Running through some end-of-the-year observations

Updated: October 4, 2009

Mark Cunningham/Getty Images

Toss out everything from this Mets season -- except the uniforms they wore Sunday. Keep those.

In 1984, the new wave band "The Nails" rerecorded their EP "88 Lines About 44 Women" for their debut album, "Mood Swing." Great song. Now that we're ready for what promises to be a wild and unpredictable postseason, our remarkable wealth of writing talent here on the ESPN.com MLB page will have it all covered for you. That leaves me out. So here in the spirit of "The Nails" '80s classic and with the shameless help of some run-on sentences, is some other stuff as we run through "60 Lines About 30 Teams" at the close of the 2009 regular season.

The Mets need to take that awful alternate black color out of their jerseys and caps. The clean, crisp, pinstripe blue design they wore on Sunday truly is an underappreciated classic baseball uniform and a look most Mets fans I talk to say should be much more prominent in their new ballpark.

The Nationals took a season ticket hit this year, but the organization does an excellent job of creating a warm baseball atmosphere in its gorgeous new ballpark. Stephen Strasburg is on his way and Ian Desmond, Ross Detwiler and Justin Maxwell will be players to watch in 2010 for supportive fans who are ready for a winner.

The Braves' superb late-season run included Chipper Jones having to ask fans to come out and attend games. Because of the population's transient nature, the Braves' fan base will always be Atlanta's temporary citizen thirtysomethings or barely interested natives wishing they were watching football or car racing instead.

The Marlins are fun to watch. I'd take Chris Coghlan, Dan Uggla and Cody Ross any time.

The Phillies have one rabid fan I know who always says, "They should have fired Charlie Manuel at last year's World Series victory parade." Is that quintessential Philly, or what?

The Cubs have a lot of money tied up in Alfonso Soriano and Milton Bradley, who may never deliver. Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez are critical, but injury-prone bats, while Carlos Zambrano and Ryan Dempster are both signed for huge money through 2012, and who can say with total certainty if either guy will again pitch at top form?

The Brewers' old Barrel Man logo is the second-greatest logo in pro sports history behind only the old New England Patriot -- and it's an extremely close second. The giant Barrel Man on the side of old County Stadium used to look spectacular from the highway as you drove into the games.

The Pirates have a jewel of a ballpark, but a lot of angry fans who point out that other organizations with limited payrolls are at least able to put a contending product out there. It must be hard to watch your key players leave at every trade deadline and all you get in exchange are other teams' spare parts.

The Reds always make me think of the late, great Joe Nuxhall. I was once listening to a Reds broadcast and heard Nuxhall say about a manager's mound visit to speak with a suddenly wild pitcher, "He's going out there to tell him three simple words: Get … the … ball … over."

The Astros got the breakthrough season they've been waiting for from Wandy Rodriguez. Roy Oswalt, Lance Berkman, Carlos Lee and Hunter Pence are great, but the organization needs to find someone who can get this group to play as a team instead of a bunch of individual parts that for some reason don't seem to fit together correctly.

The Cardinals win because they have starting pitching and they have "gamers." "Gamers" is a great undefined baseball term and I can't tell you exactly what it means, but Jason LaRue, Mark DeRosa, Brendan Ryan, Skip Schumaker and Colby Rasmus are all "gamers."

The Rockies suddenly have real concerns about their pitching, even though Aaron Cook appears to be back to form just in time for October. I'd be worried about the groin injury Jorge De La Rosa suffered Saturday night, Franklin Morales and his 20.77 ERA over his past nine appearances and Huston Street's stuff, which some are saying looks a bit flat.

The Dodgers need to have Clayton Kershaw start every postseason game. If not, they won't win.

The Giants need more than just one more bat because Pablo Sandoval led the team in batting average, home runs, RBIs and OBP this season. Everyone talks about the Giants' rotation, but their bullpen, notably Jeremy Affeldt, Bob Howry and Brian Wilson, was really underrated this year.

The Diamondbacks have that dirt line on their infield that stretches from the pitcher's mound all the way to the plate. A guy I know who helped put that line there says the idea was to make sure Arizona's field stood out so when you saw the TV highlights, you'd know you were watching the Diamondbacks.

The Padres' new CEO, Jeff Moorad, has impressed and says his rebuilt front office will emphasize the draft and player development. The Padres are not the lost cause you may think them to be: San Diego won nine of its last 12 series this season.

The Twins have always been stuck with the short end of their November 2007 deal with Tampa Bay, which saw them end up with Delmon Young and Brendan Harris after sending Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett to the Rays. Now, Young's sizzling bat over the past week or so is one reason why Minnesota will play the Tigers on Tuesday.

The Tigers' biggest late-season roster additions were Jarrod Washburn and Aubrey Huff. Now, Detroit is playing for its season on Tuesday after leading the Twins by seven games on Sept. 6.

The White Sox's acquisition of Jake Peavy will mean a great deal next season. The other good news is, it will likely mean a whole lot of "HE GONE!"s from The Hawk, Ken Harrelson.

The Royals' Zack Greinke has a similar delivery to the Giants' Tim Lincecum. I know Greinke doesn't drop that hand and baseball as low to the ground behind him as Lincecum does, but watch the way Greinke turns his body, leans back and hides the ball up to his release point. He looks a lot like Lincecum.

The Indians were one win away from the World Series in 2007 after winning 96 games in the regular season. After watching Cleveland drop to 81 wins last season and finish with 65 this year, you learn as a fan not to take any postseason visit for granted.

The Angels are a superbly run franchise that had the good sense to structure its entire organization around the Bill Belichick of Major League Baseball: Mike Scioscia. How about hoodies for every fan instead of the Rally Monkey and the Thunder Stix?

The Rangers have enough talent to make up the 10 games they finished behind the Angels this season, even if Matt Holliday decides to leave St. Louis for Anaheim this winter. Texas has a group of good, young pitchers who developed in its rotation this season, it's loaded with offense, and if you pass on Julio Borbon in your fantasy league draft next spring, you'll wind up hating yourself.

The Athletics watched their dynamic duo of 21-year-old starters, Brett Anderson and Trevor Cahill, both throw more than 175 valuable innings this season, and Andrew Bailey's rookie year included 26 saves and a 1.86 ERA in 67 appearances. Kurt Suzuki had a very nice season and was one of baseball's most overlooked catchers this year.

The Mariners got more than 32,000 fans for their finale on Sunday to watch King Felix win his 19th game. Go to a game at spectacular Safeco Field next year and you'll see that while so much of America overlooks the M's, the city of Seattle has a great thing going.

The Yankees have this year's AL MVP in Mark Teixeira. Joe Mauer was phenomenal, hitting .364 while catching every day in Minnesota, but Teixeira changed the Yankees as well as the balance of power in the AL East -- and not just this season, but for years to come.

The Red Sox experience at Fenway Park should always start with a stop at the "Sausage King" stand on the corner of Brookline Avenue and Lansdowne Street outside the park for an order of their steak tips. I guarantee it will be the best ballpark food you've ever had.

The Rays moved Scott Kazmir's $8 million for 2010 off their books, but they stuck themselves with Pat Burrell for next season at $9 million. They have to make a long-term decision on Carl Crawford, and with a depressing ballpark and only occasionally interested fans, you can argue that the Rays' window for winning may already have closed.

The Blue Jays need to go back full-time to the terrific Garth Iorg blue throwbacks they wore on Fridays this season. Go with the old logo again, ditch the hideous black-and-denim look that just never worked and embrace your classic old Ernie Whitt, Otto Velez, Exhibition Stadium blue.

The Orioles bum me out because they have an amazing history and a great fan base that deserves so much more than the organization has provided. That 98-win season was 12 years ago, and Baltimore hasn't seen a winning season since.

Finally, barring a massive, benches-clearing brawl at the Metrodome on Tuesday, my team will finish in the middle of the pack in our Umpire Ejection Fantasy League. If you're scoring at home, the formula for the winning team will wind up being Tim Timmons, Greg Gibson, Mike DiMuro, Paul Schreiber and Paul Nauert, who combined for 15 ejections this season. My big midseason trade of C.B. Bucknor for Dan Iassonga never did pan out.

Past Baseball Tonight Clubhouses: Oct. 1 | Sept. 30 | Sept. 29 | Sept. 28 | Sept. 27

WEB GEMS SCOREBOARD

Touch 'Em AllAll season, "Baseball Tonight" tracked Web Gems and offered up the leaderboard (teams and individuals) each Monday on the Baseball Tonight Clubhouse page.

Web Gem points were calculated by awarding five points for the night's top defensive play, four points for second, three for third, two for fourth and one for fifth. Scoring will be based on the Web Gems from the last "Baseball Tonight" show to air on a given night. Below are the final regular-season standings. Check out the Web Gems Awards Show at 8 p.m. on Oct. 26.

Web Gem points leaderboard
Ryan Zimmerman 61
Mark Reynolds 53
Jack Wilson 37
Brandon Inge 37

Web Gem appearances leaderboard (players)
Ryan Zimmerman Washington Third base 19
Brandon Inge Detroit Third base 13
Mark Reynolds Arizona Third base 13
David Wright New York Mets Third base 10
Jack Wilson Pittsburgh-Seattle Shortstop 9

Web Gem points leaderboard (teams)
Washington 141
Pittsburgh 133
Cincinnati 115


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BBTN ON THE AIR: MONDAY

TIME WHO'S ON?
10 p.m. ET
ESPN2
Host: Karl Ravech
Analysts: Dave Winfield, Peter Gammons, Eric Young

BBTN MINUTE: GETTING READY FOR TIGERS-TWINS

SIMON SAYS

Simon Says ESPN researcher Mark Simon digs deep, looking for the night's best baseball numbers.

Tonight, he looks at Alex Rodriguez, who closed his 2009 regular season with two homers and seven RBIs -- in one inning -- of a 10-2 win against the Rays.

30 HR, 100 RBI season
Playing fewer than 125 games (AL history)
Alex Rodriguez 2009
Manny Ramirez 2002
Manny Ramirez 2002
Albert Belle 1994
Frank Thomas 1994
Joe DiMaggio 1939
Jimmie Foxx 1939
Rudy York 1937

WEB GEMS

TOUCH 'EM ALL

Insider Who went deep? Keep track of all the home runs hit each day on "Baseball Tonight" and on the Baseball Tonight Clubhouse page. For more, check out the Home Run Tracker page.

Home Run Tracker
NAME HR OPPSITUATION
Prince Fielder, MIL46WellemeyerTop 9: 0-0, 1 Out. None on.
Prince Fielder, MIL45PineiroTop 5: 0-0, 2 Outs. None on.
Evan Longoria, TB33BurnettBot 1: 3-2, 2 Outs. None on.
Michael Cuddyer, MIN32YabutaBot 8: 2-2, 2 Outs. 1 on.
Alex Rodriguez, NYY30SonnanstineTop 6: 0-1, 2 Outs. Grand Slam.
Alex Rodriguez, NYY29DavisTop 6: 0-0, 0 Outs. 2 on.
Jason Kubel, MIN27HochevarBot 3: 0-0, 0 Outs. 2 on.
Jason Kubel, MIN26HochevarBot 1: 0-1, 1 Out. 2 on.
Pablo Sandoval, SF25WebbTop 10: 0-0, 0 Outs. None on.
J.D. Drew, BOS24PerezBot 6: 3-2, 0 Outs. None on.
J.D. Drew, BOS23OhkaBot 4: 2-2, 1 Out. None on.
Brad Hawpe, COL23PadillaTop 2: 1-2, 2 Outs. None on.
Nate McLouth, ATL20MartinBot 6: 0-1, 0 Outs. None on.

The complete list of Sunday's homers

SUNDAY'S BEST AND WORST

BEST
Jason Kubel• With apologies to Alex Rodriguez and his seven-RBI inning, the Twins needed a win to keep their season going, and Jason Kubel made sure that happened. Kubel belted a pair of three-run homers -- one in the first, another in the third -- as Minnesota blasted the Royals 13-4 to force a one-game playoff with the Tigers on Tuesday for the AL Central title. Kubel also added a single in his 3-for-4 day.
WORST
Rafael Perez• The Indians finished off a disappointing season with a pair of games that underscored why they finished last in the AL Central. On Saturday, their pitching staff, which allowed 865 runs, the third-highest total in baseball behind the Orioles and Nationals, gave up 11 runs in an 11-6 loss against the Red Sox. They served up 12 more in a 12-7 loss Sunday. The worst of the bunch Sunday was reliever Rafael Perez, who gave up three hits, a walk and four runs in only two-thirds of an inning.

A-ROD'S BIG DAY AT THE PLATE

NUMBERS TO KNOW

Scott BakerRick Porcello The Tigers head to Minnesota for a one-game playoff to decide the AL Central on Tuesday. They will face 15-game winner Scott Baker, and they would be wise to jump on him early.

Compared to Detroit starter Rick Porcello, Baker is much more vulnerable on the first pitch, and much less vulnerable when he gets ahead in the count.

BA against by count (2009)
Baker Porcello
First pitch .360 .264
HR on first pitch 4 0
Even count .277 .238
Pitchers' count .169 .257
Hitters' count .378 .322

It appears the Tigers might have already figured this out. In the four games against Baker this season, Detroit has gone 9-for-16 (.563) against him on the first pitch, and just .290 on all other counts.

-- ESPN Stats & Information