SBD/September 8, 2011/Franchises

Crane Being Asked To Move Astros To AL If He Gains Ownership Of Team

Could hesitancy toward moving Astros to AL keep Crane from ownership?
MLB Commissioner Bud Selig has asked that Houston businessman Jim Crane "agree to move the Houston Astros to the Americal League if he is approved as owner of the team," according to league sources cited by Mark Berman of KRIV-Fox. The sources said that the fact that Crane "has yet to agree to the request has kept him from being approved as owner." But the sources added that it is "believed Crane can still get MLB's approval to buy the Astros franchise without consenting to move to the American League." Sources noted the issue of shifting the franchise to the AL "would be addressed again at a later date" (MYFOXHOUSTON.com, 9/7). MLB Network's Matt Vasgersian said, "The assumption is the Astros would join the American League West if the divisions stay as they are now. ... You’re keeping the Astros and the Rangers; you’re keeping a Texas rivalry intact” ("MLB Tonight Live," MLB Network, 9/7). But in Houston, Richard Justice wrote Crane "may never own the Astros, but it won't be because he refuses to move" the team to the AL. Justice: "Could it end up being a factor amid reports he's being asked to consider it? Sure, it could. But it won't be a deal breaker. Baseball's issues with Crane run much deeper and are much more complicated. Even after four months of background checks, baseball is still troubled about Crane's past. ... It's not one thing that bothers baseball about Jim Crane. It's a thousand paper cuts" (CHRON.com, 9/7).

WALKING THE BALANCE BEAM: The Astros moving to the AL would create two 15-team leagues, and MLB Network's John Smoltz said, "I’d love to see a balanced schedule and, of course, shorten the season a little bit so that you can expand the playoffs and do the things that will help play the game to the next level." MLB Network's Bill Ripken said, "The way that you could propose this, if you got rid of the unbalanced schedule, is the league is going to share in that." Ripken: "The Yankees go into Boston nine times -- what’s to say it’s not better for the league if the Yankees went to St. Louis three times every other year, San Diego three times every other year. This would be good for the game, I think, attendance-wise because those stadiums are going to fill up. They would get to reap the benefits, maybe, from a more balanced schedule.” Vasgersian said, "Maybe the suggestion is, blow the whole thing up, start over. If Major League Baseball wants to add another playoff round, which it seems intent on doing, the best way to do that is to decrease the regular season by a handful of games” ("MLB Tonight Live," MLB Network, 9/7).
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