1. Texas Rangers. The Rangers are my favorite team, so they are this week’s No. 1.
2. Texas Rangers. The Rangers have always been my favorite team, so they are No. 2.
3. Texas Rangers. The Rangers will always be my favorite team, so …
4. Kansas City Royals. The Cardinals are the best team in baseball – the fourth-best team, at least! – but I hate the Cardinals with the fiery hot burning of Satan’s taint squeezed into a pair of coaching shorts during late-summer two-a-days. Look at the first three entries in this ranking – I’ll wait here while you look – and you’ll know why I despise the Cardinals so completely that I have now mentioned the infernal conditions of a summertime football groin. So, rather than rank the Cardinals first or even fourth, I’ll give those Midwestern bastards a big ol’ Show Me State eff-you! by ranking instead their fellow Missourians, a squad of childishly manly men-children whose ridiculous aggressions have elevated them to the top spot on the roll-your-eyes-at-their-immature-manly-man scale, but, you know, whatever. I hate the No. 1 team in … I mean, I hate the Cardinals.
5. Durham Bulls. That was a good movie!
6. Toronto Blue Jays. Have you seen these guys hit? Good lord, they should be arrested for assault and battery in the top of the second and placed in maximum security alongside the likes of the Unabomber and that guy who tried to blow up the whatzit that one time. Question: Remember that team in the Pony League, the one full of dudes with mustaches who pounded your little team into submission until such time that you nearly went deaf from the repeated and concussive thump of aluminum on cowhide and/or until the umpire did the humane thing by citing the mercy rule and then suggesting that you hasten forthwith to the safe and tender clutches of the Astronomy Club? Yeah, that’s the Toronto Blue Jays, all grown up and inflicting anguish across the land, brutes, they are, whose life blood is the unmitigated misery of opposing pitchers and whose existence is made meaningful by, and only by, the repeated ringing of the other team’s bullpen phone.
7. Pittsburgh Pirates. It’s weird, in the way that realizing you like ABBA is weird, but I don’t hate the Pirates at all. In fact, I kind of like them! With regard to most good teams, I’m beset with the sort of hatred that should make me the bassist for a thrashcore punk band called Puke On Your Fuckin’ Doily, Grandma, or I Like To Stab Mannequins In Preparation For Something Even More Disturbing. But the Pirates? Naw. For a while they were cute; now they’re just good. What’s to hate? Let them have their fun. However, should there come a time when the Pirates face any of the three top-ranked teams – I’ll wait here while you look – in the World Series, I reserve the right to become the drummer for a doom-metal band called And Death Becomes Them and then rank the Pirates quite a bit lower.
8. Cleveland Indians. Sorry, Cleveland fans. I don’t mean the Indians as they are currently constituted. That would be stupid. Do you think I’m stupid? It’s true that I’m no sabermetrician, but even I know that a .500 team is not winning baseball games at an above-.500 clip. So there you go. Math! No, I’m talking about the Indians as they are forever constituted in Major League and, to a lesser extent, Major League II. Those guys are funny. I mean, they have some good lines! And their “chemistry” in the season’s second half is so good that Walter White would blow off the other side of Gus Fring’s face to gain rights to European distribution. Plus, there’s Eric Bruskotter. Eric Bruskotter!
9. Chicago Cubs. Baseball history, as a category of history, is full of history about baseball, and among its most cherished items is a beloved and totally not apocryphal story about a goat that broke into Chicago Cubs headquarters and shat all over it. Have you ever heard of cabrito? No? Well, cabrito is just a fancy Latinate word that means “goddamn delicious goat meat,” and let me tell you, here in Texas, a.k.a., the Goat Star State, we love cabrito so much that we invented the World Championship – I mean, isn’t that just typical? – World Championship Cabrito Cookoff, and during its latest iteration on Labor Day I bit into one goat-y morsel and detected notes of cumin, garlic clove and the last dying breath of the curse upon the House of Wrigley. I kid you not.
10. Los Angeles Dodgers. Two words: Clayton Kershaw. Two other words: Zack Greinke. Three additional words: Pow! Pow! Pow! Those guys are Bonnie and Clyde, man – I mean before Bonnie and Clyde were full of bullet holes and if Bonnie were a dude, especially a left-handed dude with a great four-seamer and a kick-ass slider that makes big league hitters look as if they should hasten forthwith to the Astronomy Club.
11. New York Mets. By traditional rules of logic and reason, the New York Yankees should occupy this spot in the rankings … if not a higher spot! But let me be frank. Can I be frank? I will be frank. I hate the Yankees. Seriously, does anyone like the Yankees? – I mean, apart from the millions upon millions of people who like and love and worship and adore the Yankees? If I were President of the United States, I would make the Yankees illegal. Presidents can do that, right? – just make things illegal? I would order my henchmen – sorry, jack-booted henchmen – to arrest each Yankee for offenses ranging from “being a member of the Yankees” to “being on the Yankees.” The Mets, on the other hand, are the other team from New York, the little-team-that-could from New York, the team from New York whose fans include the few celebrities who, instead of wearing Yankees caps, wear Mets caps, and you’re like, “Oh, look, (fill in the celebrity blank) is wearing a Mets cap!” That counts for something, and in this case, it counts for No. 11.
12. First Methodist Church of Peoria’s over-50 women’s softball team. I just think they’re flying under the radar this season. They play good, fundamental defense. They have depth in the starting rotation. They do the little things, and some of the medium things. And if Marjorie Davidson’s hip doesn’t go out and if Jenny Clarkdale doesn’t miss the First Baptist series because of the birth of her first grandchild, I think they’ll be the ones wearing goggles and smoking stogies and claiming that no one picked them to win.
13. First Baptist Church of Peoria’s over-50 women’s softball team. They’re nice.
14. Washington Nationals. It’s as obvious to me as it is to you, unless you are drunk and stupid, that the Astros or Twins should occupy this spot, but let’s be honest: The Astros and Twins were supposed to suck goat balls this season, and the Nationals were supposed to have been great, like 1927 Yankees great or even like team of mustachioed Pony Leaguers great. Can I help it if the Astros and Twins failed to conform to expectations? Can I help it if the Nationals refused to follow the script? (Answer: No. No, I cannot.) But sometimes, even this late in a season of gross underperformance, you just have to say, “The Nationals are good, like 14th best team in the majors good.”
15. Minnesota Twins. It should be clear to you by now, even if you are drunk and stupid, that by any objective analysis, this is a pretty subjective ranking. I don’t mind saying that I’m as biased as the next guy, provided the next guy hates the Astros and doesn’t mind the Twins. Indeed, to my mind, the Twins are the American League equivalent of the Pirates: For a long time they were terrible and now they are not terrible, and even a curmudgeon like yours truly – by the way, if you are currently on my lawn, do get off it – is allowed to be happy on someone else’s behalf when that someone crawls from the pits of baseball misery to enjoy one moment of what it must feel like to play for the goddamn Yankees. However, should the No. 1-through-3-ranked team fall short of the Astros in the AL West, and should the Twins then pass that team for an AL Wild Card spot, I reserve the right to compare them unfavorably to a prison team comprised entirely of goddamn Yankees.