SBD/July 13, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Selig Says MLB Realignment Is Not Imminent, But Still May Happen

Astros considered a possible candidate to join AL in realignment

MLB Commissioner Bud Selig yesterday said "massive realignment" is not "on the horizon," according to Jayson Stark of ESPN.com. Selig admitted that "there are 'things I'd like to accomplish' that only realignment can provide -- such as evening out the number of teams in all six divisions and making the schedule for competing teams more fair." However, he also "reiterated his longstanding reservations over having interleague play throughout the season, an inevitable consequence of going to 15 teams in each league." Selig: "I like it the way it is." But he conceded that he "might be willing to soften that opposition if he could achieve larger objectives." Selig: "Would I go to 15 and 15? I don't know. It would depend on how everything else broke out and what we were trying to do" (ESPN.com, 7/12). MLBPA Exec Dir Michael Weiner yesterday said the players are strongly in favor of a realignment to two 15-team leagues, which would mean one NL club would switch to the AL. Citing "undeniable positives" to the move, Weiner said such a realignment would create a fairer landscape for teams with regard to playoff qualification. While Selig is in favor of some realignment, he took a more cautious tone, saying the issue is being actively studied, with no move "imminent." No realignment is likely before '13, as a draft of the '12 MLB regular season schedule has already been distributed to various parties such as the union and TV partners. Should two 15-team leagues be created, the Astros or D'Backs would be the foremost candidates to move to the AL (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal).

READY TO MAKE THE MOVE? Outgoing Astros Owner Drayton McLane last night denied an online report about the future of the team, saying that the Astros "are not and have not been involved in any discussions to move" to the AL. The report claims "one of the conditions of the Astros’ pending $680 million sale to Jim Crane is accepting a move to the AL West to create a 15-15 configuration." But McLane characterized that scenario as “totally inaccurate." He said, “None of that has ever, ever been discussed with us.” He added, "If that were part of the deal, that certainly would have emerged. ... We’ve been a National League team for 49 years. I think it would not be good for the franchise to change to the American League West" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 7/13). In the original report, FOXSPORTSARIZONA.com's Jack Magruder cited two sources as saying that the D'Backs "have been told they will not be asked to move to the American League under the current major league realignment plan that is being discussed." Moving the Astros "would be the easiest solution to the lack of balance in the leagues," and also would "create a natural Texas-Houston division rivalry, which already is a big seller in interleague play" (FOXSPORTSARIZONA.com, 7/12). Meanwhile, Selig said of the initial realignment report from last month, "The story that ran was not only premature, I'm not even sure where it came from. I believe in geographical realignment. I believe in a lot of other things, but there are many details to work out" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 7/13).

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