John Kruk, Darren Daulton

Your Monday Morning Power Rankings

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I’m gonna level with you: thanks to the vacation, I have no freakin’ idea what happened last week. Oh, I quickly glanced at scores most mornings, but I didn’t think hard about it or process any of it. I have a very weak grasp on who’s hot and who’s not. And, even if I can gain some insight into that from the standings and last week’s results, I really have no idea why they’re hot or not. Baseball is something with which you have to engage every day in order to really be on top of things, and I haven’t been doing that for a while.

So yeah, this week’s rankings are probably off by several degrees. Sue me. I’ll do my best to catch up this week and make the necessary adjustments for next week’s edition. In the meantime:

1. Phillies (1): Before Philly fans jump on my case for taking so long to rank them as the sole number one, know that if I would have done a ranking last week they would have been by themselves at the top then too.  That said, I presume some Philly fans will still got on my case for the above disclaimer about my vacation as evidence that I’ve slighted or disrespected them somehow. In other news, the best thing about my vacation was that I didn’t meet or interact with a single Phillies fan.

2. Red Sox (1): Stolen factoid from Gleeman’s Twitter feed yesterday morning: “There are only 25 non-Red Sox hitters in the AL with a higher OPS than the Red Sox have as a team.”  If Gleeman stole it from someone else, apologies to the whoever else it was who first observed it.  But hey, finders keepers.

3. Yankees (3): This has to go in a bathroom, right? I mean, is there anyplace else it can go apart from a largish guest bathroom? And that’s not a slam. Kate Winslet keeps her Oscars in her bathroom, and she’s pure class.

4. Brewers (7): A lot of their recent wins have come against the Astros which should barely count, but a lot of them have come against the Cardinals too, which means everything in this division at the moment. Milwaukee is getting the job done when given the opportunity.

5. Braves (4): I’m pretty sure that last week was the longest I’ve gone without watching a Braves game during the season in, like, a decade. Even on past vacations I’ve caught one or two randomly. I see they took to my neglect quite nicely. Must process this.

6. Rangers (5): Big four game set against the Halos starts tonight. Can they put the division away?

7. Diamondbacks (8): Next six games come against Philly and Atlanta. If they come through that and they’re still in first place, San Francisco — and maybe Philly and Atlanta — have a lot to think about in terms of the postseason implications.

8. Angels (10): Big four game set against the Rangers starts tonight. Can they keep the division in play?

9. Rays (11): Desmond Jennings must be all smoke and mirrors. I mean, in the past three weeks his OPS has plummeted by over 50%!  Oh, wait. It started up above 2.400?  Never mind then.

10. Giants (6): A tough series against the Braves to start the week off, but then they get 12 games against the Astros, Cubs and Padres. Seven of those 12 against the Astros, actually. Then they meet Arizona. Now would be a good time for San Francisco to win some baseball games.

11. Tigers (12): I was in northern Michigan for my vacation.  You see a lot of Tigers gear up there, worn by vacationing Detroiters. Everyone under 12 or so wears Justin Verlander stuff. Everyone over 30 wears stuff with Trammell and all of those old guys on it. I have no data, but I have a hunch that Tigers fans are a more nostalgic group than most fans.

12. Cardinals (9): Just as an FYI, they were a half game back in the standings when they traded Colby Rasmus, acquired Edwin Jackson and generally re-shuffled. Now they’re … not.

13. Reds (17): I am really sad that I missed the Yonder Alonso follies last week.

14. Indians (15): Another team taking care of divisional business when they can. And save it: while it was admirable that they took two of three from Detroit last week, I don’t think that makes them a better team overall.

15. Blue Jays (13): Unlike the Cardinals, the Jays have more or less stayed steady, at least in the standings, since the Rasmus trade. This is no sharp commentary on the trade, though. Just observin’.

16. White Sox (18): Winners of eight of ten and a series against the Tribe starting tomorrow night. Can they leapfrog into second? Is my preseason pick for the AL Central gonna actually pan out?

17. Mets (13): Let’s find a silver lining. How about this: there are two third place teams in baseball with worse records than the Mets, and both of them — the A’s and Rockies — were considered by many to be contenders this year. Does that make anyone feel better?

18. Nationals (22): I don’t think there has been a team that has had a higher ratio of interesting minor league news to interesting major league news than the 2011 Nationals in many years.

19. Pirates (16): Remember when everyone was on that Pirates bandwagon? Seems like a million years ago.

20. Rockies (20): Random: their first game against a divisional opponent in the month of August doesn’t come until this Friday.

21. Dodgers (24): I swear, with the exception of Philly, every single time I’ve seen a National League team on a modest win streak this season, I look up and see that they just got done playing the Astros. It’s uncanny.

22. Marlins (19): Lost in all of the Logan Morrison stuff was the fact that the Feesh also released Wes Helms.  Common denominator: Helms has also called out Hanley Ramirez in the past.  Was Ramirez somehow settling all family business last weekend?

23. Cubs (29): The funniest thing about the Zambrano stuff is that it came during a stretch of nice play by the Cubs. They had won 9 of 11 at the time of his blow up. I’ve defended Zambrano more than some folks have in the past, but really, I can’t think of anyone who is more detached from his teammates and the general vibe of the world than he is. He’s just not cut out for this whole team sports thing. His temperament is like some second-tier tennis bad boy of the late 70s.

24. Athletics (21): Apropos of nothing, Brandon McCarthy has great taste.

25. Padres (25): A 6-4 road trip ain’t bad.

26. Mariners (27): Two out of three from the Bosox ain’t bad either.

27. Twins (23): People I talked to continued to say that we gotta watch out for the Twins as recently as two weeks ago. Whatever. The Twins gotta watch out for Kansas City.

28. Royals (26): A 1-6 week. Ick.

29. Orioles (28): Sign this guy!

30. Astros (30): Seriously: how many bona fide major leaguers are on this roster right now?  I’ve seen expansion teams with more red meat.

It’s OK to not like someone on the team you root for

St. Louis Cardinals' Yadier Molina celebrates as he arrives home after hitting a solo home run during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the San Francisco Giants Monday, Aug. 17, 2015, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
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There were a series of interesting comments to the Yadier Molina story this morning. The first commenter, a Cardinals fan, said he’s never really cared for Molina. Other Cardinals fans took issue with that, wondering how on Earth a Cardinals fan could not like Yadi.

While I’ll grant that Molina is a particularly popular member of the Cardinals, while I personally like his game and his overall persona, and while I can’t recall ever meeting a Cards fan who didn’t like him, why is it inconceivable that someone may not?

Whether you “like” a player is an inherently subjective thing. You can like players who aren’t good at baseball. You can dislike ones who are. You can like a player’s game who, as a person, seems like a not great guy. You can dislike a player’s game or his personality for any reason as well. It’s no different than liking a type of music or food or a type of clothing. Baseball players, to the fans anyway, are something of an aesthetic package. They can please us or not. We can choose to separate the art from the artist, as it were, and ignore off-the-field stuff or give extra credit for the off-the-field stuff. Dowhatchalike.

No matter what the basis is, “liking” a player on your favorite team is up to one person: you. And, as I’ve written elsewhere recently, someone not liking something you like does not give you license to be a jackass about it.

A-Rod’s mansion is featured in Architectural Digest

Alex Rodriguez
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For a couple of years people worried if A-Rod would sully the Yankees Superior Brand. Given how they’re playing these days I wonder if A-Rod should be more worried about the Yankees sullying his brand.

He resurrected his baseball career last year. He’s cultivated a successful corporate identity. He’s in a relationship with a leading Silicon Valley figure. It’s all aces. And now it’s total class, as his home is featured in the latest issue of Architectural Digest:

Erected over the course of a year, the 11,000-square-foot retreat is a showstopper, with sleek forms and striking overhangs that riff on midcentury modernism, in particular the iconic villas found at Trousdale Estates in Beverly Hills. Unlike Rodriguez’s previous Florida home, the Coral Gables house is laid out on just one story so the interiors would connect directly to the grounds. Says Choeff, “Alex wanted to accentuate the indoor-outdoor feel.”

There are a lot of photos there.

I don’t think I have much in common with Alex Rodriguez on any conceivable level, but I do like his taste in architecture and design. I’m all about the midcentury modernism. Just wish I had the paycheck to be more about it like my man A-Rod here.

Video: Yadier Molina does pushups after being brushed back, gets hit

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The best part of this sequence is not that Molina successfully evaded an inside pitch or that, in doing so, he hit the dirt and did some pushups. It’s not even the part where, after that, het got back up and knocked a single to left field.

No, the best part is the applause from the crowd. Very respectful fan base in St. Louis. They’d even applaud an opposing player who showed such a great work ethic. Or so I’m told.

 

Justin Verlander and Kate Upton are engaged

Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander, left, and model Kate Upton pose for a photograph during second half NBA All-Star Game basketball action in Toronto on Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016. (Mark Blinch/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
Associated Press
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Justin Verlander and Kate Upton have been a couple for a long time. And dudes like me have been writing about them for a long time because, well, Justin Verlander and Kate Upton.

They’ve fallen a bit off the radar in recent years thanks to Verlander taking a step back from Cy Young contender status and Upton’s profile likewise receding a bit, but if anything that probably helped things out given how hard it probably is to live a life with paparazzi hovering every time you want to out and get a burger or something.

In any event, those two crazy kids have made it work. Made it work so well that Verlander gave Upton a big fat rock that she showed off at last night’s Met Ball, which is a fundraising gala for the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Check it out:

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When you’re on a $180 million contract you can afford stuff like that, I guess.

Anyway, it looks like Upton enjoyed the fancy, star-studded gala in New York. I’m sure Verlander had a good time on the Tigers’ off-day in Cleveland. There’s a lot to do in Cleveland if you know where to look.