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The pros and cons of moving the Astros to the AL

Aug 15, 2011, 1:33 PM EDT

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The realignment talk of a couple of months ago has largely died down and it isn’t likely to be part of the new collective bargaining agreement this winter, but Zach Levine reports that it’s still being discussed, with the Astros the most likely candidate for shuffling.

Of particular interest is Levine’s breakdown of the pros and cons of all of the potential moves. Or, at the very least, the potential moves which have been floated in recent months, including Astros-to-the-AL, Astros-to-the-NL West and some other team like the Diamondbacks to the AL and doing nothing.  It’s a pretty thorough handling of it all.

Most of the drawbacks mentioned, though, are sort of soft drawbacks. As in, I know that people get worked up about them, but they’re merely hangups, not concrete obstacles. Stuff like rivalry implications (do we really care?) and constant interleague play (again, do we really care?).

It’s a back burner issue now, but it will bubble up again sometime in the next few months, so arm yourself with knowledge now.

  1. halladaysbiceps - Aug 15, 2011 at 1:43 PM

    I would argue that the Brewers or one of the expansion teams (Rockies, Marlins, Diamondbacks) should go to the American League before the Astros, especially with the tradition that the Astros have in the NL as well as being in the NL the longest. Also, there is already a team in Texas that is in the American League. But, with that all said, I am in favor of contraction to balance the two leagues out.

    • kopy - Aug 15, 2011 at 2:05 PM

      I agree here. MLB has always seemed to prefer making sure that teams in the same state were in different leagues (except Pennsylvania). I don’t understand why all of a sudden people are raving about how great it would be to have two close cities like Houston and Dallas in same league when it’s bucking a decades-long trend.

      My personal preference would be to move Milwaukee to the AL.

    • seanmk - Aug 15, 2011 at 2:11 PM

      there will be expansion before there would be contraction. I don’t know what your point is about Texas having a team in the american league so it can’t have two. it’s not like it’s in the same city. last i checked there are quite a few states with multiples teams in the same league:california has 3 in the NL and 2 in the ALand pennsylvania has 2.

      • halladaysbiceps - Aug 15, 2011 at 2:17 PM

        Sean, realistically, you are right. They will not contract. Darth Selig will continue to allow these dead weight teams to collect revenue from bigger markets and stay afloat. So, you are right. He may even want to expand to 34 teams before he passes, being that he will not give up the job.

      • paperlions - Aug 15, 2011 at 4:00 PM

        It has nothing to do with Selig, and everything to do with the cost to the owners. It would cost the owners, as a group, 100s of millions of dollars to buy and contract a team….in contrast, the owners (NOT SELIG) make (as a group) hundreds of millions of dollars by charging franchise fees for expansion.

        Focusing your hate toward Selig just means he is doing his job well. A major part of the job of a commissioner is to deflect blame for unpopular decisions from the owners, who are the people that actually make decisions.

    • The Baseball Idiot - Aug 15, 2011 at 2:12 PM

      The Astros are an expansion team also. It’s in the history of the game.

    • kopy - Aug 15, 2011 at 2:18 PM

      Pennsylvania is the exception, not the rule. California having 3 and 2 makes the point more than it does contrast it, especially when you look at a map.

      I’m not saying having teams in the same state being in the same league is a bad thing. I just don’t understand why all of a sudden people in the business are touting Houston and Dallas in the same division as a good thing when MLB has been avoiding this throughout its entire history, i.e. Maryland, Florida, Missouri, Ohio.

      • jimbo1949 - Aug 15, 2011 at 2:31 PM

        Two teams in Maryland? I’m sure the people in DC would be happy to hear they now have the full rights of citizenship.

      • kopy - Aug 15, 2011 at 3:47 PM

        You know what I meant. Truthfully though, I really don’t care much for the whole “Taxation without Representation” thing they have going on in the District. The whole idea is that the nation’s capital can’t be relying on a particular state for security, expenses, etc. This was actually a result of PHILADELPHIA not protecting the capitol when the state of PA refused to have its soldiers disperse a protest. There are many good reasons why the capital of the United States has to be a federal district, and cannot be a part of a state. As a result, its citizens do not have the suffrage rights that are earned by being a citizen of a state, but the bright side is none of them are forced to live there.

      • natstowngreg - Aug 15, 2011 at 6:08 PM

        When Washington returned to MLB, it had to have an NL team, even though its history was in the AL. Sheer geography dictated it. Recall that in 1984, Washington came very close to getting the Padres, which would have put an NL team here to complement the Orioles. As it happened, an NL team became available in 2005.

        Agree w/kopy re: California. The Los Angeles metro area has one AL, one NL. So does the Bay Area. Also agree that having both Texas teams in the same league for its own sake makes no sense.

        My suggestion is that, if MLB feels the need to go to two 15-team leagues, is to give the AL one of the Mountain Time Zone teams. Seems like as good a way to decide as any other.

    • kellyb9 - Aug 15, 2011 at 2:28 PM

      To be honest, as unpopular of an idea as it is – contraction seems like a much more viable option. There are a lot of teams that are drawing… and then there’s a boatload of teams that aren’t. A second reason for contraction is that the talent pool is far too diluted. K, time to get voted down. 😦

  2. Spiro Agnew - Aug 15, 2011 at 1:59 PM

    pardon my laziness because I’m sure if I thought a little I could figure this out on my own, but does anyone know whether this would cause more interleague play and if so how much? or would it just change the timing so that it would be constant and less concentrated?

    • Bryz - Aug 15, 2011 at 2:08 PM

      With 15 teams in both leagues, you’d have 2 options:

      1. One team from each league has an off day every single day of the week.
      2. One team from each league has to play each other every single day (i.e. interleague).

      #2 is probably more feasible, but that’s likely because I can’t see teams agreeing to have an off-day on a Saturday instead of getting gate receipts for a weekend game. So, to answer your question, it would look like interleague would be more drawn out, but it would only be 2 teams a series instead of 28 plus the two extra NL teams.

      • halladaysbiceps - Aug 15, 2011 at 2:14 PM

        I do not believe interleague play is the answer. Both leagues like to play internally as it is, separate from one another. To balance out the leagues, either moving one team from the NL to the AL is required. But, my preference is contraction. When they did expansion 15 or so years ago, why did they put all of the expansion teams in the NL (with exception of the Devil Rays)?

    • spudchukar - Aug 15, 2011 at 2:36 PM

      It doesn’t have much impact on inter-league play, but it does insure that it stays in a similar format. It would be played all season long, which personally is every bit attractive, except for teams that would incur the match-ups near the end of the season.

      As I have commented numerous times before, moving Houston seems to follow Occam’s advice. It would be the simplest. One move, from a team, that has been moved intra-divisionally before, at a time when rebuilding, to a state with a natural rival. This would also accommodate travel.

      Someone needs to explain to me the opposite league/state thing. As mentioned above, seems to work just fine in California, and it isn’t as if Houston and Dallas are competing for followers.

      The equitability of leagues, and over-all fairness outweighs any obstacles IMHO.

  3. kellyb9 - Aug 15, 2011 at 2:17 PM

    It makes sense for the Phillies AAA affiliate to have a DH. Don’t want our pitching prospects getting injured running the bases.

    • halladaysbiceps - Aug 15, 2011 at 2:20 PM

      LOL, Kelly. However, I do not believe Ed Wade will be employed by the Astros after this season.

  4. thekingdave - Aug 15, 2011 at 6:19 PM

    Astros should stay in the NL, we have 50 years of history here. Before that, the Houston Buffs were a Cards minor league affiliate. Move the Brewers or Dbacks, who blatantly hijacked our color scheme a couple years ago.

  5. uuddlrlrbastart - Aug 15, 2011 at 7:11 PM

    “Stuff like rivalry implications (do we really care?) and constant interleague play (again, do we really care?).”

    I care. I realize that I am likely in the minority on this. And it’s not like it’s affected my overall fandom. But I like classic rivalries (if the Astros even have any) and I don’t like interleague play (or the unbalanced schedule).

    I still prefer a scenario where MLB expands to 32 teams and realigns to either four 4-team divisions or two 8-team divisions. But I’m not holding my breath.

  6. leftywildcat - Aug 15, 2011 at 8:25 PM

    Phillies and Pirates are in the same league as they are both “original 16” teams, that never relocated.

    Leave Houston where it is. It has been in the NL much longer than 6 other teams.

    Move Milwaukee back from NL Central to AL Central, and KC from AL Central to AL West. That was easy.

  7. ta192 - Aug 15, 2011 at 8:52 PM

    I’m an NL fan, and a fan of run scoring. Astros have one of the better hitter’s park in the league. I’d rather send them a park that was a real dog, like Petco, I say give the AL the Padres…

  8. lanflfan - Aug 16, 2011 at 5:13 PM

    Contraction is never going to happen people, so it’s not realistic to even consider it.

    To eliminate a team, and the thousands of players and personnel that are employed by said team, would give MLB such a black eye MLB that it may never recover. Fans of the contracted team would likely cease following MLB in anger. Also, the players union might just be a tad upset about the sudden elimination of 25 MLB jobs. Add to that, lost stadium and vendor revenues (and contracts) and you may well see a tidal wave of anger directed totally at MLB owners, with the corresponding increase in prices elsewhere across MLB when other vendors become nervous.

    And forget ever expanding again, as you know dam well that would reopen the old wound and leave a MLB open to criticism and embarrassment.

    I’m pretty sure the fat cat owners have already looked at eliminating the AAA+ teams and come to the same conclusion: it’s far better to support a few bad teams than deal with the fallout of killing a team (like Ford did after they got sued over exploding Pinto’s).

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