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“This season?” “Last season?” “Next season?” What season is it?

Dec 7, 2012, 2:30 PM EDT

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A tweet from my friend Cee Angi a few minutes ago once again raised the question of how we should refer to the 2012 season and the 2013 season. Specifically, when does the former cease being “this season and become “last season” and when does the latter cease being “next season” and become “this season.” And, for that matter, what in the hell do we call where we are right now?

I tackled this two years ago. But to review my stance on it, with the proviso that I am not in favor of us ever having a time when there is no “this season” because that is truly sad:

  •  I will not be subject to the tyranny of the calendar. January 1st is a non-starter for switching from “this season” to “last season” 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).
  • Opening Day is far too late for me for the change. We are way, way too invested in actual on-the-field activity before then.
  • Pitchers and catchers reporting is too late too, because everyone is well into thinking about the upcoming season for that.

So figure it out, everyone. I’m probably just gonna make it up each time I write something anyway.

  1. nctaxpro - Dec 7, 2012 at 2:34 PM

    “Wabbit season! Duck season! Elmer season!”

    • indaburg - Dec 7, 2012 at 2:37 PM

      In Florida, it’s python hunting season.

      • Old Gator - Dec 7, 2012 at 3:06 PM

        How many hapless idiots are going to wander into the Everglades with visions of dollar signs dancing in their heads (where there’s plenty of room for dancing) and never be seen again – except maybe in an x-ray of a bulging python, sandwiched between two raccoons and a bluetick hound?

      • Utley's Hair - Dec 8, 2012 at 2:33 AM

        Not enough?

  2. Francisco (FC) - Dec 7, 2012 at 2:36 PM

    After the world series is over that’s when the 2012 season ends. Everything done after that can only affect the next season, including off season trades, signings, rule 5 drafts, etc. Therefore I proclaim we are in the 2013 off-season which is part of the 2013 season. Baseball activity is year-round.

    • indaburg - Dec 7, 2012 at 2:43 PM

      Very logical, FC. I completely agree. Let it be declared that the minute the World Series ended, the season was officially over. The term “Next Season” at that point henceforth is in reference to the 2013 season. Any activity currently occurring can only affect the 2013 season (without involving the space-time continuum or a tesseract but that’s another topic altogether), therefore this is the 2013 off-season.

    • Chris Fiorentino - Dec 7, 2012 at 3:01 PM

      Agree 100%. Right now, it is off-season. Not this season. Not next season. Not last season. To me, a season can only be referred to as “this”, “last” or “next” when you are referring to a particular game during that season. When there are no games, it is the “off-season”.

      i.e. The Phillies sucked “last season”. Hopefully, they won’t suck “next season” because they signed Josh Hamilton during “the 2013 off-season”

      • Cris E - Dec 7, 2012 at 3:03 PM

        Agree: if the season is over there is currently no “this” season. It is null and should not be referenced.

      • Cris E - Dec 7, 2012 at 3:04 PM

        Whoops: after the start of spring training there is once again baseball and thus we return to “this” season. (I’m feeling pedantic today…)

    • davidpom50 - Dec 7, 2012 at 3:16 PM

      But there’s still plenty of 2012 clean-up after the end of the 2012 World Series – awards and what not. I propose the beginning of the Winter Meetings, which is when the free agent signing and the trading season really kicks off.

      • umrguy42 - Dec 8, 2012 at 8:28 PM

        Ah, but you could use the construction “this past season” for the awards (if you had to), bridges the gap nicely, I think.

  3. Old Gator - Dec 7, 2012 at 2:39 PM

    No man knows the times or the seasons of…uh….the season.

    Meh. Quoting the Gospels will only get you in deeper trouble.

    Let’s put it this way: this season becomes last season with the final out of the World Series, whereupon “next season” becomes this coming season, remaining as such until pitchers and catchers report.

    It’s less complicated than leap year. It really is.

  4. joshtown81 - Dec 7, 2012 at 2:42 PM

    I feel like saying January 1st being a non-starter is a bit of an overstatement don’t you think? People refer to nearly everything as this year vs. last year, so for 99% of people on January 1st it’s easier to call 2012 “last season” and the 2013 season “this season,” since it’s happening in present time.

    “This” is defined by Webster as: the one nearer or more immediately under observation or discussion. So if that applies, the 2012 season is still “closer” in time, thus still making it “this” season. Come Jan and into Feb, when pitchers/catchers report, it becomes “this” season again, because we are now close to or at the start of the 2013 season.

    • albertmn - Dec 7, 2012 at 5:30 PM

      I kind of agree with the January 1st. Most people I talk to refer to “this year”, or “next year”, rather than actually referring to the “season”. So, in that case, “this year” would make sense to reset on January 1. Besides, do Cubs fan moan “there’s always next year”, or “there’s always next season”? I believe I hear “year” more than “season”. Your results may vary.

  5. Stiller43 - Dec 7, 2012 at 2:42 PM

    2012 is already last season. Its the offseason. Once spring training starts its this season (2013)

    • indaburg - Dec 7, 2012 at 3:03 PM

      I disagree that the season starts once spring training starts. Nothing that happens during spring training affects the actual season, so it cannot be the start of the season. Spring training is its own entity.

      • Francisco (FC) - Dec 7, 2012 at 3:50 PM

        Nothing that happens during spring training affects the actual season

        Not quite. What if someone gets injured during ST? That definitely affects the actual season.

      • indaburg - Dec 7, 2012 at 4:10 PM

        I see your point, and I should have been more specific. I meant from a statistics perspective. Stats from spring training are not carried over into the regular season. In theory, injuries during the off-season can also affect the season, but we don’t call the off-season the season.

    • Detroit Michael - Dec 7, 2012 at 3:08 PM

      I agree with Stiller43. There is no “this season” right now, as evidenced by this very debate. We’re in the off-season. Once pitchers and catchers report, then “this season” can unambigously refer to 2013.

  6. Stiller43 - Dec 7, 2012 at 2:42 PM

    Or pitchers reporting. Whichever

  7. fanofevilempire - Dec 7, 2012 at 2:48 PM

    I hope I won’t have to read this next season, or the season after that.

  8. dawgpoundmember - Dec 7, 2012 at 2:50 PM

    I would agree with FC that the final out of the world series is the best way to determine whats the end because….
    1. MVP, Cy Young, Gold Glove etc. awards are handed out after the season but
    2. Teams that have already been eliminated before the world series have already begun negotiations with players who’s contracts have expired

  9. Mark Armour - Dec 7, 2012 at 2:53 PM

    On a related matter, when is “next weekend”? On Monday, it clearly means the one that starts in five days. But on Friday, like today, it would mean the one that starts in eight days. This has caused numerous misunderstandings in my life. When does the switch get made?

    • Detroit Michael - Dec 7, 2012 at 3:10 PM

      In Michigan, others (not me) often will see “next weekend” on Monday to mean not the one starting in four-five days but the one after that. I’m a fairly literal person, so I find it confusing that “this coming weekend” and “next weekend” are not synonymous terms.

      I have no idea whether that usage confusions exists elsewhere in the country.

      • davidpom50 - Dec 7, 2012 at 3:20 PM

        Well, I find it confusing that “next weekend” to you is not synonymous with “the end of next week.”

      • davidpom50 - Dec 7, 2012 at 3:22 PM

        I also find it confusing that we include the first day of the week (Sunday) in the “weekend.”

  10. hisgirlgotburrelled - Dec 7, 2012 at 2:57 PM

    FC is right in that as soon as the world series ended 2012 became last season.

    As tough a time as you have saying there is no “this season” I can’t say “this season” in December of 2012 and be talking about something that starts in April 2013. It’s limbo, and it’s sad, and you know it, so put your big boy pants on and push through.

    Of course, you could just look up the MLB rules as to the last day of the “league year,” if that’s easy enough to find. I know for the NFL they refer to the “league year” with cuts and signings all the time.

  11. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Dec 7, 2012 at 2:59 PM

    “This” is present tense, and there is no baseball at present. 2012 is last season; 2013 is next season. I would say that sometime around January and the BSOHL wave we can start calling 2013 “this” season, as our focus has completely shifted from analyzing 2012 to anticipating 2013.

    • Gamera the Brave - Dec 7, 2012 at 5:37 PM

      Normally I would agree with you, but apparently BSOHL season started TODAY…

  12. kardshark1 - Dec 7, 2012 at 3:01 PM

    There’s always a period in between the World Series ending and pitchers and catchers reporting that I go AWOL for about 4-5 weeks from baseball news and the constant checking of websites. Either the holidays or an extended vacation distracts me and keeps me out of the loop. At the end of that down period is when I go from “next” to “this”.

  13. tvguy22 - Dec 7, 2012 at 3:02 PM

    There’s always this last next season year. Or something like that.

  14. Utley's Hair - Dec 7, 2012 at 3:10 PM

    In a related question, can Feesh and Stros fans just skip next season…or this season…or this coming season…or whatever?

  15. bouwel92 - Dec 7, 2012 at 3:16 PM

    I say that once spring training begins, then it is officially the start of a new season.

  16. kvanhorn87 - Dec 7, 2012 at 3:17 PM

    Last season the second the World Series parade is done. Next season from then until pitchers and catchers. This season from that day on.

  17. mcs7584 - Dec 7, 2012 at 3:17 PM

    This reminds me of the argument my wife and I have about that period of time between the top half and bottom half of an inning. For example, I’ll say, “Giants are up 2-0 in the middle of the sixth.” (She’s a Giants fan.) She’ll get on me for it. If the top half is over, then it’s automatically the bottom half, even if that half of the inning hasn’t started, she says, which it doesn’t until the first pitch is thrown, imo. So while I wouldn’t say the same logic applies to these dreadful four months of the year with no baseball, to me, the 2012 season is over, thus, it’s last season. But it’s not exactly “this” season yet, as it’s 2013. I’m not suggesting that we base it on Jan. 1, as Craig points out is an irrelevant date in the baseball year. The Baseball New Year, for me, is the day pitchers and catchers report although one could make the case for Truck Day, too. If I lived in a city with an MLB team, I could get into that.

    • geoknows - Dec 7, 2012 at 3:22 PM

      That’s crazy. She may be technically right in saying that if the top half is over it’s automatically the bottom half, but saying “middle of the sixth” is far more descriptive. You know absolutely without a doubt that the top half is over and activity in the bottom half has yet to commence. If you went ahead and said bottom half you couldn’t be sure of that.

    • davidpom50 - Dec 7, 2012 at 3:29 PM

      mcs, I agree with you, but for the sake of your marital life, you can switch your phrasing to “Giants are losing 2-0 (sorry, I’m a Dodger fan… all examples must involve the Giants losing) going into the bottom of the 6th.” I don’t like it as much as “middle of the 6th,” but it might appease your wife.

      • mcs7584 - Dec 7, 2012 at 10:16 PM

        “There’s something about this appeasing thing but no matter how many people tell you that, you don’t seem to get it.” -My Wife.

  18. geoknows - Dec 7, 2012 at 3:18 PM

    2012 is Last Season. 2013 is Next Season. There is nothing we can refer to as This Season at the moment, because we are between seasons.

  19. mcs7584 - Dec 7, 2012 at 3:19 PM

    Correction: But it’s not exactly “this” season yet, as it’s NOT YET 2013.

  20. kvanhorn87 - Dec 7, 2012 at 3:20 PM

    For all the SM dorks, they and only they may refer to the current period as the Upcoming Season just to feel special.

  21. ultimatecardinalwarrior - Dec 7, 2012 at 3:31 PM

    I disagree, Craig. We all feel the pain of not having being in season, but I for one choose to stare straight into the face of the offseason, and refer to it as it is. There is no “this season” right now. There is only “last season” or “this past season” and “next season.”

  22. randygnyc - Dec 7, 2012 at 4:12 PM

    Old Gator is right, because words matter. Once the World Series ends, that becomes last lesson. Until pitchers and catchers report, that is the upcoming season, or purgatory, which is where we presently find ourselves.

  23. bh192012 - Dec 7, 2012 at 4:13 PM

    “I will not be subject to the tyranny of the calendar.”

    If that’s the case, then what is this 2012 thing you’re talking about? Certainly can’t be related to calendars, since you’re not subject to them. Also, it’s Winter. :>

  24. El Bravo - Dec 7, 2012 at 4:18 PM

    It doesn’t HAVE to be 1/1, but clearly it makes the most sense, so deal.

    • El Bravo - Dec 7, 2012 at 4:19 PM

      Also, it’s Huntin’ Season.

      • El Bravo - Dec 7, 2012 at 5:01 PM

        Or what I said two years ago: “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”.”

  25. belichickrulz - Dec 7, 2012 at 4:57 PM

    Unlike the other major sports (NFL, NBA, NHL), the MLB season doesn’t straddle years. So on 12/7/12, “this season” refers to the 2012 season, “next season” refers to the 2013 season and “last season” refers to the 2011 season.

    Are people really staying away nights trying to figure this out? Geez!

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