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.
I was curious about which MLB teams changed their fortunes the most this season compared to last year, so I crunched the numbers.
First, here are the biggest win total improvements from 2014 to 2015:
+10 Blue Jays
The top five teams on the biggest-improvement list all had managers in their first season on the job, led by Joe Maddon joining the Cubs after tons of success with the Rays. Also worth noting: Of the nine teams with the biggest win total improvement, eight made the playoffs. Only the Twins improved to double-digit games and still failed to make the playoffs.
Now, here are the biggest win total declines from 2014 to 2015:
Not surprisingly, a whole lot of those teams have changed managers, general managers, or both. And a couple more may still do so before the offseason gets underway. Oakland retained manager Bob Melvin despite an MLB-high 20-win dropoff and just promoted Billy Beane from general manager to vice president of baseball operations.
According to STATS, INC., the average game in 2015 was 2 hours, 56 minutes. That’s six minutes faster than games in 2014.
The gains came in the first half, when games averaged 2:53. Second half games averaged three hours even. One can probably thank the expanded rosters in September for that, as games then see many more pitching changes. Of course, it’s likely that second half games were faster in 2015 than 2014 as well given the rules changes.
Those changes: agreement to enforce the rule requiring a hitter to keep at least one foot in the batter’s box and the installation of clocks timing pitching changes and between-inning breaks in ever ballpark.
It remains to be seen if MLB stays satisfied with that modest improvement or if chooses to go the way Triple-A and Double-A leagues did. They installed 20-second pitch clocks and started penalizing violators with balls and strikes. Triple-A’s two leagues, the International and Pacific Leagues, saw game-time decreases by 13 and 16 minutes, respectively.