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. Gaston

    Next on Crane's to-do list: FIRE ED WADE!!

    November 17, 2011 at 9:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • OneTwo


      November 17, 2011 at 11:53 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Ban Johnson

    Over my dead body.

    November 17, 2011 at 9:48 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Realist


    November 17, 2011 at 9:50 pm | Report abuse |
  4. pmk1953

    Banasy, I don't have to cut grass. I live in an apartment complex. I hate to paint, but I'd rather paint than watch baseball. I used to love playing it, never liked watching it.

    November 17, 2011 at 10:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • TeeMan

      I am with you. Baseball is boring. Only fun when playoff starts because of advancing and eliminating.

      November 17, 2011 at 10:30 pm | Report abuse |
  5. 7thDwarf

    Good riddance to bad rubbish. NL Central is now all midwestern. Makes sense to me.

    November 17, 2011 at 10:03 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Michael Siever

    But moving the Astros to the AL won't help them do better. You want the Astros to play better, Jim Crane? Here's a solution: Get better pitchers. Moving to the AL alone isn't going to change anything, except how postseason is played.

    November 17, 2011 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Troy

      Good point keep Bud Norris and Wandy. The rest of those pitchers can go...put Carlos Lee at D.H. and well be fine

      November 17, 2011 at 10:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gary

      Carlos Lee will be long gone by the time Houston moves to the AL. Bud Selig is a snake oil salesman and needs to go before he damages the leagues any further. Why don't you let the fans decide who they want as rivals instead of ramming a rivalry down our throats.

      November 17, 2011 at 11:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael Siever

      What's really stupid is how is the postseason going to be played out? If there are 5 teams per league going to playoffs, how do we decide who plays who? With odd numbers of teams going to playoffs, one team in each league will have to sit out, and it will drag the season out even longer than before. We'll be lucky if the finish by mid-December. And when you throw in interleague play everyday, that will add to the confusion. Will they still do a 162-game regular season, or will they shorten it to, say, 135 games? I hope they add 2 more teams to even it out, so this mess gets sorted out before it becomes too big for MLB to handle. I agree with Tony in Phoenix. San Antonio, and Charlotte sound like great markets for more teams. Hell, I even already have a good idea for a San Antonio team: the Huey's, as in UH-1 military helicopters, as in attracts the male target demographic of MLB, and it honors our service members in San Antonio. It sells itself. If we add 2 more teams, then we can just take the 8 best teams, a la the NFL, and do best of 3, until the World Series, and get rid of year-round interleague play.

      November 18, 2011 at 4:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Michael Siever

      Scratch what I said about 8 teams per conference in the NFL, but the point is MLB's plan is idiotic.

      November 18, 2011 at 4:06 am | Report abuse |
  7. The right stuff

    A wild card in each league makes 32 teams, enough for four divisions of four teams in both the AL and NL. With four divisions, wild cards would not needed and there'd be a true division champion for all playoff games.

    November 17, 2011 at 10:27 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Bill

    Blasphemy on the Astros move. Get rid of DH period and let pitchers bat like baseball we played as kids, as well.
    And you better get pitchers to follow through (be ready to field) or someone will get killed in 2012.

    November 17, 2011 at 10:29 pm | Report abuse |
  9. horsesmouth

    this is done ONLY b/c they WILL expand the wild card, no other reason. To say that it has a lot to do with a rivalry (which doesn't exist yet, since they've never played each other is just false). If that's the case, then move either the Mets or Yankees to the other's League, do the same for Oakland and San Fran, Angels and Dodgers, Cubs and White Sox....etc etc. This is just for some more post season viewers, that's all.

    November 17, 2011 at 10:51 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Russ

    Great move. Welcome to the big leagues. The home of the Yankees!

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

    I would prefer a 7 game Division Series.

    November 17, 2011 at 11:22 pm | Report abuse |
  12. bigdoglv

    I can see it now. Aging bashers begging to go to Minute Maid Park. Could be a good move by the Stros.

    November 17, 2011 at 11:41 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Robert

    Ugh. That's all we need is more playoffs. I would love it if the season only had 150 games and the WS was in Sept. It's just too much. Another great move by MLB's worst commish ever. Never forget how he had his own team, the Brewers switched to the NL to get a piece of that sweet, sweet Cubs money.

    November 18, 2011 at 12:04 am | Report abuse |
  14. aggie95

    Nooooooooo! Keep my 'stros in the NL. Do not like the AL.

    November 18, 2011 at 12:37 am | Report abuse |
  15. tony in phoenix

    For a long time TX Rangers have been complaining that they want a team in their division that is in their own time zone or at least closer than all of the west coast teams. It would make things better for TX in terms of TV and travel. There had been talk previously about switching the Diamondbacks or Rockies into the AL W and switch another team into the NL.

    Now there will always be an interleague game every day. No more special hoopla.

    What makes more sense to me is to expand to two more teams. The population is growing and there are more imports from Latin America and Asia. There is plenty of talent to go around. I can think of at least two cities that have large populations and very little pro sports – San Antonio, TX and Charlotte, NC Two more teams would even things out to 16 in each league and 4 divisions of 4 teams in each league.

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