It is a tradition in these parts, just as the grapefruits and cacti fly, to rank all 30 Major League Baseball teams according to my preferences.
This is the ninth annual edition of this post, but I've been ranking teams in this manner long before this blog. Some may call this ritual odd. But some call card-collecting odd and some call blogging odd. I don't know why. It's a lot more normal than virtually everything I witness on a daily basis.
But, sure, if you want to call it "odd," then I guess I'm "odd". I'll wear that label proudly. It probably does fit me, because in what now appears to be a sign of my personality, I enjoy oddball cards more and more.
I've always liked oddball cards, going back to when I was a kid and 3-D cards were in your cereal boxes and cards with dotted lines were propping up your snack cakes. So this is hardly a recent development. "Odd" and "oddballs" are in my blood.
That's why, for this edition of "30 teams," I have selected an oddball card in my collection for each team.
So sit back and take a look at where your team lands this year. As always, this is the authoritative list. Make your own list if you want, but this is the original copy.
1. LOS ANGELES DODGERS (highest ranking: 1st; lowest ranking: 1st): At this time of year, I know quite a bit about the Dodgers and almost nothing about any other team. As the season runs its course, I know progressively more about the other teams (except for you, Twins, I still know nothing about you). But it still pales in comparison to my knowledge of my precious Dodgers. Just another indication of how indifference is the opposite of love.
2. KANSAS CITY ROYALS (highest ranking: 2nd; lowest ranking: 5th): The Royals not only didn't repeat as World Series champions last year, but they didn't even make the playoffs. That's four straight years of that nonsense. I grew up with dynasties. Where are my dynasties? ... Don't answer that, Cubs.
3. PITTSBURGH PIRATES (highest ranking: 3rd; lowest ranking: 4th): Bring back these uniforms, Pirates, and you're living in second place.
4. BOSTON RED SOX (highest ranking: 2nd; lowest ranking: 4th): I don't have a real reason to keep the Red Sox this high, Carl Yastrzemski isn't playing for the team anymore, Don Zimmer isn't managing, and my brother talks more about the Giants these days because he's been invaded by pod people. But then I hear a Yankee fan whine about the Red Sox and I understand their purpose again. They deserve this ranking.
5. HOUSTON ASTROS (highest ranking: 5th; lowest ranking: 16th): I'm still itching for the Astros to win an AL title so we can enter that bizarro world where a team represents both the AL and the NL in the World Series within a 12-year span. Selig, you're still the best.
6. BALTIMORE ORIOLES (highest ranking: 5th; lowest ranking: 17th): Orioles slip a notch because they get too noisy sometimes for my taste. It's just not my style. I ascribe to "speak softly and carry a big stick." To me, that's way more cool.
7. OAKLAND A'S (highest ranking: 5th; lowest ranking: 8th): I probably should have the A's ranked lower as they will be interfering with my Astros. But I just have a thing for nameless ballplayers wearing gold.
8. CLEVELAND INDIANS (highest ranking: 8th; lowest ranking: 17th): Indians take the biggest jump this year, thanks to their World Series appearance. I'm not a bandwagon fan or anything, but sometimes a little exposure is a good thing, and, man, that Francisco Lindor. He could be my favorite non-Dodger player.
9. TEXAS RANGERS (highest ranking: 5th; lowest ranking: 17th): The whole Rougned Odor-Jose Bautista thing has hurt my appreciation for the Rangers. Still, I like them a lot more than many other teams.
10. PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES (highest ranking: 2nd; lowest ranking: 10th): The Phillies sink to an all-time low of 10th, not because anything they've done has irritated me lately. It's just that a team falling on hard times sometimes makes me sad.
11. CINCINNATI REDS (highest ranking: 9th; lowest ranking: 13th): Reds move up a spot, but if they ever bring back those pinstripe uniforms, they're going back down again.
12. DETROIT TIGERS (highest ranking: 7th; lowest ranking: 12th): The Tigers might be the dullest team that's been around for more than a 100 years. I know that seems strange for me to say, but every time I picture the team, they're in black-and-white. They haven't gotten me excited since '84, maybe since Fidrych.
13. TORONTO BLUE JAYS (highest ranking: 13th; lowest ranking: 18th): I liked the Jays a lot more during the bad early years.
14. MINNESOTA TWINS (highest ranking: 10th; lowest ranking: 14th): I run out of stuff to say every time I get to the Twins.
15. CHICAGO WHITE SOX (highest ranking: 6th; lowest ranking: 15th): Bring back these uniforms White Sox, and you're returning to the top 10. Bring back Wayne Nordhagen, and I might squeeze you into the top five.
16. MIAMI MARLINS (highest ranking: 13th: lowest ranking: 18th): I wish the Marlins played in another stadium, with people who went to their games.
17. NEW YORK METS (highest ranking: 16th; lowest ranking: 21st): The Mets start sliding backward. Gonna take me a long time to get over 2015.
18. SEATTLE MARINERS (highest ranking: 18th; lowest ranking: 20th): The Mariners might as well play on the moon, with all of their games starting at 9 a.m. Whatever this team can do to escape my awareness, it does. And does a pretty fine job of it.
19. WASHINGTON NATIONALS (highest ranking: 19th; lowest ranking; 24th): It's a good thing the Dodgers won that NLDS last season.
20. TAMPA BAY RAYS (highest ranking: 17th; lowest ranking: 23rd): For some of the more recent MLB teams, it was difficult finding oddball cards, so I had to go with custom-made cards. Probably an indication of how unimportant a team is if it doesn't have any oddball cards.
21. ATLANTA BRAVES (highest ranking: 20th; lowest ranking: 24th): If the Braves brought back these uniforms ... well, they'd still be 21st.
22. MILWAUKEE BREWERS (highest ranking: 10th; lowest ranking: 23rd): As long as Ryan Braun is on that team the Brewers will never see the teens. Thank goodness he didn't get sent to the Dodgers.
23. COLORADO ROCKIES (highest ranking: 23rd; lowest ranking: 26th): I know this is a Sky Sox card, not a Rockies card, but it's a struggle with these newbie teams.
24. CHICAGO CUBS (highest ranking: 20th; lowest ranking: 25th): So now that the Cubs have won the World Series, how does that affect their appeal? Do I like them more? Less? Actually, I "like" them the same, which is to say, I don't really like them at all. And the Dodgers should have won, dammit.
25. ST. LOUIS CARDINALS (highest ranking: 6th; lowest ranking: 25th): I probably shouldn't have picked this card for the Cardinals. It makes me want to rank them higher than where they rightfully are.
26. LOS ANGELES ANGELS (highest ranking: 25th; lowest ranking: 26th): Bracing for relentless Mike Trout posting from the Angels fan I know.
27. SAN DIEGO PADRES (highest ranking: 27th; lowest ranking: 27th): I see where the Padres are predicted to be as awful as ever this season. I don't know how Padres fans deal with it. I can see if you live in San Diego, having a team to go watch, but I can't see how repeated ineptitude builds any allegiance.
28. NEW YORK YANKEES (highest ranking: 28th; lowest ranking: 29th): Living where I do means having to speak respectably about the Yankees in order to keep the peace at work. Just another reason to dislike this team.
29. ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS (highest ranking: 28th; lowest ranking: 29th): Isn't it about time that the Diamondbacks change their uniforms again?
30. SAN FRANCISO GIANTS (highest ranking: 30th; lowest ranking: 30th): This guy.
As usual, keep this list next to your television/viewing device so you know who to root for.
Rooting for any team in any other order would be just plain ... well ... odd.