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The Astros are making life easier for AL West teams

Jun 25, 2013, 1:33 PM EDT

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The New York Times’ Benjamin Hoffman looks at how the Astros moving to the AL West has made life easier for the A’s and Rangers and harder for the AL East teams who may be trying to nab a wild card spot. After noting how Texas and Oakland have fattened up on Houston, he says:

Unfortunately for the Yankees, and the other four teams in the A.L. East, their division has no weak link. The Toronto Blue Jays are in last place, but they had an 11-game winning streak until the Rays beat them Monday.

I hate the unbalanced schedule in the wild card era. Teams are competing for the same playoff spots against varied competition and that’s just unfair.

That said: it has been thus since they went back to the unbalanced schedule many, many years ago. And while there are no weak links in the AL East now, there were many years when the Rays were doormats and the Orioles and Blue Jays used the big spending of the Yankees and Red Sox as excuses for not competing. So yes, it stinks that the setup is this way, but it something that goes around and comes around.


  1. mybrunoblog - Jun 25, 2013 at 1:37 PM

    Calcaterra is right. The schedule sucks but the AL east feasted for years on a few weak sisters. Now they can’t. Sometimes your the bug, sometimes your the windshield. In any event the AL east race is damn exciting.

  2. hojo20 - Jun 25, 2013 at 1:41 PM

    They just expanded playoffs to 5 teams, so tough luck if they miss the playoffs. I think fondly of pre-1994, when it was a BIG deal if a team made the playoffs.

    • forsch31 - Jun 26, 2013 at 1:35 PM

      Well, yes and no. The Wild Card Game is simply a manufactured play-in game for the playoffs, so all they’ve really done is make it harder for the Wild Card teams.

      Which kinda defeats the purpose of the Wild Card–creating an opportunity for a good team stuck in a strong division to make the playoffs.

  3. Bob - Jun 25, 2013 at 1:42 PM

    The Astros are 7-3 vs. the Angels (including a four-game sweep in Anaheim), and 5-4 vs. the Mariners. They may be making life easier for TWO AL West teams, but that’s not the same as “AL West teams,” which implies all AL West teams. Do some actual homework before you post something like this.

    • moseskkim - Jun 25, 2013 at 1:51 PM

      He’s focusing on the likely playoff bound teams in the AL west and the harder road the playoff bound teams in the AL east have to go through. There is no doubt that Houston is a sorry team and he’s saying its sort of unfair that Texas and Oakland plays them so much but Boston and ny have to stave off quality teams such as o’s, jays, rays. Reading comprehension my friend. The other al west teams don’t really matter because they’re not necessarily playoff bound and deservedly so when u can’t take advantage of subpar teams.

      • proudlycanadian - Jun 25, 2013 at 2:19 PM

        Boston and New York might not make the playoffs this season.

  4. stlouis1baseball - Jun 25, 2013 at 1:43 PM

    I agree with Bruno. The absolutely feasted on weak AL east teams for years.
    Sometimes the chickens come home to roost…or something.

  5. 161andriver - Jun 25, 2013 at 1:43 PM

    But…. Rivalries!!

    How can you sell tiered ticket packages without divisional rivalries?!

    • jwbiii - Jun 25, 2013 at 8:36 PM

      It’s more about travel expenses. Think like an owner.

  6. waiverclaim - Jun 25, 2013 at 1:44 PM

    If every team played every other team in their league, no interleague nonsense, 6 times at home and 6 times away it would give us a 168 game season and a definitive answer of who the best teams in baseball were. We wouldn’t even need more than 4 playoff teams then either, because the season grind would give us definite truth in the matter of who’s actually good and who isn’t.

    Selig would rather have a team go 18-0 vs a weak div rival, or even like the 2012 Giants going 28-6 vs the Cubs, Rockies & Astros, instead. Selig’s MLB is a goddamn illogical mess, and it doesn’t even have to be.

  7. stlouis1baseball - Jun 25, 2013 at 1:47 PM

    I keep waiting for the article on the NL Central. Talk about a tight race!
    I am talking to you….DREW SILVA….C-Squared…Dipwad…Bill…Aaron.

    • paperlions - Jun 25, 2013 at 3:30 PM

      The NL Central is boring though. The 3 best records in baseball and the other two teams having a combined .500 record against non-NL Central teams.

      • stlouis1baseball - Jun 25, 2013 at 3:32 PM

        Stop it. The tightest race in baseball with the top three teams having the best record. Reason alone to write an article….downerlions.

      • paperlions - Jun 25, 2013 at 3:44 PM

        Dude, that was sarcasm.

      • stlouis1baseball - Jun 25, 2013 at 3:49 PM

        Sorry…I missed .500 record comment. That alone gives it away.

      • paperlions - Jun 25, 2013 at 3:51 PM

        No problem. I disguise my sarcasm by making it look like pretty much everything else I post.

  8. dw3dw - Jun 25, 2013 at 1:54 PM

    When the A’s won in 2006 they went 17-2 against the Mariners.

  9. shanabartels - Jun 25, 2013 at 1:54 PM

    It’s flawed logic to assume that just because any particular team has filled a certain role in its division for a while that it will necessarily stay that way. Things can fluctuate wildly just from one year to the next.

    The Twins that won their division in 2010 were utterly awful in 2011. The Diamondbacks that were terrible in 2010 won their division in 2011. The Red Sox that lost their wild card berth on the last day of the 2011 season had a horrendous season in 2012. The Orioles had been easy pickings for division teams for years, but they got their act together in 2012 and changed the power dynamic of the AL East.

    Yes, the schedule is unbalanced. But that doesn’t mean the situation is static within any division. I’m not saying that the Cubs are going to win the World Series next year, but we have to account for the fact that things change all the time.

  10. natslady - Jun 25, 2013 at 1:54 PM

    In theory, Miami is making it easy for the NL East. Just don’t seem to be taking advantage, but there are plenty of games left. :)

  11. scotttheskeptic - Jun 25, 2013 at 1:55 PM

    waiver, Selig’s logic is thus:

  12. sisisisisisisi - Jun 25, 2013 at 1:57 PM

    Astros BAL 1-2 BOS 1-3 DET 1-6 LAA 7-3 NL 7-6

    Marlins ARI 2-4 CIN 1-6 CHC 1-3 ATL 0-3 PHI 4-9 WSH 1-5 TB 0-4

    You can see that BOS and DET also were the benefactors of the Astros, TB with the Marlins.


    • sisisisisisisi - Jun 25, 2013 at 1:59 PM

      There were not any of these talks about the Astros when they were in the NL last year.

  13. jeffbbf - Jun 25, 2013 at 2:15 PM

    Just a NY writer whining. It was interesting that he noted that the Cubs are making it easy on the NL Central by going a league-worst 9-24 against division opponents. But…this means that the Cubs are 22-21 against non-division opponents. Isn’t it possible that the teams in the NL Central are simply better than the teams in the other divisions – and thus deserve the wild card spots? The Reds are in 3rd place in the division and have the 3rd best record in the NL. Do the Cards, Reds, and Pirates not have to play each other?

    Quit whining about what everyone else is doing.

  14. scoutsaysweitersisabust - Jun 25, 2013 at 2:15 PM

    I’ve never understood the unbalanced schedule. Who wants to watch Seattle vs. Houston 19 times a year? Hell, even Boston vs. New York gets damn old after the third 4 game set in three weeks. Here we sit not even at the All-Star break, and the Orioles will not face the Angels, Tigers, or Twins, again (Unless they face in the playoffs). But that’s ok, because we get to play the Yankees 13 more times, the Red Sox 12 more times, the Blue Jays 9 more times, and the Rays 7 more times.

    Every team will play exactly 19 games against each of the other four teams in its division (76 total), 6-7 intraleague games against each of the 10 teams in the other two divisions (66 total), and 20 interleague games. Think about that for a moment. You play almost as many games in division as against the ENTIRE rest of the league. How is anyone supposed to take division races or the playoffs seriously?

  15. rayvid - Jun 25, 2013 at 2:15 PM

    We didn’t want to be in the frickin’ AL. I hate the designated hitter, I despise the late West coast games and I will dance on Seligs grave someday for making us move.

    Arizona or Colorado should have been sent to the AL because they did not have the tenure in the NL the Astros did. Obviously 50 years of NL baseball meant nothing to BUTT Selig. They should have made his old team the Brewers move back. Thier move is what caused this crap!

    So take a flying suck at my butt Calcaterra!! We didn’t want this!! The move to the AL will add at least an extra year to the Astros rebuilding.

    • stlouis1baseball - Jun 25, 2013 at 3:36 PM

      “So take a flying suck at my butt Calcaterra!”
      I am going to use this one. Classic stuff. I will sometimes give you credit.

    • jeffa43 - Jun 25, 2013 at 8:29 PM

      I was thinking of other activities to perform on his grave…

      After watching the Stros in the NL since I was 5, that equals 34 years of saying I can’t stand American League Baseball… Did I say AL, I meant long games, no strategy, bad rules that did not exist for the first 100 years of baseball.

      Now I watch the AL more than the NL, it feels like someone is sucking away my baseball knowledge one American League game at a time.

      There SHOULD be a constitutional amendment outlawing the DH.

      In short, you suck Selig, from Astro fans.

      • jwbiii - Jun 25, 2013 at 9:10 PM

        “other activities”

        Heh. The late, lamented John Brattain and I had a rather complicated plan to salute Bud Selig’s grave involving worms taken from Landis’ grave, fishing (he was Canadian, so fishing sort of has to be involved somehow), fish, cats, cat feces, large quantities of beer, and urine.

      • stlouis1baseball - Jun 26, 2013 at 9:24 AM

        I feel for you Jeff. I mean that sincerely. Arizona or Colorado should have been forced to make the move. Seniority should have absolutely played a huge decision. It’s horseshit…

    • ptfu - Jun 25, 2013 at 9:56 PM

      I am sorry you despise the late West Coast games. You must have hated 1969 through 1993, when the Astros were in the NL West and played umpteen games in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego.

  16. mikedi33 - Jun 25, 2013 at 2:21 PM

    This is exactly the reason St.louis got in as a wild card the last 2 years.

  17. kelshannon19 - Jun 25, 2013 at 2:24 PM

    Why is the world making a huge deal about the Astros sucking? The Pirates sucked for 20 years and there was no talk of “ruining the integrity of the game”. The Cubs have sucked for 100 years and still, no talk of Cubs “ruining the integrity of the game.” The Marlins are worse than the Astros and STILL they aren’t “ruining the integrity of the game.” What did the Astros do to piss off national sports writers? It’s not right.

    • stlouis1baseball - Jun 25, 2013 at 3:57 PM

      Great post Shannon! On point.

    • throughthewickets - Jun 25, 2013 at 7:20 PM

      Easy one. Residual hate of Phil Garner.

    • texansfan77 - Jun 28, 2013 at 5:08 PM

      Plain and simple…EastCoast hate on the South…esp TX

  18. jeffa43 - Jun 25, 2013 at 2:51 PM

    A better article would be the Halos are making it easier for AL West Teams….

    I have said it on here before, the Astros are a lot closer to the playoffs than the team from LA, errr Anaheim… btw is not close to LA.

    Astros are ranked in the top 5 minor league systems, and the Halos are dead last. Astros keep stockpiling arms, Halos keep trading them away, or refuse to sign them…. i.e. Matt Harvey, Corbin, oh… and that SS Segura… nice moves.

    The Astros will continue to get better yearly, and have a great blueprint unfolding. Halos need to blow it up, and start over…. 17 million Roster payroll VS 140 million Halos?

  19. chill1184 - Jun 25, 2013 at 3:03 PM

    As others pointed out this really comes off as just whinnying. The Yankees and Red Sox for years had the Orioles, Blue Jays and Rays to beat up on. However now those former doormats are now younger with talent and now can go toe to toe with them. Seriously when was the last time each team in the AL East was within a few games of each other?

    Also nobody complained about the NL Central with the Pirates being bad for two decades. Where was this “concern” then? Karama is a bitch isnt it?

  20. jeffa43 - Jun 25, 2013 at 9:09 PM

    Stros are 4 games behind the Dodgers and their 240 mil payrol… 4.5 behind the Halos coming up on the break.

    Write about that embarrassment.

    Closing in on the Halos, and the Mets…2 games behind both Chi teams, 2 behind Mil, and ahead of Miami.

    You can apply your point better to other teams in regards to integrity Mr. Sportswriter.

  21. jeffa43 - Jun 25, 2013 at 9:11 PM

    You could write … Stros doing more with a lot less!
    There is a good article!

  22. texansfan77 - Jun 28, 2013 at 5:12 PM

    Calcaterra can suck it as far as I’m concerned. We’re only 19 games below 500. Granted, I know we haven’t hit the AS break. But considering the expectations for this team (>50 I mistaken?), I’d say we’re doing pretty decent. Poor defense is pissing me off and the bats could certainly come alive a lil more often. But, we have shown we can put up 10+ runs in a game (ask SEA and BALT). Im a proud ‘stros fan and the way I see it, we’re following the same plan the Rays had just 5+ years ago.

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