Note: Major League Baseball's playoff format automatically seeds the Wild Card team 4th. Normally, the No. 1 seed plays the No. 4 seed in the Division Series. However, MLB does not allow the No. 1 seed to play the 4th seed/Wild Card winner in the Division Series if they are from the same division, instead having the No. 1 seed play the next lowest seed, the No. 3 seed.
Washington Nationals GM Jim Bowden resigned on March 1 amid allegations that he was skimming bonus money from Latin American players. Team president Stan Kasten first took over the bulk of his duties before transferring them to assistant GM Mike Rizzo, who had served as acting GM, and was named as the full-time general manager on August 20.
During the last days of the regular season, two teams fired their general managers, effective at the end of the season. On October 3, the Toronto Blue Jays fired J. P. Ricciardi after eight seasons. The following day, the San Diego Padres axed Kevin Towers, who had been the longest-tenured GM in Major League Baseball at 14 seasons.
Wakamatsu, the first Major League Baseball manager of Asian descent, was the Athletics' bench coach.
Cito Gaston and Jerry Manuel both entered their first full season as managers of the Toronto Blue Jays and New York Mets, respectively, after taking over for managers dismissed in the middle of the 2008 season. Gaston had previously been the Blue Jays' manager from 1989 until 1997.
On January 15, the owners of the 30 Major League Baseball clubs approved two rule changes governing the playing of postseason and one-game playoff games.
All "postseason games and games added to the regular season to determine qualifiers for the postseason" become suspended games if they are called before nine innings are played, regardless of whether the game would otherwise qualify as an official game, or the score at the time the game is called. The game is resumed when conditions permit at the same location from the point of suspension. This rule change codifies the controversial interpretation of the official rules made by MLB commissionerBud Selig during Game 5 of the 2008 World Series.
Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees got his 2,600th hit and 1,500th run on June 2 against the Texas Rangers. The Yankees' captain would then pass Luis Aparicio for most hits by a shortstop on August 16. Jeter also became the all-time hit leader in Yankees history with a single in the third inning against the Baltimore Orioles on September 11. He broke the record of 2,721 hits that was held by Lou Gehrig.
Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals reached the 1,000 RBI list and the 1,000-run list. On June 30 at Busch Stadium, Pujols became the 32nd player to hit 30 home runs before the All-Star break. He is also the seventh player to hit 30 home runs before the month of July. He would later became the second player in history to record at least 100 RBI in each of his first nine seasons on a 3-run double in the sixth inning at Pittsburgh on August 8, and also hit his 350th career home run after nine seasons.
Adam Dunn hit his 300th career home run on July 3.
Garret Anderson of the Atlanta Braves hit his 500th career double on June 27. He also got his 2,500th career hit with a single in the second inning against the Washington Nationals on October 1. He became the 90th player in major league history to reach this mark.
Vladimir Guerrero of the Los Angeles Angels hits his 400th career home run in a game against the Tampa Bay Rays on August 10. He becomes the 45th player in major league history to reach this mark. Guerrero would later single in the fifth inning against the Detroit Tigers on August 26, and by doing so, became the 13th player to get over 1,000 hits for more than one franchise.
Also on August 10, Troy Tulowitzki hit for the cycle against the Chicago Cubs, and became the second player in baseball history to have hit for the cycle and have an unassisted triple play in their career. His unassisted triple play came on April 24, 2007 against the Atlanta Braves. John Valentin is the other player to have done both.
Eric Bruntlett, a reserve second baseman for the Philadelphia Phillies, pulled off baseball's fifteenth unassisted triple play against the New York Mets at Citi Field on August 23, 2009. It ended a Major League Baseball game for the first time since 1927, as the Phils beat the Mets, 9–7. The only other player to turn an unassisted triple play to complete a game was Johnny Neun, who did it for the Detroit Tigers on May 31, 1927 against the Cleveland Indians. The game also featured an inside-the-park home run by Ángel Pagán, the second such game to see both an inside-the-park homer and a triple play since July 4, 1988 when the Red Sox played at Kansas City where Dwight Evans hit an inside-the-park homer and Jim Rice hit into a triple play. Bruntlett was playing second base for regular starter Chase Utley, who was given a day of rest by manager Charlie Manuel.
Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees collected his 2,500th hit with a single in the fifth inning against the Baltimore Orioles on September 2. He became the 89th player in MLB history to reach this mark. He also set a new American League record at seven (7), for most RBI in one inning by a single player by hitting a 3 run home run, and a grand slam later in the inning on October 4.
Ichiro Suzuki of the Seattle Mariners collected his 2,000th hit with a double in the first inning against the Oakland Athletics on September 6. Ichiro reached this mark in 1,402 games, which is the second fastest in history. (Al Simmons reached the mark in 1,390 games.) He then broke Willie Keeler's record of eight consecutive 200-hit seasons (1894–1901) with a single in the second inning of the nightcap of a make-up doubleheader on September 13 against the Texas Rangers.
Tony La Russa passed John McGraw for second-most games managed in baseball with his 4,770th game managed (2,552–2,214–4) on October 1. La Russa gets three more games (October 4) to extend his managed games to 4,773 (2,552–2,217–4) by the end of 2009.
Four F-16s Fly Over the new Yankee Stadium on its Opening Day on April 16, 2009
The 2009 season marked the opening of two new stadiums, both in New York City; Citi Field for the Mets and the new Yankee Stadium for the Yankees. They respectively replaced Shea Stadium (which was dismantled during the 2008–09 offseason) and the original Yankee Stadium (which will become a public park after it is demolished). Because of the smaller seating capacities in these new parks, Dodger Stadium is now the largest capacity park in use with 56,000 seats, and is also the third oldest ballpark in Major League Baseball behind Fenway Park and Wrigley Field. Citi Field opened with a night game on April 13 as the Mets hosted the San Diego Padres losing 6–5. In that game, Jody Gerut of the Padres became the first player in major league history to open a new ballpark with a leadoff homer. Three days later, the Cleveland Indians inaugurated New Yankee Stadium against the Bronx Bombers. The Indians won 10–2. On Jackie Robinson Day (April 15), a rotunda at Citi Field was named in honor of Jackie Robinson and was dedicated prior to the Mets–Padres game that day.
While not a new stadium, Kansas City's Kauffman Stadium completed a two-year renovation. The first year saw a new video board dubbed "Crown Vision" and refitting of several sections. Improvements for 2009 include a new glass and brick facade to the exterior of the ballpark, newly expanded team Hall of Fame, a new sports bar/restaurant, improved sightlines, new luxury suites and refurbished press and radio/TV facilities to name a few.
This would have marked the first full season in the USA for baseball games to be telecast as the transition from analog to digital television that was to have been made on February 17. However, the transition took place June 12.
A new entrant in the baseball television rights marketplace debuted on January 1 when the MLB Network, owned by Major League Baseball, joined Fox, ESPN and TBS not only televising games, but also other baseball-related programming from their studio in Secaucus, New Jersey, formerly the studios of MSNBC. MLB was the last of the four major team sports to start its own television channel. The national telecast breakdown, along with the maximum number of appearances per team, is:
FOX: Saturday afternoon Game of the Week on a regional basis; eight appearances per team. In addition, the network will broadcast the All-Star Game, ALCS, and World Series. The network started their telecasts on Saturdays at 4 PM US ET/1 PM US PT, except for three dates (April 18, and May 2 and 9) to adjust for NASCAR coverage, when those programs began at 3:30 PM ET/12:30 PM PT.
ESPN/ESPN2:Sunday Night Baseball on a weekly basis; five appearances per team. In addition, there are games on Monday and Wednesday nights (with the Monday games moving to either Wednesday nights to form a doubleheader or Friday nights when the 2009 NFL season begins), Opening Day games on April 6, and the Home Run Derby on July 13.
TBS: Sunday afternoon games starting on April 12; 13 appearances per team. In addition, the network carried the announcement of the All-Star Teams in the National and American Leagues on July 5 as well as the Division Series and the NLCS as per the alternating contract with FOX.
MLB Network: The network carries a weekly Thursday Night Game of the Week and Saturday Night Game of the Week. Thursday Night games were produced in-house, while Saturday Night games (except for the Civil Rights Game) usually came off the home team's video production. Blackouts applied here, as viewers in the competing team's markets were telecast an alternate game off the home team feed of selected teams.
In Canada, Toronto Blue Jays games will be televised on Rogers Sportsnet and TSN. RSN also holds the Canadian rights to air the Fox and ESPN/ESPN2 games if they do not conflict with Blue Jays games, as well as the All-Star Game and the entire postseason.
In Australia free to air channel One HD shows up to 5 games live per week, and European channel ESPN America broadcasts games as well.
ESPN Radio will once again serve as MLB's national radio network, broadcasting Sunday Night Baseball as well as selected Saturday and holiday games during the regular season, the Home Run Derby and All-Star Game, and all postseason series.
As stated earlier, the Mets and Yankees wore patches commemorating the inaugural seasons of their new parks, the Twins wore patches commemorating their final season at the Metrodome, and the Cardinals, hosting the All-Star Game, wore a patch to celebrate that event.
Other teams' memorials and accomplishments on their sleeves:
On July 4, all teams remembered the 70th anniversary of Lou Gehrig's farewell speech with a patch representing 4♦ALS charities.
The Cleveland Indians memorialized the life of former pitcher and announcer Herb Score by wearing a patch with his number (27), a microphone and the name "HERB" on the right sleeve of all uniforms.
The Kansas City Royals wore patches commemorating the 40th anniversary of the founding of their team.
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim added patches to all jerseys (excluding the sleeveless ones) which incorporates the words "Angels Baseball", the team logo, and 1961, the year the team was founded.
To honor long-time coach and scout Preston Gómez, who died in the offseason, a patch was added to the right sleeve of a black diamond with the word "Preston" on it.
After the death of Nick Adenhart, a rookie starting pitcher who was killed in a DUI hit-and-run following his first start of the season, a black patch with his name and number (34) was added above the left breast of the team's uniform.
The Twins also commemorated the passing of team owner Carl Pohlad, who died on January 5 with his signature on a black oval trimmed in silver.
The Philadelphia Phillies donned a black circular patch with the letters "HK" that was added to all uniforms over the player's heart as a tribute to Harry Kalas, who died on April 13 at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. In addition, the team wore a patch commemorating their win in the 2008 World Series until August 7 on their home uniforms.
The San Diego Padres wore patches commemorating the 40th anniversary of the founding of their team.
After the death of principal owner Sue Burns, the San Francisco Giants began wearing patches with the name "BURNS" on the right sleeves of their uniforms.
The Baltimore Orioles unveiled new uniforms, including the return of the city name on the road uniforms for the first time since 1972, a new patch which incorporates the Marylandstate flag, and a new logo featuring a revamped version of the ornithologically correct Oriole.
The Boston Red Sox went slightly retro, with the return of navy blue as the predominant road uniform lettering color, and the addition of an alternate hat featuring the modified "hanging socks" logo and navy blue road alternate jersey.
The Chicago Cubs wore only a single version of their cap. They stopped wearing their road cap (which had a red bill) and wore their former home cap (all blue with a red C) for all games. This change was also reflected on the batting helmets.
The Minnesota Twins celebrated the final season of the Metrodome by wearing a modernized retro 1982 uniform with buttons and belts instead of the pullover and knit-in belts for Saturday games and their home opener April 6 against the Mariners, and dropped their navy road alternate jerseys.
The New York Mets retired their black alternate road jersey with "NEW YORK" printed across the front. The black alternate home jersey with "Mets" printed across the front is now worn on the road as well.
The Philadelphia Phillies wore an additional gold trim on their Opening Night game April 5, and added an alternate batting helmet for their alternate home uniforms.
The Pittsburgh Pirates made jerseys with sleeves on their primary uniforms both home and away, and added a new black alternate with a Pirates' "P" on the left upper chest. The team has also changed their cap to place white outer trim around the "P".
The Tampa Bay Rays added an alternate jersey in navy with light blue soutache around the placket and sleeve ends.
The Texas Rangers dropped the team name from all uniforms in favor of their state name, and added a red alternate jersey and cap. Also, the letters and numbers on the jersey backs have been changed to match the "TEXAS" lettering on the front.
The Washington Nationals made some minor changes to their uniforms, and now use red as their predominant color. The home and primary alternate jerseys have been modified, a new navy alternate to be worn several times a year with a stars and stripes "DC" along with a new hat, changing the front of their red alternates from "DC" (with a corresponding red cap) to the primary script "W" (worn with their regular home red cap), and the road uniform now bears a fancy script "Washington" akin to the style worn by the Senators in the 1950s and 1960s, and their old incarnation, the Montreal Expos.
In addition to the afforementioned Civil Rights Game and game in Oakland, the White Sox, originators of the genre of replica throwback uniforms, commemorated the fiftieth anniversary of their 1959 American League Championship on June 25 against the team that they played in that World Series, the Los Angeles Dodgers, who opted to wear their regular uniforms instead, as manager Joe Torre did not want to create hype of a World Series that was 50 years ago.
The Tigers and the Cleveland Indians played in Negro League replicas twice, with the Tigers in Detroit Stars uniforms, and the Indians outfitted in Cleveland Buckeyes replicas. In a "home-and-home" style series, the Tigers hosting the Tribe July 11 at Comerica Park, with the Tigers in 1920 Stars uniforms and the Indians in the 1948 Buckeyes road grays, while the Indians played host August 1 at Progressive Field seeing Cleveland wearing Buckeyes home whites and the Tigers in the gray Stars uniform.
For their series against the San Francisco Giants beginning on August 14, the New York Mets wore cream-colored jerseys featuring an oversized blue "NY" on the front and a Mr. Met patch on the right sleeve. The throwback uniforms are similar to the ones the Giants wore in the early 20th century when they played at the Polo Grounds, where the Mets played their first two seasons.
On September 5 against the Rangers, the Orioles paid homage to the Baltimore Elite Giants by wearing replicas of their uniforms from 1949.
Once again during major American holidays and the September 11 weekend, all teams wore a cap with the cap logo in a stars and stripes motif (with the exception of the Toronto Blue Jays, whose cap logo is rendered in a maple leaf motif). The Cleveland Indians stars and stripes cap features a "C" instead of Chief Wahoo, since the Native American caricature emblazoned in stars and stripes caused some controversy when it debuted in 2008. As was the case in 2008, the proceeds from the sales of authentic caps will go to the Welcome Back Vets fund. The 2009 models are red as opposed to the navy blue caps from the previous season.
For the home opener for the Pirates vs the Astros, the Pirates wore the caps of the Pittsburgh Police Department (PPD) which had lost three officers and had two injured in a shootout on April 4, 2009. The Astros had them on before the game.