Two weeks to go, and what they’re playing for depends on where you look.
The rankings (records through Wednesday’s games):
1. Cleveland Indians (90-56; Previous: 4): They play for just a couple more runs than last year.
2. Washington Nationals (88-57; Previous: 2): They play to get Dusty a ring, preferably one that matches the wristbands.
3. Los Angeles Dodgers (94-52; Previous: 1): They play to rediscover the summer vibe. Palm trees help. Outcomes, not so much.
4. Houston Astros (87-58; Previous: 3): They play to make Houston proud. Also, for the fantasy values.
5. Arizona Diamondbacks (84-62; Previous: 6): They play to watch the Dodgers squirm.
6. Boston Red Sox (82-63; Previous: 5): They play for the cool apps on their watches.
7. New York Yankees (79-66; Previous: 8): They play for the names on the fronts of their jerseys. There’s not really an alternative.
8. Colorado Rockies (80-66; Previous: 9): They play to catch their breaths. Easier on the road.
9. Chicago Cubs (79-66; Previous: 7): They play for the next 108 years. Or the 108 after that.
10. Milwaukee Brewers (77-69; Previous: 10): They play to prove these things aren’t won on paper. They’re won on 5-Hour Energy and anti-inflammatories.
11. St. Louis Cardinals (76-69; Previous: 13): They play to stay off the Sports Illustrated cover. Seems pretty safe at this point.
12. Minnesota Twins (76-69; Previous: 11): They play for one game against the Yankees. Really hope Pettitte is retired.
13. Los Angeles Angels (74-71; Previous: 14): They play to avoid the look from Scioscia. You know the look.
14. Texas Rangers (72-73; Previous: 16): They play because if they didn’t Adrian Beltre would yell at them.
15. Kansas City Royals (72-73; Previous: 19): They play to save the bees. Ned loves bees.
16. Baltimore Orioles (72-74; Previous: 15): They play to get a wild-card start for Johnny Wholestaff.
17. Seattle Mariners (73-73; Previous: 18): They play because when Dipoto trades them they want it to be somewhere nice.
18. Tampa Bay Rays (72-75; Previous: 17): They play for the joy of activity. Or the money. Probably one of those.
19. Miami Marlins (68-77; Previous: 12): They play to impress the new owner. Not a lot of feedback so far.
20. Pittsburgh Pirates (68-79; Previous: 20): They play to get Juan Nicasio a ring.
21. Toronto Blue Jays (68-78; Previous: 21): They play because if everybody else had to forfeit their games they might have a shot.
22. Atlanta Braves (66-78; Previous: 22): They play for immortality, then see what happens after that.
23. San Diego Padres (65-81; Previous: 26): They play to find out how many Rule 5 teammates they’ll have next year.
24. Oakland Athletics (64-81; Previous: 24): The play for the promise of a better tomorrow, but, honestly, are a little afraid to check the forecast.
25. New York Mets (63-82; Previous: 23): They play for the morbid curiosity.
26. Cincinnati Reds (63-83; Previous: 27): They play for the frequent flyer miles.
27. Detroit Tigers (60-85; Previous: 25): They play for the FEMA checks.
28. Chicago White Sox (58-87; Previous: 28): They play for the future, like somewhere out past 7 o’clock.
29. Philadelphia Phillies (56-89; Previous: 30): They play because, most nights, they have nothing better to do.
30. San Francisco Giants (57-91; Previous: 28): They play because anything can happen, and usually it comes with a nasty bruise.