With MLB Commissioner Bud Selig saying he wants realignment by 2013 and Jim Crane negotiating a price break on his purchase of the team, it’s all but certain the Houston Astros are moving to the American League West.
Selig made his comments about realignment during his annual World Series press conference, held before Game Four. The move would put 15 teams in each league, which does even out the divisions (three divisions of five) but poses some challenges on the scheduling front, as you’d basically have interleague play of some sort all season.
In the end, the move of Houston makes the most sense because it does the least damage. Houston’s always been the odd team out in the National League Central; yes, the Astros are in the same time zone as Milwaukee and the Cubs, but that doesn’t mean good rivalries were ever formed. A move to the American League West sets up a nice rivalry with the Texas Rangers as well.
Of course, it’s more complicated than that. The sale of the team by Drayton McLane to Jim Crane is a perfect time to make the shift, and Crane knows it; he’s smart enough to turn a rather tenuous sales situation into a strength, demanding some $50 million from Major League Baseball to move. His logic: road trips to the West Coast will cause an additional 10-15 games a year to start late, leading to lower ratings on the cable network the teams is setting up for the 2013 season and beyond. That’s probably a little more than Bud and crew are willing to pay, but chances are good Crane will be given a little money and the opportunity to buy the team (remember, he’s not been approved) in exchange for the move.
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