Once again, we’ve pretty much said all that can be said about these teams. So let’s force them into arbitrary categories! I sort of feel like I’m stealing Peter Gammons’ bit here, but what the heck.
NOTE: the bands/artists are only for description purposes, They themselves are not being ranked. Because there’s no way I’d ever have The Velvet Underground beneath the Red Hot Chili Peppers on any kind of musical list. I’m just trying match the zeitgeist, ya dig?
Also: there are no Beatles here, because you can’t really talk about the Beatles without acknowledging that they were really the only top-tier band that clearly ended as a reigning champion. Just doesn’t seem right to apply their name to any team before the playoffs are over.
1. Phillies (1): Elvis. Hail to the King, baby.
2. Yankees (2): Dylan. Sublime when they’re on, but they do go through their troubling periods. And yes, Elvis went through way more troubling periods than Dylan ever has, but there was enough attitude and aura about his height that makes it all seem forgivable. Sort of like how the Phillies’ “Sun Sessions” rotation makes you forget their “Clambake” bullpen. In contrast, Dylan’s strange detours always have to be mentioned when considering him as an artist, just as the Yankees’ flaws do too.
3. Tigers (6): The Rolling Stones. Started off as something obviously talented but somewhat derivative, improved greatly as things rolled along and then hit a peak in which they were nearly unstoppable and undeniably dangerous. The question for the Tigers is whether the playoffs will be their “Exile on Main Street” — the peak at the end of an extended run of greatness — or their “Goats Head Soup,” the clear demarcation of the end of a great run.
4. Brewers (4): The Kinks. Excellent in so many ways — a team you really wish more people appreciated and understood — but inevitably never to be considered in the true upper echelon, and thus always destined to be half-a-notch below the true titans.
5. Red Sox/Braves (3, 5): Prince. So good for so long but then something went wrong and they started to put out sub-par crap at an alarmingly high rate.
7. Diamondbacks (8): The Clash. Or Maybe Nirvana. Neither are a perfect fit here for various reasons, but I’m struck by the “came from seemingly out of nowhere and knocked the reigning kings off their pedestal, yet questions exist about how long they’ll really last” dynamic.
8. Rangers (7): Red Hot Chili Peppers. Everyone always thought they knew what made them so great — charismatic leader, elite bass player, lots of funk and attitude — but everyone realized that what really carried them was an under-appreciated and even unexpected contributor. For the Texas Rangers, the big power and offense plays the part of Kiedis and Flea, while C.J. Wilson and the pitching staff plays the part of the essential John Frusciante. When that goes, things will probably go downhill, and what everyone thought was so great will be enough to carry the day.
9. Rays (9): The Velvet Underground. Just sort of crashing the party, messing with the narrative and making so much out of seemingly nothing. But really, they’re insanely talented which, in hindsight, makes you wonder why no one really gave them a shot. It was said that “The first Velvet Underground album only sold 10000 copies, but everyone who bought it formed a band.” The Rays don’t sell a lot of tickets, but everyone who buys one can’t help but being won over.
OK, everyone else gets categories, not their own band:
THE DAVE CLARK FIVE TEAMS (hanging around and generally doing the same things that the big boys are doing, but with a little perspective you realize that, no, they’re not ready for prime time)
10. Angels (9)
11. Cardinals (11)
The OASIS TEAM (we thought they’d be big forever, but they disappeared as quickly as they emerged)
12. Giants (12)
THE DOORS TEAMS (Did some pretty spectacular things for a brief time — or at least possessed one highly interesting element — but there was way more talk about them then the talent level really ever called for).
13. Blue Jays (15)
14. White Sox (14)
15. Indians (13)
16. Reds (16)
THE M.C. HAMMER TEAMS (lots of flash, but better-known for their financial problems than anything else at this point)
17. Dodgers (17)
18. Mets (18)
THE JOURNEY TEAMS (Occasional hits, tons of filler, maybe some guilty pleasure to be taken here, but you know in your heart they suck)
19. Rockies (19)
20. Nationals (20)
21. Marlins (23)
22. Athletics (21)
23. Pirates (22)
THE REO SPEEDWAGON TEAMS (Really bad — not even the number of hits or overall quality of a band like Journey — but occasionally you can get some ridiculous so-bad-it’s-good campy pleasure from them. “Ridin’ the Storm Out,” anyone?)
24. Cubs (24)
25. Padres (25)
26. Royals (26)
27. Mariners (27)
28. Twins (28)
THE GRAND FUNK RAILROAD TEAMS (Too bad for so-bad-it’s-good pleasure. Absolutely nothing to recommend them. A miserable ordeal to which no man or best should be subjected)
29. Orioles (29)
30. Astros (30)