Welcome again to the Night Owl Cards ranking studios.
This is the seventh annual edition of "30 teams," my rating of each Major League Baseball team from my most favorite to the most unholy spawn of beezlebub.
Once again, I'm always happy when this tradition comes around again because it means that we're not far from baseball, spring, and a world in which I can see grass, sidewalks, roadside curbing, the fence in our yard, the bottom half of sign posts, and the vehicles driving down the street as I crawl inch-by-inch in reverse down the driveway to see out from behind the snowbanks, hoping that this won't be the day when I place a call to the insurance company.
But you just go right on visiting your spring training sites. I'll get you back when it's August.
Anyway, for this list I decided to focus on rookie mojo. For each team, I found a card that features a past rookie sensation from that team. It was pretty easy to find cards for most of the teams. Some, like the Dodgers and the A's in particular, have enjoyed abundant rookie stars. Others, like the Diamondbacks, well, it's just another reason why I'm wondering why they exist.
But I found a card for every team and now it's time to rank them. Once again, I remind you: this is the authoritative list. Make your own list if you wish. But this the original copy.
1. LOS ANGELES DODGERS (highest ranking on this blog: 1st, lowest ranking on this blog: 1st): The benefits of rooting for the Dodgers are never-ending. Last year I mentioned the abundance of gloriously old cards available for the Dodgers. This time it's how many fantastic rookies they've featured. I went with the very latest. Also, this is the only card that will be shown that is not a Topps card. The Dodgers are special.
2. KANSAS CITY ROYALS (highest ranking: 2nd, lowest ranking: 5th). I could have selected George Brett or Bo Jackson, but The Hammer is more interesting to me. The Royals firmly entrenched themselves in the No. 2 spot by fighting mightily against the evil Giants on the largest stage in baseball. Valiant battle, fellas, but there's only so much you can do against even-year bullshit.
3. PITTSBURGH PIRATES (highest ranking: 3rd, lowest ranking: 4th): This card is sure to get some Pirates supporters stirred up, but I don't care how many stats anyone cites, Steve Sax is still the 1982 Rookie of the Year. I mean, Johnny Ray to some people is the guy in the first line of the Dexys Midnight Runners song. And I'm pretty sure Eileen was a Steve Sax fan.
4. BOSTON RED SOX (highest ranking: 2nd, lowest ranking: 4th): I've been noting as I look through my 2015 Topps cards, how nameless the Red Sox seem to me. I know so few players on the team. This is vastly different from the mid-to-late '70s when the Red Sox were only slightly less familiar than the Dodgers.
5. BALTIMORE ORIOLES (highest ranking: 5th, lowest ranking: 17th): I was tempted to push the Orioles past the Red Sox this year. But the O's and Red Sox are the two teams that my brothers root for and back in those days it was known -- at least by two of us -- that the Red Sox were clearly more legitimate than the Orioles. So shall it be. Eddie or no Eddie.
6. TEXAS RANGERS (highest ranking: 5th, lowest ranking: 16th): I sense this team heading down in the rankings next year unless Adrian Beltre can do something to resurrect the entire team. At this rate, they'll be dragging another David Clyde out from the minors to attract some fans.
7. OAKLAND A'S (highest ranking: 5th, lowest ranking: 8th): Throwing a bone to the 30-something crowd. Canseco pissed me off in the late '80s.
8. PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES (highest ranking: 2nd, lowest ranking: 9th): Starting to feel sorry for the Phillies. That usually means a plunge down the list. But they did help the Dodgers get Jimmy Rollins.
9. HOUSTON ASTROS (highest ranking: 9th, lowest ranking: 16th): This is the first change in ranking from last year's list. The Astros soar up five spots for no other reason than I want them to win the American League title and then the World Series (provided the Dodgers aren't the other team) so people can talk about how the Astros appeared for both the AL and the NL in the World Series 10 years apart and everyone will see how clearly wrong that is and move Houston back to the National League.
It could happen.
10. CHICAGO WHITE SOX (highest ranking: 6th, lowest ranking: 11th): The White Sox drop one place because a certain owl's boss is a White Sox fan. I'm very, very sorry that he is in your camp White Sox fans. My condolences.
11. DETROIT TIGERS (highest ranking: 7th, lowest ranking: 11th): I've been doing a lot of thinking about other fans and the teams they choose as their favorites, trying to put myself in their place and understand why they root for them. I've always had a difficult time with why someone would root for the Tigers outside of growing up in Michigan. They seem almost generic. Mark Fidrych aside, of course. I don't mean to be mean, they just don't do anything for me.
12. MINNESOTA TWINS (highest ranking: 10th, lowest ranking: 13th): The mid-1960s Twins must have been fun. A team that could win without a dome.
13. CINCINNATI REDS (highest ranking: 9th, lowest ranking: 13th): I will never say I miss the Big Red Machine, but I do miss the old National League West of the Dodgers, Reds, Astros, Giants, Braves and Padres. Good times.
14. TORONTO BLUE JAYS (highest ranking: 13th, lowest ranking: 18th): Eric Hinske was the rookie of the year. Really. The Blue Jays don't seem to be known for their rookie star power. There's Dave Stieb and then what? Tony Fernandez? Alfredo Griffin? Jose Cruz Jr.? I've got to be missing someone. Jesse Barfield?
15. CLEVELAND INDIANS (highest ranking: 11th, lowest ranking: 17th): The best thing about Joe Charboneau was it got me to pay attention to the Indians, who were absolutely awful when I first started following baseball.
16. NEW YORK METS (highest ranking: 16th, lowest ranking: 21st): The player on the card has nothing to do with the team ranking, or else the sight of a 1986 Met would send this team plummeting into San Diego Padre territory.
17. MIAMI MARLINS (highest ranking: 13th, lowest ranking: 18th): The Marlins are interesting. I want to see what Dee Gordon does on that team. We'll see if I'm saying the same thing when I'm watching the Mets play the Marlins in that horrible ballpark for the 48th time this summer.
18. TAMPA BAY RAYS (highest ranking: 17th, lowest ranking: 23rd): No Joe Maddon. This team does not compute.
19. SEATTLE MARINERS (highest ranking: 18th, lowest ranking: 20th): Any team that has an immediate shot of doing harm to the Angels is OK with me.
20. ATLANTA BRAVES (highest ranking: 20th, lowest ranking: 24th): With the Phillies and Mets in the division you never know, but it looks like the Braves are gunning for the cellar this year. I'm hopeful, because it'll be like the old days. It'll be as if I saved videotapes of Skip Caray and Joe Simpson lamenting the bumbling late '80s Braves.
21. WASHINGTON NATIONALS (highest ranking: 21st, lowest ranking: 24th): I'll never forgive them for taking away the Expos, or for the back-to-back hobby hysteria of Strasburg and Harper, or for being unable to beat the Giants. But something tells me I'll be leaning on them to defeat some horrific team again next fall.
22. MILWAUKEE BREWERS (highest ranking: 10th, lowest ranking: 23rd): Thank goodness for the Pirates, because the NL Central is a cesspool. We're a long way from Harvey's Wallbangers, Robin.
23. COLORADO ROCKIES (highest ranking: 23rd, lowest ranking: 26th): Can you believe it? The Rockies have pulled away from the rest of the non-Dodger NL West teams! This is a testament to both their nonthreatening nature and the fact that some NL teams have lost what remains of their soul.
24. VINCE COLEMAN (highest ranking: 6th, lowest ranking: 24th): To wit. Mike Matheny has officially replaced Angel Pagan in the "Does he ever smile?" category. I don't understand why the Cardinals have such a difficult time hiring likeable managers. Herzog, LaRussa and now Smiley. And I'm only writing about this because I don't want to go on a rant about Adam Wainwright. Also, good heavens, Cardinals, you're only one step ahead of the ...
25. CHICAGO CUBS (highest ranking: 20th; lowest ranking: 25th): I am officially bracing for the Joe Maddon-Cubs lovefest. It's probably already started, but there's going to be a fever-pitch point this season and the Cubs are already filled with so much saccharin that adding media darling Maddon onto the sugar pile will throw me into a coma by July.
26. LOS ANGELES ANGELS (highest ranking: 25th, lowest ranking: 26th): What is it with the fact that two of the Angels' greatest rookie stars of all-time have fish surnames?
27. SAN DIEGO PADRES (highest ranking: 27th, lowest ranking: 27th): I know, you want Benito Santiago here. But I'm not going to do it. Because I don't like the Padres. Do some research on Butch Metzger. The Padres have landed a bunch of star players that ... hmmmmm, several other teams seemed much too eager to let go. But let's get all excited about the revamped Padres. As usual, I hope they are wildly unsuccessful.
28. NEW YORK YANKEES (highest ranking: 28th, lowest ranking: 29th): I know, I know. I could have put Derek Jeter or Thurman Munson here. But I just like reminding Yankees fans that they once really, really, really liked Joba Chamberlain. I should have sold this card for thousands (OK, 20 bucks) while I could.
29. ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS (highest ranking: 28th, lowest ranking: 29th): It is really difficult finding a rookie star with the Diamondbacks. I almost had to go with Conor Jackson. Arizona seemed to have calmed down a little from all of its nonsense of the last couple of years and then Dave Stewart started spouting about "true baseball teams," solidifying their No. 29 ranking.
30. SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS (highest ranking: 30th, lowest ranking: 30th): Montefusco is the perfect guy for this spot and this team. He played for nothing but teams I've despised all my life (Giants, Braves, Padres, Yankees) and he couldn't shut up about how much he disliked the Dodgers ("I hate the Dodgers. I'm from New Jersey and I've always been a Yankees fan." Well, that's at least two black marks right on your forehead, sir). But those were the good old days when it was just troll talk because the Giants sucked. Now they keep winning World Series and I'm still baffled as to how they keep doing it. These are dark, dark times for baseball.
Geez, I hated ending on that unhappy point. Maybe next year I'll start with the worst first.
Anyway, there you are, the rankings for 2015. As usual, keep this list next to your TV/viewing device so you know who to root for.