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Jim Crane wants $50 million to switch the Astros to the American League

Oct 20, 2011, 11:07 AM EDT

Jim Crane AP

How much is a league-switch worth?  According to this story in the New York Post, Jim Crane thinks it’s worth $50 million:

Potential Houston Astros owner Jim Crane is looking to cut $50 million from the purchase price of the team in exchange for the Astros switching leagues, The Post has learned … Sources told The Post that Crane — who reached a deal in May to buy the Astros from Drayton McLane for $680 million — is asking for a price reduction in the $50 million range to make the move.

Apparently this is a reasonable enough demand to where MLB is negotiating with him on it and “they’re in the ballpark.”

Things that justify some discount, I presume, are the later games the Astros will have to play due to trips to Anaheim, Oakland and Seattle as opposed to the almost-entirely central time zone schedule they have in the NL Central.  Of course the novelty of new competition and the new rivalry with the Rangers may very well add to the coffers in the short term.

Everything it negotiable, it seems.

  1. thekingdave - Oct 20, 2011 at 11:13 AM

    Screw this. Crane is vastly underestimating how many fans he’ll lose when this move goes through.

    • Francisco (FC) - Oct 20, 2011 at 11:15 AM

      Wait, you mean the Astros have FANS?

    • dluxxx - Oct 20, 2011 at 11:20 AM

      Or it could be you’re underestimating the amount of fans they could gain. It isn’t like they have a huge following as it is…

  2. El Bravo - Oct 20, 2011 at 11:17 AM

    I want one million to switch from Crest to Colgate.

    • El Bravo - Oct 20, 2011 at 11:25 AM

      Also, here’s best article re online commenters ever…this is a must read for anyone that comments on here or anywhere else for that matter.

      http://www.theonion.com/articles/new-decoy-website-launched-to-lure-away-all-moroni,26393/

      • Ari Collins - Oct 20, 2011 at 11:40 AM

        That was great, thanks for sharing it.

      • lazlosother - Oct 20, 2011 at 3:12 PM

        I’d have come back to thank you for that sooner, EB, but I couldn’t stop commenting.

  3. rollinghighwayblues - Oct 20, 2011 at 11:19 AM

    I, for one, am not looking forward this so called “rivalry.” The Rangers have to be one of the most fair-weather fanbases I have seen. Just six years ago those same Rangers “fans” that are doing absolutely anything to get WS tickets were gung-ho and acting like the ’05 Astros were the second coming and rooting them on. I know why Minute-Maid is so empty, it’s not because of the teams awful performance, it’s because all the Astros “fans” jumped ship and starting becoming die-hard Ranger lovers.

    • El Bravo - Oct 20, 2011 at 11:27 AM

      So, if this is the case, what will happen in the extremely unlikely hypothetical where there’s a season that both the Astros AND the Rangers are contenders? Are there enough baseball fans in Texas to support such a thing?

      • rollinghighwayblues - Oct 20, 2011 at 11:33 AM

        El Bravo, don’t taunt the gods like that with such outlying hypotheticals. In that case, I would predict that every medical professional would be thoroughly booked due to every baseball fan dealing with severe identity crisis.

    • Ari Collins - Oct 20, 2011 at 11:36 AM

      How many fanbases don’t get a ton more fans when they’re doing well?

      • rollinghighwayblues - Oct 20, 2011 at 11:44 AM

        I don’t feel like sports should be that way. Same way with the Rays in ’08, come October everyone was sporting mohawks and the Tampa Bay cap became the best selling MLB cap in America. Just because a team is peaking and making a great run, I don’t feel like the bandwagon should get full to the brim. Pick a team and stick with it, that’s just my opinion. I am not a fan of bandwagoning 100% and feel like it is complete non-fandom.

      • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Oct 20, 2011 at 12:54 PM

        There’s not enough people with that kind of loyalty and dedication, rollinghighwayblues. That’s just the way the cookie crumbles. Believe me, I was going loony with all of the fairweather Blackhawk fans here a few years ago. I feel your pain.

      • natstowngreg - Oct 20, 2011 at 1:49 PM

        As a fan who has spent a lot of time and money rooting for a bad team the past several years, I sympathize. But some people are just front-runners, and that’s human nature. The best one can hope for is that the front-runners show up when the team starts to win, like Phillies fans and unlike Rays fans.

      • gostros19 - Oct 21, 2011 at 12:30 PM

        As a die hard Astros fan, I just dont think i will enjoy a move to the AL just to create a so called “rivalry”. Like rollinghighwayblues said, everybody jumped off the Astros bandwagon and joined the Rangers one. Theres already a “rivalry” between fans..All this is is an exit escape for Jim Crane. I think hes realized the crap he got himself into and wants out.

  4. kellyb9 - Oct 20, 2011 at 11:30 AM

    I think the switch from the NL to AL is a much more difficult switch to make. I could justify compensating the team for that switch as long as it’s reinvested in the product. Go out and get yourself a power hitter that can’t field.

    • Alex K - Oct 20, 2011 at 12:02 PM

      Like Carlos Lee when he could hit?

  5. kopy - Oct 20, 2011 at 11:41 AM

    Honestly, I think I would like it if my team mostly played road division games an hour behind. 7:00 is the perfect time to go to a game, with all the transportation time needed and such, but 6:00 is the perfect time to get home from work, crack one open, and turn the TV on.

    • cshearing - Oct 20, 2011 at 11:51 AM

      Pssst…it’s the other way around. The games would start at 8PM when they are on the west coast.

      • kopy - Oct 20, 2011 at 11:53 AM

        Wow, yeah you’re right. Well, either way my point stands. As a Twins fan in New York, I can tell you that constant 8:00 start times are a pain.

      • pitperc - Oct 20, 2011 at 3:18 PM

        Pssst . . . it’s actually 2 hours (Central to Pacific). Games would start at 9 P.M. local time in Houston.

    • bigxrob - Oct 20, 2011 at 11:53 AM

      Maybe I’m misreading your comment, but when road games are in a time zone an hour “behind”, the game would start later in the home market, not earlier.

  6. SmackSaw - Oct 20, 2011 at 11:42 AM

    The owners in the AL West should foot the bill. $50 million for a doormat sounds expensive, but beating up on the Astros would boost morale.

  7. uyf1950 - Oct 20, 2011 at 11:45 AM

    I’m curious how MLB can negotiate a reduction in the selling price of a team MLB doesn’t own, first? And second how can you justify that reduction when “realignment” and or which team is to be realigned hasn’t been finalized yet? And certainly won’t happen in 2012 at least. I’m just curious.

    • cshearing - Oct 20, 2011 at 11:56 AM

      1) I am assuming the $50M would be coming from MLB, and going to the current owners. It is in effect a price reduction, but not coming from the current owner. I would assume, anyhow, or you are right: it makes no sense.

      2) This is part of the process in planning for realignment. If MLB finds an owner willing to move (even at a price), it would make the whole process much easier. The discussions mentioned are with MLB, who would be doing the finalizing of the details for realignment.

      Plus, if this works, I’m starting a fund to get the Jays moved out of the AL East.

  8. burntorangehorn - Oct 20, 2011 at 11:53 AM

    I don’t get it. Why switch the Astros instead of putting the Brewers back in the AL, where they belong?

  9. thekingdave - Oct 20, 2011 at 12:19 PM

    How soon you all forget when the Astros had one of the highest win percentages in baseball in the 90s and early 00s. Few markets in the MLB would tolerate a drop-off to 100 losses in just 6 seasons following a World Series appearance, so to say the Astros have no fans is beyond ignorant, especially when you envision how this organizational dismantling went down. As far as the Astro/Ranger bandwagon fan thing, there’s truth to an extent. However most Astro fans despise everything to come out of DFW.

  10. leftywildcat - Oct 20, 2011 at 12:50 PM

    Milwaukee back to the AL Central and KC from the AL Central to the AL West. Duh!

    Save the $50MM — or better yet, spend it on umpire training and on adding a 5th ump in the replay booth for all basepath calls and fair/foul calls.

  11. brucewaynewins - Oct 20, 2011 at 12:51 PM

    Any Astros fans on here? If so where would you prefer to play? AL/NL? Ultimately its you the fans who should be heard in this. If the majority swings one way or the other they should be heard.

    • villainousjake - Oct 20, 2011 at 8:08 PM

      To be honest, as an Astro fan, I’m intrigued by a move to the AL. I’m fine with it.

    • gostros19 - Oct 21, 2011 at 12:39 PM

      I honestly could go either way…i love the rivalries between Houston and St. Louis and Chicago ect..It just wouldnt be the same and would be weird playing any of the in interleague play. I think its unfair what MLB is putting the Stros through, but if it must be done I’ll still be a die hard Astros fan.

  12. jwbiii - Oct 20, 2011 at 1:24 PM

    Here is the Houston Chronicle’s Richard Justice’s most recent column:
    http://blog.chron.com/sportsjustice/2011/10/jim-crane-may-have-found-his-exit-strategy-and-that-sound-you-hear-is-drayton-mclanes-sobbing/
    Two takeaways for me:
    1. Justice believes that the $50M will come out of McLane’s pocket in the purchase price, and
    2. Astros fans don’t want the Astros in the AL.
    The latter is from one commenter, but the (small number of) Astros fans I know are similarly adamant about this.

    • clydeserra - Oct 20, 2011 at 2:45 PM

      people don’t like change. But MLB knows they can do almost anything to the fans and they will not go away.

      Just look at, I don’t know, any decision ever by the commissioner’s office

  13. steveohho - Oct 20, 2011 at 2:14 PM

    How dare Crane balk at joining the AL. Why he would have the Red Sox and Yankees coming to town! And we all know baseball fans just can’t get enough of the Sox and Yanks.

    • clydeserra - Oct 20, 2011 at 2:47 PM

      I would bet any loss of income from TV revenues because of later games (although that didn’t seem to be an “issue” from 1969-1995 when they were in the NL west with the dodgers, padres and giants) would be offset by the trips to boston and newyork.

    • baccards - Oct 20, 2011 at 4:48 PM

      Gotta give you a wry smile at that one -

  14. contraryguy - Oct 20, 2011 at 4:22 PM

    yeah pay me 50 mill so I can be out from under STL, Cincinnati and the Brewers, any of which may keep the Astros from the divn title… nice deal if you can get it.

  15. Gary - Oct 20, 2011 at 5:35 PM

    Despite losing 106 games, the Astros managed to outdraw 11 other franchises, including 2 of the 4 AL West teams. So, yeah, they still have some fans even though there has never been a worse time to be an Astros fan.

  16. danielcp0303 - Oct 20, 2011 at 7:39 PM

    As an Astros fan, it doesn’t really matter where they play. I’d prefer the National League because of it being an easier rode to the playoffs. Until the team does a complete overhaul, it won’t matter anyways. Won’t have enough good players to truly compete for 4 or 5 years, and that’s if they draft well. I wanna know if there would be compensatory picks given to the Astros if they move to the AL.

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