Your Monday Afternoon Power Rankings

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Since a whole lot hasn’t happened in the last week thanks to the All-Star Game, the comments accompanying the rankings this week focus less on the overall state-of-the-ballclub and more on what they need, both at the trade deadline or otherwise.

1. Yankees: The Bombers need A.J. Burnett to quit flaking out, Andy Pettitte to make a quick return and no one important to the organization to die for a little while.

2. Rays: A big bat at DH would be nice. B.J. Upton to remember that he used to be good would be useful as well.

3. Padres: A little offense wouldn’t hurt. The Padres could also do without the Boston media continuing to treat them like roadkill whose only purpose in life is to trade Adrian Gonzalez to the Red Sox.

4. Braves: An outfielder who can hit. And while they really don’t want it or need it, it would probably do the Braves some good as an organization to see Yunel Escobar thrive for Toronto in the second half. I mean, yeah, the corporate culture has usually worked for Atlanta, but Bobby Cox and his gravitas aren’t going to be around next year and eventually the team is going to have to figure out how to get the most out of talented but flawed players rather than ship them out at the first sign of trouble.

5. Rangers: An owner would be nice, but that’s crazy talk. Otherwise the Rangers have pretty much made their moves this year. Maybe they can shore up the bench a bit with a bat who could cover for Chris Davis in the event he goes into a deep slump. Mostly it’s time to think about playoff roster optimization, though, because I don’t see the Angels being able to mount a sustained threat.

6. White Sox: A DH and a starter. Though really, given that one of their most talked about trade chits — Gordon Beckham — is starting to heat up, does Chicago really have the ability to land one? Maybe if they can convince Roy Oswalt to come to Chicago and agree to pick up the bulk of his salary they could get him for a song in terms of players going south.

7. Rockies: The healthy return of Troy Tulowitzki is important, but if Brad Hawpe and/or Todd Helton can’t hack it going forward, they’re going to need a corner infielder. Oh, and they need someone to silence Jon Miller before he gets too close to the shocking truth!
 
8. Cardinals: A starter would be nice, as would a mild but temporarily debilitating case of food poisoning to circulate through the Reds’ clubhouse for a couple of weeks. Those guys are pesky.

9. Reds: Some help in the bullpen, mostly. And if they’re really auditioning Jason Isringhausen, they need some help with looking in the right places to look for such help.

10. Giants: Pablo Sandoval to remember that he knows how to hit. Short of that a big outfield or first base bat. For his part, umpire Phil Cuzzi needs the Giants to either make the playoffs or at least to finish more than one game out of the running, or else someone’s likely to put a bounty on him.

11. Red Sox: For like five minutes to pass without someone pulling, straining, breaking, tweaking or rupturing something. And they totally need the Padres to realize that they have no choice but to abort their own feeble playoff run and hand over Adrian Gonzalez as God and Nature intends them to.

12. Tigers: Some relief help. The ability to NOT go on a swoon at the same time either the White Sox or the Twins do. Really, it’s like they want to play in a game-163 again this year.

13. Twins: They need a starter. They also need Joe Mauer to repudiate the bargain he made with his mother, Lara, to have the rays from the red Kryptonian sun drain him of his powers to that he could be with the love of his life, Lois Lane. By the way, in this little flight of fancy, I envision Ozzie Guillen in the General Zod role, which I think he’d find hilarious.

14. Mets: Like everyone else, a starter. Though a long-lasting but ultimately non-violent kidnapping of Oliver Perez may be the most useful thing for roster management purposes.

15. Phillies: A time machine to undo the Cliff Lee trade. Chase Utley to accidentally stumble into the faith-healing tent at some country revival except, in his case, have it actually work.

16. Dodgers: Frank McCourt to loosen the purse strings and allow Ned Colletti to make a move for some pitching. Well, hell, maybe not. Last time he let Colletti go out and get a veteran he traded Carlos Santana away.

17. Angels: A rent-a-first baseman. An exorcist who specializes in Scott Kazmirs.

18. Blue Jays: Another team to unload a “problem” player as good as Yunel Escobar.

19. Athletics: Bud Selig to get off the pot on the whole Oakland/San Jose thing. I mean, the A’s are almost certain to continue alienating the current Oakland fans, but it would at least be nice if they could start to woo the future San Jose fans to make up for it.

20. Marlins: For Selig and MLBPA head Mike Weiner to accidentally knock heads and suffer amnesia long enough so that Larry Beinfest can trade away all of the players who make money before anyone remembers that the Marlins agreed to keep payroll up.

21. Cubs: Derrek Lee to get cool with the idea of going to Anaheim. Ted Lilly giving them the go-ahead-and-trade-me-but-don’t-worry-I’ll-come-back-to-Chicago-in-free-agency-this-winter wink in return.

22. Brewers: Prince Fielder to go on on 20 for 30, 12 home run tear, thereby convincing someone that, price aside, THEY MUST HAVE HIM.

23. Nationals: The Nats need everyone who can’t get in on Prince Fielder to realize that Adam Dunn is a better option.

24. Royals: Kansas City needs everyone who can’t get in on Prince Fielder and Dunn to realize that David DeJesus, while not as good as either of those two, is a hell of a lot cheaper and is probably way more useful in the very short term.

25. Indians: The Tribe needs all of those teams who claim they need pitching to at least pretend to be interested in Jake Westbrook. Because really, I can’t think of an obviously available starter who has had less chatter about him these past few weeks than Westbrook.

26. Astros: Houston needs Roy Oswalt to broaden his horizons a bit in terms of where he’d agree to go, but more than that they need to realize that Oswalt makes way too much for most teams to stomach and consider kicking in more cash in order to get a deal done.

27. Mariners: With Lee gone they don’t have much to sell, and they sure as heck aren’t buyers. I think, more than anyone, they need to simply close their eyes and pray for October to come as quickly as possible.

28. Diamondbacks: Arizona needs yet another team to talk themselves into the whole “Adam LaRoche is a second half god” thing. And having Edwin Jackson shape up a bit so they can shop him without people thinking that A.J. Hinch killed his arm in that no-hitter would be nice too.

29. Orioles: For the “Ty Wigginton is everything you could possibly need” meme that has been circulating lately to last for another ten or eleven days before everyone comes to their senses.

30. Pirates: Steelers camp to open.

Nationals plan to activate Bryce Harper on Monday

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The Nationals are planning to activate Bryce Harper from the 10-day disabled list on Monday, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post reports. Janes adds that Harper has been taking his knee injury on a day-to-day basis, so if he experiences pain ahead of tomorrow’s series opener in Philadelphia, then the Nationals won’t activate him.

Harper, 24, suffered a knee injury running out a grounder last month against the Giants. The Nationals hope to get him into some game action before the end of the regular season just so he can get acclimated in time for the playoffs.

When Harper returns, he’ll look to improve on his .326/.419/.614 slash line with 29 home runs, 87 RBI, and 92 runs scored in 472 plate appearances.

Here’s what Jackie Robinson had to say about the national anthem

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For a lot of people, athletes expressing their political viewpoints by protesting the national anthem is a relatively new concept. But the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Jackie Robinson is celebrated every year across baseball on April 15, marking the day he broke the color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. Robinson was an activist well beyond that momentous occasion, highlighting issues black athletes face as editor for Our Sports magazine. He openly criticized then-GM of the Yankees George Weiss on television for the lack of diversity on his team. He helped spur restaurants and hotels to serve black people by criticizing their segregation publicly. Robinson became the first black vice president of an American corporation when he joined coffee company Chock full o’Nuts, and he became the first black baseball analyst when he joined ABC’s Major League Baseball Game of the Week. Of course, Robinson was also the first black member of baseball’s Hall of Fame.

Robinson had an issue with the national anthem as well. As Deadspin’s Lindsey Adler pointed out, Robinson wrote about the anthem in his memoir, I Never Had It Made.

There I was the black grandson of a slave, the son of a black sharecropper, part of a historic occasion, a symbolic hero to my people. The air was sparkling. The sunlight was warm. The band struck up the national anthem. The flag billowed in the wind. It should have been a glorious moment for me as the stirring words of the national anthem poured from the stands. Perhaps it was, but then again perhaps the anthem could be called the theme song for a drama called The Noble Experiment. Today as I look back on that opening game of my first world series, I must tell you that it was Mr. Rickey’s drama and that I was only a principal actor. As I write this twenty years later, I cannot stand and sing the anthem. I cannot salute the flag; I know that I am a black man in a white world. In 1972, in 1947, at my birth in 1919, I know that I never had it made.

Robinson is referring to systemic power that has entrenched whiteness and ostracized blackness. Robinson may have ascended as one of the greatest players of all time and he may have broken the color barrier, but the league was still owned and run entirely by white people, which is what he meant by referring to himself as a “principal actor” in Branch Rickey’s “drama.” Rickey was the white executive who signed Robinson and supported him as the color barrier was broken. Robinson could not have done what he did without the aid of white people like Rickey who have the ability to leverage their systemic power.

Without question, Robinson would have supported the protests of Colin Kaepernick and many others who want to bring attention to the unfair ways in which black people interact with the police and the justice system. And it makes one realize that the people who purport to admire Robinson and his many accomplishments would have said the same things they say about Kapernick et. al. now to Robinson back in 1947. And to Muhammad Ali. And to John Carlos and Tommie Smith. The more things change, the more they stay the same.