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What season is it?

Nov 22, 2010, 1:34 PM EDT

Winter tree

As I wait for the NL MVP to be announced — likely the only real news that will be had today — I find myself struggling with something:  when do we start calling 2010 “last season?”  When do we start calling 2011 “this season.”  More importantly, what do we call them now?

Let’s start easy: it’s probably safe to call 2010 “last season” now. The only possible issue with this will be when we talk about who just won the awards — I still think of Felix Hernandez as “this season’s Cy Young Award winner” — but that will end soon, and the award winners will be just as much a part of “last season” as Dallas Braden’s ridiculous references to the area code whence he came.

2011 is much harder.  My quick broaching of the topic on Twitter has made it pretty clear that people do not yet feel comfortable calling 2011 “this season.” Indeed, the consensus is that we’re in a dead zone when we can only have a “last season” and a “next season” and nothing in between.  This saddens me, because it just underscores how bereft of baseball we are.  What’s more, it’s not 100% accurate inasmuch as teams are assembling rosters as we speak, laying the important groundwork for 2011. Something is happening that part of me feels must be considered as a component of the active season.  Though the tree has shed its leaves and appears dead to the world, it still lives.

But my emotional needs aside, I’ll grant that 2011 is not yet “this season.”  But when does it become “this season?”

  • I will not be subject to the tyranny of the calendar. January 1st is a non-starter as far as I’m concerned, as it has no organic relationship to baseball, which has its own calendar that can be easily navigated without reference to the names of the months (“October” being the only possible exception).
  • Someone in the Twitterverse suggested Opening Day. This is far too late for me. We are way, way too invested in actual on-the-field activity before then.
  • Pitchers and catchers reporting, then?  It may be the majority position. It still feels too late for me, though. And it’s not like we’re sticking with it: “truck day” has become an increasingly big thing, and if we’re marking the departure of equipment, it must be significant.

I could go earlier than that, though. Sometime between now and early February is when the rhetorical calendar has to flip.  The sooner the better for me, as I dislike constructions such as “this upcoming season” or “the current offseason” or “that time, far off, when baseball begins anew and the long dreary winter has left us at last.”  Which comes up all the time, don’t you know.

Here’s my take:  I’m going to the Winter Meetings in a couple of weeks. When I’m down there, I’m going to perform a little pagan ceremony, the specifics of which will be between me, the beverage I am drinking and whoever happens to be within shouting distance.  When it’s over, 2011 will be referred to as “this season” on this blog.

Well, at least by me.  I’m guessing Gleeman, Pouliot, Short and Silva all feel differently about it.

  1. Navin Vaswani - Nov 22, 2010 at 1:40 PM

    GREATEST. POST. EVER.

  2. Jeremiah Graves - Nov 22, 2010 at 1:41 PM

    As far as I’m concerned, the switch happens as soon as the Winter Meetings start. That’s when the 2011 rosters start getting shaped in earnest and when most players are officially separated from their old teams.

  3. Utley's Hair - Nov 22, 2010 at 1:51 PM

    You can’t have a 2011 season until, at the very least, the calendar says 2011. That said, I say 2011 doesn’t start until Opening Day. 2010 ends when the very last award is bullied into the recipient’s hands. And then begins the offseason abyss.

    • tomemos - Nov 22, 2010 at 2:48 PM

      So 2011 isn’t “this season” even during Spring Training 2011?

      • Utley's Hair - Nov 22, 2010 at 3:18 PM

        No. It’s not the real season until the records and stats count.

    • Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Nov 22, 2010 at 4:30 PM

      Sounds a bit too black and white to me. I say the 2011 season kicks off when pitchers and catcher report OR when my fantasy baseball draft is, which ever comes first.

      Sorry Craig, but we are in a state of limbo, better known as “the off season”. There’s no other word to describe it other that or the sometimes used “poo poo time”.

      • Utley's Hair - Nov 22, 2010 at 4:32 PM

        It’s snark replenishment time.

  4. skipperxc - Nov 22, 2010 at 1:54 PM

    “This saddens me, because it just underscores how bereft of baseball we are.” As it turns out, that’s pretty much my feelings on the existence of this post. God bless the offseason, amirite?

    More to the point, the Winter Meetings seem to be a logical place to mark the turn.

  5. Jonny 5 - Nov 22, 2010 at 2:06 PM

    “Drop the last year into the silent limbo of the past. Let it go, for it was imperfect, and thank God that it can go.”

    I heard Papelbon was chanting this over and over again..

  6. frankvzappa - Nov 22, 2010 at 2:30 PM

    i believe this season begins when Cliff Lee signs on the dotted line

    • Utley's Hair - Nov 22, 2010 at 2:51 PM

      So the baseball calendar hinges on the Arkansas hunting season? How fair is that?

  7. iranuke - Nov 22, 2010 at 2:43 PM

    I’m of the opinion that you could start using the term “this season” to describe anything associated with the upcoming season for any comments after the last major award of the 2010 season is given out, or sometime in the next week.

  8. elric718 - Nov 22, 2010 at 2:52 PM

    Teams are always planning for and sometimes spending money on next season, so that is not the issue.

    We are still talking about awards for 2010, plus the World Series is sometimes (will be?) played in November. So it is confusing to say any day in November is next season.

    I say no earlier than December 1st, but if you want to wait for the start of meetings, then fine.

  9. fuggles7 - Nov 22, 2010 at 2:53 PM

    I’ve always considered Groundhog Day (February 2) as the official start of the new season. That is the harbinger of spring, and of course spring is baseball!

  10. yankeesfanlen - Nov 22, 2010 at 3:09 PM

    I’m on your timetable. Now in a couple of weeks I can refer to the Universe as “This season’s World Champions”.

  11. Professor Longnose - Nov 22, 2010 at 3:43 PM

    I think you should revisit the calendar option, because one of the cool little things about baseball is that the season takes place within one year. You don’t have to do that stupid “the 2009-2010″ season that the other sports do, and when someone gets called “the 1993 NFL champs” you don’t have to mentally think, “Gee, is that the year they won the Super Bowl, or the year they started the season?”

    We could start petitioning MLB to do something baseball related on January 1–some roster thing or free-agent deadline or something–or bloggers could start an “opening the new season” tradition and start listing rosters or making predictions, or rounding up what clubs still need to do. And since you bullied the sportswriters into picking King Felix as Cy Young winner, it should be easy to bully them into recognizing January 1 as the start of the new season.

    • Eric Solomon - Nov 22, 2010 at 4:02 PM

      I think you’re on to something there, Professor! Craig – you should circle the wagons and have all the baseball bloggers do something on 1/1/11 as a semi-official kickoff to the 2011 season.

      • Utley's Hair - Nov 22, 2010 at 4:04 PM

        It’s Picket Fences Day!!!!!!

  12. elpendejo59 - Nov 22, 2010 at 4:25 PM

    The answer is simple. From this day forward, the day each year on which Jeff Francoeur signs a Minor League deal with his team for the year shall mark the flip of the baseball calendar.

  13. Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Nov 22, 2010 at 4:38 PM

    One more point (to answer the question in the headline of this post): It’s Autumn, Craig.

    • Utley's Hair - Nov 22, 2010 at 4:41 PM

      He’s in the Midwest, so his confusion is understandable.

      • Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Nov 22, 2010 at 4:49 PM

        As a Chicago resident, that excuse is not allowed. Although, I learned when I moved here that if at any time you don’t like the weather, just to wait an hour.

  14. ta192 - Nov 22, 2010 at 5:13 PM

    Like it or not, it’s not 2011’s season until it’s 2011, so, January 1st…

  15. Old Gator - Nov 22, 2010 at 6:29 PM

    We don’t talk much about this kind of shit in the 2011.

  16. Innocent Bystander - Nov 22, 2010 at 8:56 PM

    January 1.

    But since you don’t like that, I’ll offer another alternative. How about the day individual game tickets go on sale? Tickets on sale, you pop on the internet to find the only Yankees game with decent seats left is a random Tuesday in April against the Royals. Make the purchase anyway. Now “this season” has begun. You have tickets for “this season”. You are an active participant in “this season”. It’s not a passive activity for you like awards, free agent signings, flipping the calendar, spring training, etc.

    What do you think?

  17. sportsdrenched - Nov 23, 2010 at 2:20 PM

    I agree that this might be the greatest post ever.

    However, I have to disagree with Winter Meetings being the start of “next” Season. Important moves will be made there, but important moves are made all year round anyway. The biggest problem is it’s too early. It’s not even 2011…In fact the Sun will not even have started it’s path back to spring and summer glory. That has to happen for me to mentally turn the page on “last” season.

    Truck Day is about logistics, and logistics aren’t all that interesting.

    While this site is MLB Specific, many of us don’t live in ML markets so we go to college and minor league games. College Baseball starts on Feb 18th in 2011. So the tickets thing doesn’t work for me.

    I have to go with Picthers & Catchers Reporting Day. There are baseball players actually throwing baseballs, and working out…outside. Some of them could get injured. Managers are giving lip service to the media that has pryed itself away from college basketball, and it’s Mid-Feburary so real spring isn’t that far off.

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