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. Portland tony

    Makes sense...but get away from that DH thing, or at least adapt it in both leagues.

    November 17, 2011 at 7:23 pm | Report abuse |
  2. vince

    lol sometimes I forget baseball exists...really boring to watch. fun to play though.

    November 17, 2011 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
  3. banasy©

    @Portland Tony:
    I agree! Never could understand that one, either...and I'm a White Sox Fan!

    November 17, 2011 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
  4. banasy©

    But then, NL pitchers bat, and AL pitchers don't...

    November 17, 2011 at 7:42 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Brian

    Agreed. DH in both leagues or not at all. It has to be consistent to be fair.

    November 17, 2011 at 7:47 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Interleague?

    So now we're going to need at least one interleague game every day. What are the plans here? This waters down the significance of the rivalries, and will probably hurt attendance drastically. Part of the original appeal of interleague games...in an effort to boost attendance...was the intrigue of rivalries that occur only once every 3 years.

    November 17, 2011 at 7:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • chip

      If the rivalries were interesting, before, they'll still be interesting. Mets/Yankees, Cubs/White Sox, Giants/A's – no less interesting when you spread them out than when you play them all at the same time. In fact might just be easier to catch them all now.

      November 17, 2011 at 9:33 pm | Report abuse |
  7. cloudjumper

    This is BS. This is all Bud Selig's doing. He has a chip on his shoulders for the Astros for some reason. No? Well how about this: 1. Hurricane hits Houston during the playoffs vs. Cubs and instead of moving the game from Houston to a fair weather venue, like Florida, Selig mandates the game be played in Milwaukee. Right next door to Chicago and his team's stadium so he can reap the revenue. 2. World Series in 2005, Selig mandates that the roof be closed, the exact opposite of what the home team, Houston wanted. Home field advantage gone so Selig's friend/lover? Reinsdorf's White Sox have the same open air they've played in at home. 3. Move the Astros to the AL even though Milwaukee came to the NL from the AL. Why not just send Milwaukee back? Because they're not the Astros.

    November 17, 2011 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse |
  8. banasy©

    Yeah, that screwed up our "Crosstown Classic" we had in Chicago. Not quite as much fun as it used to be...

    November 17, 2011 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
  9. uncledavid

    Since 1962 I believed. I bad-mounthed the AL since the DH. After all, how can it be the same game? There aren't the same number of people per side!!!! DANG.
    playing the Rangers is supposed to be a good thing? I would have preferred that we just give the Brewers Back.
    Anyone up for Occupy Minute Maid Park????

    November 17, 2011 at 8:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • SteveK77536

      "Anyone up for Occupy Minute Maid Park????"

      Actually, there is a law firm partner and a big 'Stros fan who read the lease at Minute Maid Park. He says it requires a "National League Team", so they can simply lock the doors and say, "No, no American League Team allowed." They could still play at, say, Rice University's baseball field, Reckling Park, very nice and seats about 5,000. More than enough for an AL Astros ...

      November 17, 2011 at 11:04 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Courtney

    Baseball died so many years ago. It is sad to see suck a noble game die. Inter-league, DH, and unfair advantage for big markets. They have the nerve to call it a World Series, but America doesn't even care about it. much less the World.

    November 17, 2011 at 8:31 pm | Report abuse |
  11. pmk1953

    I'd rather watch grass grow or paint dry. At least I can do them without supporting overpaid jocks playing a childhood game.

    November 17, 2011 at 8:39 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Dan

    This is the first step towards eliminationg divisions. The long term goal for the Networks, ESPN and MLB is to have the top five teams from the NL and AL to make the playoffs. This will allow a greater probability of the Yankees and Red Sox making the playoffs every year.
    If you don't care for inter-league games, there will be one every day.
    If you liked the playoff structure in baseball where most of the teams did not make the playoffs because they were not good enough, too bad.
    Mr. Selig's office needs to take control of the game back from TV executives.

    November 17, 2011 at 8:50 pm | Report abuse |
  13. banasy©

    I'd rather watch a baseball game than mow the grass *or* paint the house...

    November 17, 2011 at 8:56 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Splinter48708

    I guess Baseball overlooked the fact that the Pittsburgh Pirates, for 19 YEARS, have been the NL's greatest embarrassment. I really think that if any team had to switch leagues, it should have been the Pirates. A change in league would have been good for them and good for baseball.

    Instead, will the Pirates make 20 years of sub-500 ball? 20 years of getting their keisters kicked around by the NL teams...including the Cubs who haven't tasted the World Series since 1909...but, at least have made the playoffs in that time span.

    November 17, 2011 at 9:16 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Ser182

    Cloud jumper you hit it right out the park. Again they give f about the fan. Why not move Milwaukee back or just move the twins over in that division. Last I checked we are in the south not the west. Sorry Crane you gt bullied by selig. Houston just f by him too. They have lost a paying fan. Boycott the Astros till crane grows some and tells the commish to shove it.

    November 17, 2011 at 9:29 pm | Report abuse |
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