Winter tree

What season is it?

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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.

Josh Johnson retires from baseball

PEORIA, AZ - FEBRUARY 21: Josh Johnson #55 of the San Diego Padres poses during Picture Day on February 21, 2014 at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
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Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.

Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.

Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.

Report: Angels close to a multi-year deal with Luis Valbuena

HOUSTON, TX - JULY 08:  Luis Valbuena #18 of the Houston Astros hits a three run walkoff home run in the ninth inning to defeat the Oakland Athletics 10-9 at Minute Maid Park on July 8, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
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The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.

Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.

Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.