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

1. California Angels -- 4. -- Have earned their wings.

2. Cleveland Indians -- 1. -- Could go 0 for August and still outdistance AL Central.

3. Atlanta Braves -- 2. -- Can phone it in the rest of the way.

4. Cincinnati Reds -- 3. -- Bowden pulls two big deals in a week. That's a career for some GMs.

5. Los Angeles Dodgers -- 10. -- Beefed up pitching staff could throw first-place Rockies for a loss.

6. Houston Astros -- 6. -- Playing well, but title hopes were fractured along with Bagwell's hand.

7. New York Yankees -- 8. -- Cone, not Strawberry, will take Yankees to the top of AL East.

8. Colorado Rockies -- 5. -- Thin air has inflated expectatons, but Dodgers starting to catch their breath.

9. Boston Red Sox -- 7. -- Scrambling furiously to keep the rest of AL East at arm's length.

10. Baltimore Orioles -- 9. -- Now that's entertainment!

11. Philadelphia Phillies -- 13. -- Still in good shape for possible wild card, but may be undone by underachieving offense.

12. Seattle Mariners -- 12. -- Apparently are not ready to give up on one-horse AL West race.

13. Texas Rangers -- 17. -- Managed to survive mother of all slumps with wild card possibility intact.

14. Chicago Cubs -- 15. -- Don't have enough of anything to overcome double-digit divisional deficit.

15. Montreal Expos -- 14. -- Midseason highlight: Segui among league's top five hitters.

16. Kansas City Royals -- 22. -- Runaway Indians make Royals look bad, but they could still sneak into postseason.

17. San Diego Padres -- 16. -- Trading Benes solves a financial problem and creates a public relations problem.

18. Milwaukee Brewers -- 11. -- Left to themselves, things have gone from bad to surprisingly average.

19. Toronto Blue Jays -- 23. -- If you factor in the Canadian exchange rate, they're in third place.

20. Detroit Tigers -- 18. -- Fading fast, but Anderson still deserves credit for keeping them in it for as long as they were.

21. San Francisco Giants -- 21. -- Williams getting close, but Giants are too far out.

22. Chicago White Sox -- 20. -- Jerry Reinsdorf's revenge.

23. Oakland A's -- 19. -- Sierra/Tartabull deal raises obvious question: What's the point?

24. Florida Marlins -- 25. -- Unlike Salmon, these fish swim downstream.

25. St. Louis Cardinals -- 26. -- If you go to the top of the Gateway Arch, you can look way down on Cardinals, which is what rest of NL Central has been doing for weeks.

26. Pittsburgh Pirates -- 24. -- Should walk the plank and get it over with.

27. New York Mets -- 27. -- So depressing Letterman doesn't even bring them up in monologue anymore.

28. Minnesota Twins -- 28. -- Put on this earth so to raise the self-esteem of the rest of the American League.

Note: Statistics through Wednesday's games

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