This is the third straight preview in which SI has ranked the 26 major league teams from top to bottom, regardless of league or division. We may be the only publication doing it this way, but "last year we correctly picked the best [New York Mets] and the worst [Pittsburgh]," says baseball editor Steve Wulf, leaving undescribed the contents of that sandwich. Undaunted by any miscalculations they may have made in '86, Wulf and several staffers who toured spring training camps—writers Peter Gammons, Ron Fimrite, Craig Neff, writer-reporter Ivan Maisel and photo editor Laurel Frankel—came up with selections for '87. Their consensus, as well as our annual scouting reports, begins on page 84.
Everyone outside New York seems to hate the Mets (page 48), but our experts like them to repeat as world champions. They also thought highly of the Indians (page 74). The Twins, on the other hand, received votes as high as sixth (Wulf) and as low as 19th (Minnesota fans should write to Maisel). The array of opinions we factor into the rankings helps to guard against spring fever: Gammons found it beneficial not to scout Montreal, which he ranked last. "Actually, I had them 27th," he says. "The Expos are two trades away from the American Association."
While coordinating our picture act on fathers and sons (page 62), Frankel toured both Florida coasts and saw a lot of baseball. "Don't ask me why, but I started my rankings from the bottom up," says Frankel, who—this is a hint—spent a lot of time at the Montreal and Atlanta camps. But who looks good, Laurel? "The Reds. Call it intuition, but I just don't think the Mets will win it all again."
Prognostication, obviously, will never be an exact science. Last year, Wulf's passionate defense of the Royals persuaded the staff to rank them second, behind the Mets. Wulf had dinner with Kansas City reliever Dan Quisenberry the night that the baseball issue closed and mentioned that SI had ranked the Royals second.
"What did you do that for?" Quiz asked. "I would have ranked us eighth or ninth." The Royals actually tied for 16th.
Besides our fathers-and-sons act, which shows how many torches have been passed in the baseball family, we also look at the difference between the strike zone of yesterday and the strike zone of today (page 36), look at Ron Darling (page 56) and recount Game 6 of the 1986 World Series (page 110), a game that will undoubtedly become part of baseball lore.
RONALD C. MODRA
Spring fever: Ozzie Virgil and Frankel.