010 rank: 26th; 2009 rank: 26th): The Rockies have made an awful lot of moves for this season. But I still don't consider them much of a threat. That probably has to do with the fact that the division is so difficult to figure out. But another part of it is the manager is Jim Tracy.
27. SAN DIEGO PADRES (2011 rank: 27th; 2010 rank: 27th; 2009 rank: 27th): If the Padres weren't so obsessed with beating the Dodgers, I'd call them Lovable Losers and move them up a few notches. But I can't condone that behavior.
28. ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS (2011 rank: 28th; 2010 rank: 28th; 2009 rank: 28th): Another outburst from Gerardo Parra and Arizona drops under the Yankees next year. By the way, what is with the Diamondbacks nickname? It's so clunky. Look how it has to be squeezed to fit on this card. Every other normal nickname has two vowels. Yankees. Dodgers. Red Sox. White Sox. Pirates. Phillies. Rangers, Padres, Brewers. Or even more convenient, one vowel. Reds. Braves. Twins. Rays. Only a few dare go with three vowels (Cardinals, Mariners, Indians, etc). Even the Mets had the good sense to reduce Metropolitans to "Mets" immediately. But Arizona keeps right on forcing their fans to waste extra breath saying "DI-UH-MUND-BACKS," causing people to shorten it to "D'backs," which is too easy to change to "D'bags," putting pools in right field, changing team colors less than 10 years into existence. Mistakes everywhere. ... (ok, maybe the Orioles are four vowels, too ... but it seems a lot easier to say than DIAMONDBACKS).
29. NEW YORK YANKEES (2011 rank: 28th; 2010 rank: 29th; 2009 rank: 29th): When I see this guy, I can't believe I don't have this team last. And it won't be the only time I think that during the season. It will come up multiple times. So if you see the Yankees ranked 4,549th next year, you'll know why.
30. SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS (2011 rank: 30th; 2010 rank: 30th; 2009 rank: 30th): Madison is a girl's name, right?
And that closes the 2012 edition.
As usual, you may all come up with your own lists, but this is the real one. Don't fight it.
(Other 30 Teams: 2011, 2010, 2009)