Single page view By Eric Neel
Page 2

As we mentioned last time, there's power and then there's power. One's a measure of hits, runs, and wins and such; and the other's a measure of, well, anything and everything else.

Care to guess which kind we're addressing now?

Here, then, are the Page 2 MLB Power Rankings, Midsummer Classic edition.

1. Tampa Bay Devil Rays (28-61)

Lou Piniella
Sweet Lou might go absolutely crazy in the second half.

Lou's start-the-closer plan is positively Veeckian in its odd, ticket-selling genius. We pray he has the stones, or the lapsing synapses, to actually give it a go coming out of the break.

2. Boston Red Sox (49-38)
The Yanks have to call a secret special meeting between the "Florida Camp" and the "New York Camp" just to generate a pulse these days. Meanwhile, the Red Sox stir up some high-quality internal conflict and genuine baseball-strategy debate among the faithful and the average fan alike just by weaning a guy off the DL.

3. St. Louis Cardinals (56-32)
We were impressed with the way Chris Carpenter began the season. Anyone who comes back strong off an injury deserves much respect. But the way he's been going lately, the way he's been just toying with hitters, stealing their candy, calling them names, pantsing them right out there in front of everyone, wešre starting to think maybe respect isn't quite enough. We're starting to think maybe we should fear this guy and his shy grin; you know, the way moms, pops, and the grandparents feared little Timmy Cornfield once upon a time …

4. Anaheim Angels (52-36)
Imagine how good they might be if they'd give up the Los Angeles charade. Seriously, they're killing themselves with this thing. The us-against-the-world Anaheim frenzy was a huge part of their run in 2002. This year, as they approach the clubhouse turn, they're backed by ambivalence and hurt feelings. Nice call. I see Rally Monkeys hanging from nooses. I hear Thunder Stix beating out "Taps."

5. Washington Nationals (52-36)
Short list of the least likely superstars of 2005:

No. 5: Derrek Lee
No. 4: Brian Roberts
No. 3: Jon Garland
No. 2: Sandra Day O'Connor
No. 1: Chad Cordero (and it isn't even close)

6. Atlanta Braves (50-39)
Why aren't people digging deeper into this Julio Franco situation? Shouldn't there be a team of scientists diagnosing his DNA? Shouldn't someone be inquiring about his diet? Is this one of those Willard Scott old lady situations, when Franco eats a bowl of apple sauce and chews a strip of jerky every morning and lives to be 103? Why are there no groups of hobbled, gnarled seniors, disillusioned with Benny Hinn's snake oil, lined up outside the Braves' clubhouse hoping for an exercise tip or a laying on of hands?

7. Houston Astros (44-43)
What are the odds on the Astros to win it all right now? 100-1 maybe? Make the bet. Take 10 dollars out of your pocket right now and walk over to the window. Don't hurry. Don't smile. Don't whistle. Don't do anything that might call attention to you. Just make the bet.

8. Oakland Athletics (44-43)
Yes, maybe we're a little too charmed here by the fact that Chavez can only get better, Crosby is coming on, Harden is coming back, and Blanton, Haren, Street and Duchscherer are figuring things out at what seems to be a simultaneous rate. But don't mind us, we're really just running a little experiment. We want to know: If we put the A's in the top 10, does Joe Morgan's head blow clean off his shoulders? Or is it more of a seething, bilious meltdown effect?



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