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An Over the Monster investigation: When does the second half start?

The people demand answers.

Boston Red Sox v Washington Nationals
What half is it? No one knows!
Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

A few days ago I introduced Game 82 by declaring it the start of the second half of the season and an otherwise good and correct Twitter friend of mine told me to go to hell:

What he is referring to, which you and I both know, is that typically the “second half” of the year means the portion of the baseball season after the All-Star break, which is coming up in a couple weeks. It is effective shorthand and I use it regularly but, as I wrote to John, I eschewed it because if you do the lineups post every day you’ll take any potential hook you can get. Game 82 presented a hook, and I took it, even if it’s not typical baseball usage.

The real question is: Who’s right? When does the ‘second half begin?’ Let’s evaluate the cases (despite the fact you made up your mind as soon as you saw the headline), because I owe Matt a column and do not want to anger him. (It’s Jake I like to troll.)

Case 1: The second half starts at Game 82

I learned math when I was very young and I remember it, and 81 is half of 162, which means the second half would start in Game 82. Ball don’t lie on this, of course, but I think there’s a distinction to be made between the “second half of the schedule” and the “second half of the season” that actually works against this argument. That’s right: I’m already debating myself.

Game 82 is, for any given team, the first game of the second half of the schedule, because no team is scheduled to play more than 162 games. They may do so because they may make the playoffs or play well enough to force a tiebreaker, and they may play 161 games because of a rainout that ultimately does not need to be made up, but the majority of teams in baseball will play 162 games in a season, no more and no less.

From this perspective we are on solid ground calling Game 82 the start of the second half of the schedule, if not the second half of the season. It’s just a matter of what we mean by “second half” without explaining it any further -- is the inside-baseball terminology of “second half” meaning “after the All-Star break” so precious that we cannot deviate from it? Let us consider that argument now, but spoiler alert: No!

Case 2: The “second half” starts after the All-Star game and not a moment before

The important thing to remember — so important that I’m repeating it despite the fact I just wrote it — is that the baseball season is not the same as the schedule. The baseball season runs through the end of October and sometimes into November. There is a whole series of games, called the playoffs, that extend the season an extra month, though good luck explaining that to Orioles fans. From *our* vantage point, the ASB, timed as it is, divides the year in half much more effectively than game 82.

To be honest, I don’t think that’s why the “second half” of the year traditionally starts after the All-Star break. I think that’s more a vestige of “good enough” baseball terminology, and the All-Star Game is close enough to the middle of the season that “good enough” has worked for a solid set of decades.

Point is, the All-Star Game has worked as the de facto midpoint of the season because it feels like the midpoint of the year, from both the standpoint of the playoffs dragging on and April baseball passing rather anonymously in the bitter cold, so anonymously that mid-July feels like the centerpoint of the schedule as well of the season (which it is not!). Of course this eliminates spring training entirely from the equation, which I think is a fair trade-off because it’s not real baseball. The question was, and is, when does the “second half” of real baseball begin? Is it after Game 82, after the All-Star break, either or both?

So who’s right?

Me. They are both right. The second half of the schedule starts at Game 82, because 82 more than half of 162. The “second half” of the season begins after the All-Star break by tradition and acclamation, but the existence of neither “second half” stops the other one from being valid. This is my decision and it is final, correct and binding. Any problems, find me on Twitter. Be as mean as possible. Trolls deserve trolls no matter what time of year it is.