“The Astros sale so far has none of the drama that came with the Rangers last year.” That’s from an Associated Press story written in mid-May.
Five months later, we have drama. According to the prospective buyer, Houston-based businessman Jim Crane, Major League Baseball is pressuring him to move the Astros from the National League Central to the American League West. Richard Justice and others have reported that there might be other issues preventing MLB from approving the deal.
I’d rather not speculate about what is or isn’t true, but both sides seem to be doing all they can to intimidate the other into acquiescing. Just this week, a flurry of stories came out suggesting that Crane could walk away from the deal if he isn’t approved by the Nov. 30 deadline stipulated in his agreement with Drayton McLane. Meanwhile, MLB continues to dig into Crane’s past, perhaps sending Crane the message that his options are the American League or no team.
But whatever the reasons for the hold-up, the bottom line is that if the Astros move from the NL Central to the AL West, the team should receive some compensation. In addition to the concerns that Crane has expressed — more 9 p.m. start times and the addition of a designated hitter to the payroll — the real issue is that the American league is the stronger league. And switching leagues will have a direct effect on the Astros’ win total.