DAILY DIRT: Cubs No. 12, Cardinals No. 18 in first MLB Power Rankings

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Daily Dirt for Thursday, March 21, 2024

And the White Sox, you ask? If you’re a fan of the Southsiders, I simply wouldn’t ask … Welcome to today’s three thoughts that make up Vol. 898 of The Daily Dirt.

1. The first MLB.com Power Rankings have been released, and I can’t say there are any major surprises other than Muddy River czar J. Robert Gough’s beloved Cardinals being lower than I anticipated.

Apparently, all of those ready-for-the-rest-home starting pitchers St. Louis signed did not impress the panel of voters, which consist of 14 media members who regularly cover MLB organizations.

Here’s the top 10 and the other clubs of local interest (comments are mine):

  • 1. Atlanta: The Braves had the top mark in baseball a year ago and have won six straight NL East titles. And now they have Chris Sale. It’s time for Atlanta to win the World Series.
  • 2. Los Angeles Dodgers: A year from now when the Dodgers’ armada of injured pitchers are supposed to be healthy they might win 130 games, but this year’s going to be a struggle to get to 100. I know, I know … most teams would relish such a problem like “only” winning 100 games.
  • 3. Baltimore: Who would have thought the Orioles would have been anywhere near this position in 2021 when they lost 110 games? Here’s a front office that deserves your applause, because this is a club that is just beginning to embrace its potential. For those of you who know local businessman Eric Ervin, he is one happy guy these days. An Orioles fan, Eric was a man in misery for many of those recent summers.
  • 4. Philadelphia: The thing I enjoy most about the Phillies? They’re willing to spend money, and plenty of it. And most of the time, the money is well spent, although Zack Wheeler’s three-year, $126 million deal seemed a bit over the top.
  • 5. Texas: Just wait until rehabbing aces Jacob DeGrom and Max Scherzer are back in the rotation.
  • 6. Houston: Age and expiring contracts may soon combine to close the Astros’ window of World Series opportunity, but while at lasts they will remain a bona fide force. And is there a more feared slugger at this point in time than Yordan Alvarez?
  • 7. New York Yankees: I totally disagree with this high of a ranking for the Yanks. Did the voters overlook the fact that ace pitcher Gerrit Cole will likely be missing half or more of the season? Remember, New York finished in fourth place in the AL East, just two games over .500 in 2023 — and that was WITH Cole. 
  • 8. Toronto: There may not be a more entertaining team to watch in MLB. The Blue Jays, and not Tampa Bay, have the best shot of contending with Baltimore. Shortstop Bo Bichette is excitement personified.
  • 9. Tampa Bay: Four of the top nine teams in the rankings are in the AL East. Tampa’s biggest asset? How about manager Kevin Cash? The man is a genius.
  • 10. Arizona: Whoaaaa … the Diamondbacks were a great story in 2023, but there’s no way they repeat that kind of success. That said, Zac Gallen might be the most underrated “ace” among all MLB pitchers.
  • 12. Chicago Cubs: A while back I felt Milwaukee was still the team to beat in the NL Central, but the Cubs’ addition of Cody Bellinger and the Brewers’ loss of injured Devin Williams and trading of Corbin Burnes puts the Cubs squarely in the favorite’s position.
  • 18. St. Louis: Simply put, if the Cardinals get off to a horrendous start look for heads to roll, starting in the front office. A repeat of 2023 is not acceptable by any stretch of the imagination.
  • 24. Kansas City: At least the Royals are trying (a.k.a. spending some money), and they do have the exciting Bobby Witt Jr. 
  • 28. Chicago White Sox: Thank heaven for Colorado and Oakland or the Chisox would be the worst team in the majors. Heck, they still might be by the end of the season. The Sox are simply wretched.

2. The year was 1971. I was a junior at Mansfield Madison, back in north central Ohio, and these were the top songs on any of those monster A.M. radio stations of the time:

  • 1. “Maggie May,” by Rod Stewart: The finest opening to any song ever? “Wake up, Maggie. I think I got something to say to you. It’s late September, and I really should be back in school.”
  • 2. “Joy to the World,” by Three Dog Night: ” … Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea, joy to you and me.”
  • 3. “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart,” by the Bee Gees: We were still a few years away from the Bee Gees’ disco era.
  • 4. “Tired of Being Alone,” by Al Green: The finest soul singer of all-time. There, I said it.
  • 5. “Brown Sugar,” by the Rolling Stones: Next to “She’s A Rainbow” and “Mixed Emotions,” this is my favorite Stones song.
  • 6. “Want Ads,” by Honey Cone: These girls disbanded in 1973, but will forever be remembered by yours truly.
  • 7. “Me and Bobby McGee,” by Janis Joplin: It’s such a shame she left this world so early. What a voice.
  • 8. “Help Me Make It Through the Night,” by Sammi Smith: At that time, a country ballad always seemed to find its way among the rock hits. This was one of those. 
  • 9. “Stay Awhile,” the Bells: This number was rather risque for the time. Lots of heavy breathing.
  • 10. “Stick-Up,” by Honey Cone: Yeah, I really, really loved that trio.

3. Twas a rather slow week on the highways and byways in West-Central Illinois and Northeast Missouri at least when it came to medal-worthy lice plate spottings.

Thanks to all those who texted or emailed clever plates they saw.

Our top three from last week remained steady:

  • Gold medal: US-MALE. 
  • Silver medal: AUZZIE.
  • Bronze medal: DA LIFE. 

Here’s a handful of the entries we received from readers:

  • ICUC 1
  • QY BEAR 1
  • QY 1
  • BRASS 33
  • PEPPE
  • CUJIE 2

Steve Thought O’ The Day — Maybe should start a contest concerning what will be the date Oli Marmol will be fired.

Steve Eighinger writes daily for Muddy River News. Oil Marmol will not be fired during the 2024 season.

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