The Sun's national baseball writer, Peter Schmuck,...


The Sun's national baseball writer, Peter Schmuck, ranks the major leagues' 28 teams.

1. Atlanta Braves, 1, Three consecutive home runs twice in the same week, a 10-0 record on the road, a no-hit spot starter. What more do you want?

2. Toronto Blue Jays, 2, If the ball isn't corked, than the Blue Jay bats must be. Or could it be that they're still the best team in the American League?

3. Baltimore Orioles, 6, Now that short relief situation is no longer a question mark, the Orioles are in position to put real heat on the Blue Jays.

4. San Francisco Giants, 3, More of a lock than the Braves, when you consider their competition in the four-team NL West.

5. Chicago White Sox, 8, McDowell hasn't provided pitching leadership yet, and the Sox still appear to be the dominant team in the AL Central.

6. Cincinnati Reds, 4, Marge is still smoking and so are the Reds.

7. Boston Red Sox, 5, If the Red Sox could play the Oakland A's all the time, they could forget all about the Curse of the Bambino.

8. Cleveland Indians, 7, The Indians are playing very well on the road, but they need to get comfortable in their new stadium to take control of the AL Central.

9. St. Louis Cardinals, 15, Is it Rick Sutcliffe's intangible leadership quality or is the NL Central ripe for the taking this year?

10. Oakland A's, 14, The A's may not have to step up in the AL West if everyone else keeps stepping down.

11. Houston Astros, 12, Pete Harnisch first victim of Baltimore Sun Extra Innings jinx, but Astros remain competitive in so-so NL Central.

12. New York Yankees, 11, Could get things moving with eight

games against Oakland, California and Seattle.

13. New York Mets, 17, Between Jeff Kent and the allegedly juiced baseball, the Mets are no longer the laughing stock of the NL East.

14. Kansas City Royals, 22, Already recovering from another tough start. Should move up with eight of next 10 games against Milwaukee and Detroit.

15. Philadelphia Phillies, 9, Reality already is setting in. There will be no title defense this year.

16. Seattle Mariners, 18, The Mariners are showing signs of life, but they need Randy Johnson to pull himself together.

ZTC 17. Colorado Rockies, 20, If Dante Bichette has become a legitimate 30-100 guy, the Rockies could turn second season into second-place finish.

18. California Angels, 23, Moving up in spite of pitching problems and a string of one-run losses.

19. Florida Marlins, 25, Marlins have been playing .500 ball, but figure to stumble against Reds and Braves this week.

20. Montreal Expos , 16, The Expos were supposed to be competitive this year, but should be looking at a double-figure divisional deficit this time next week.

21. Texas Rangers, 10, Whatever happened to the power Rangers?

22. Pittsburgh Pirates, 26, Respectable start, but weekend series

in Atlanta could be wake-down call.

23. Milwaukee Brewers, 13, Turner Ward will have to hit a home run every day for the Brewers to keep up torrid .500 pace.

24. Los Angeles Dodgers, 21, Tommy Lasorda said it best this week. "Everything's going fine except the standings."

25. Detroit Tigers, 24, Tigers offense is averaging only 4.9 runs a game with that pitching staff. Enough said.

26. Chicago Cubs, 19, The wind isn't the only thing blowing out at Wrigley Field, where Cubs are 0-8.

27. Minnesota Twins, 27, Somebody must have let the air out of the Metrodome. The Twins just can't win there anymore.

28. San Diego Padres, 28, Brad Pennington and Arthur Rhodes will enjoy Southern California climate.

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