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

THE BALTIMORE SUN

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

Rank, Team, Previous Rank, Comment

RF 1. Cleveland Indians -- 1 -- Title drive now is on cruise control.

2. Atlanta Braves -- 2 -- With Phillies out of the way, can Braves be stopped?

3. Cincinnati Reds -- 3 -- Still sailing despite problems at first base.

4. Colorado Rockies -- 8 -- Mountain men may be peaking.

5. Boston Red Sox -- 4 -- Wakefield (7-1) still making everyone knuckle under.

6. Texas Rangers -- 13 -- Could be ready to ride herd on AL West.

7. California Angels -- 6 -- Impending return of Chili Davis should provide a lift.

8. Detroit Tigers -- 10 -- Making the so-called experts look pretty silly.

9. Houston Astros -- 7 -- When smoke clears, Astros will joust Phils for wild-card berth.

10. Philadelphia Phillies -- 5 -- There's never a good time to go 2-12, but they picked the

worst.

11. Chicago Cubs -- 14 -- On rebound. Next couple of weeks could be critical.

12. Orioles -- 19 -- Have inexplainable feeling that giant weight VTC has been lifted off their shoulders.

13. Los Angeles Dodgers -- 9 -- Giving too much ground to streaking Rockies.

14. Oakland Athletics -- 12 -- Can't afford to be without McGwire for very long.

15. San Diego Padres -- 16 -- Just rumor of Joe Carter acquisition pushes them up a notch.

16. Seattle Mariners -- 17 -- Need to take advantage of struggling Blue Jays this weekend, but don't bet on it.

17. Kansas City Royals -- 18 -- Time to set their sights on extra playoff slot.

18. New York Yankees -- 11 -- Addition of Strawberry didn't even help Single-A affiliate.

19. San Francisco Giants -- 20 -- In a blatant attempt to upstage Mickey Mantle, Bonds agrees to have personality transplant.

20. Milwaukee Brewers -- 22 -- More fossils found at new stadium site, but it's just outdoor meeting of new ownership bargaining committee.

21. Montreal Expos -- 15 -- What's the French phrase for "It was fun while it lasted"?

22. Chicago White Sox -- 21 -- Gave Orioles nice first-half send-off.

23. Pittsburgh Pirates -- 23 -- Leyland could be next White Sox manager.

24. Toronto Blue Jays -- 24 -- If Joe Carter really is available, keep us in mind.

25. St. Louis Cardinals -- 28 -- Redbirds still looking a little green.

26. Florida Marlins -- 25 -- Nomo strikeout total should get a big boost this weekend.

27. New York Mets -- 27 -- . . . and the No. 1 reason the Mets are in fifth place: NL East no longer is a six-team division.

28. Minnesota Twins -- 26 -- Dispelling the myth of major-league parity.

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