Houston Astros to switch leagues
The Astros' Matt Downs gets a high-five from base coach Dave Clark after hitting a home run September 26 in Houston.
November 17th, 2011
07:05 PM ET

Houston Astros to switch leagues

Major League Baseball’s Houston Astros will switch from the National League to the American League as soon as 2013, a stipulation to which the team’s incoming owners agreed, MLB said Thursday.

And Commissioner Bud Selig said baseball may soon expand its playoffs by adding a second wild-card spot to each league, MLB.com reported. But an MLB spokesman said that any potential postseason change is subject to negotiations on a new labor deal between baseball and the players’ union.

News about the Astros came as MLB team owners approved the team’s sale from Drayton McLane to a group led by Houston businessman Jim Crane. The deal was approved Thursday at the owners’ quarterly meetings in Milwaukee.

The league switch - which was a condition of the sale - will put the Astros in the American League West, the same division as the intrastate rival and defending American League champion Texas Rangers.

It also will give the leagues an equal number of teams - 15 each - for the first time since the Milwaukee Brewers moved from the American League to the National League in 1998.

Each of MLB’s six divisions will have five teams each when the move happens. Houston is currently one of six teams in the National League Central; its future division, the American League West, has four.

“There was a goal to have two 15-team leagues, and there were many reasons - logistical, competitive and otherwise - why this decision was in the game's best interest,” MLB spokesman Michael Teevan said in an e-mail. “An intradivision rivalry between the Astros and Rangers is one of them.”

The Astros franchise has been in the National League since it joined MLB as the Colt .45s in 1962.

Crane’s group initially opposed a league switch. But “it was made clear to us that anybody who owned the team would move to the American League,” Crane said at a news conference Thursday. “We sat down with baseball and Drayton, and we were able to come to a deal.”

MLB.com reported that for agreeing to the switch, Crane’s group effectively received a $70 million reduction from the $680 million purchase price. Crane said that the “money reported so far is fairly accurate.”

“This is a dream come true for us, and it’s been a lot of fun getting it done,” Crane said.

McLane, who has owned the Astros for 19 years, said he is selling the team for estate reasons, according to MLB.com.

Selig said Major League Baseball could soon expand the postseason by two teams, meaning 10 of MLB’s 30 teams would make the playoffs, according to MLB.com.

But Teevan said that no postseason changes have been finalized.

“Any potential changes remain subject to collective bargaining, which is ongoing,” Teevan said.

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Filed under: Baseball • Sports • Texas
soundoff (49 Responses)
  1. Sister

    well I suppose this endeth my baseball fan career. Now no one in this state will play real baseball.

    November 18, 2011 at 1:08 am | Report abuse |
  2. Mike

    Not my Bud.

    This move is expedient, not right.

    Bud this is just one more fan you've chased away from the game. At the least, you could be honest about why this happened, instead of trying to fan the flames of some inter-state rival BS. If that was the case, you could move the Dodgers or Giants to the American League. Wow, haveing Oakland and the Giants in the same division of the same league would really spark some interest, wouldn't it? no. for the same reasons this is a dress and lipstick on a pig.

    If you're going to force an NL team to move to the AL, move the Brewers back. Perhaps they never should have been moved in the first place.

    November 18, 2011 at 2:13 am | Report abuse |
  3. Daniel

    I say good riddance to Drayton McLane. He was really a poor owner and may have bought the team solely for the food concession.

    November 18, 2011 at 2:57 am | Report abuse |
  4. gung hoe

    @banasy sucks 2 b a sux fan GO TIGERS

    November 18, 2011 at 9:01 am | Report abuse |
  5. gung hoe

    @banasy sucks 2 b a sux fan GO TIGERS They wipe the field with the white sux

    November 18, 2011 at 9:23 am | Report abuse |

    1985 ROYALS!!! the best team ever... just wait till 2085

    November 18, 2011 at 9:30 am | Report abuse |
  7. klownboy

    Finally, good moves by MLB. Now both leagues have 15 teams and Texas has a natural rival in Houston. Love the wild card idea as well...

    November 18, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
  8. MStovall

    Bud Selig strikes again. Whereas he could have moved his pet Brewers back to where they belong, he chose to jerk around the fans of yet another team. "Regional rivalry with the Rangers" is a manufactured excuese, and as stated, could be used as an excuse to move the Yankees, or the White Sox, or the Giants to another league. All the National League rivalries that have been built over 50 years are thrown away. This brings the debacle that is the DH to yet another town, and forces National League fans in Houston to travel all the way to St. Louis or Atlanta to see real baseball. Having an odd number of teams in each league requires one team to either be idle every day, or be on interleague play, creating a scheduling nightmare. Yet another backwards move for the worst baseball commissioner that I can recall. It was extra-sleazy how he found the team in the weakest bargaining position (pending sale, waiting for league approval) and bullied them into this change, then justified it after the fact.

    November 18, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  9. klownboy

    Here is how MLB could do one better: http://theklowntimes.net/2011/11/18/loving-the-astros-move-to-the-al-and-wildcard-plan-in-mlb/

    November 18, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  10. tif31


    November 19, 2011 at 12:02 am | Report abuse |
  11. schillingsbloodysock

    oy vey. interleague year round is a little to much.

    November 19, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
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