When Buster Olney's article about talks to realign Major League Baseball hit the web, Houston Astros fans finally had something aside from terrible baseball to have an emotional reaction to. According to Olney, important names are throwing the Astros around as a team to make a jump to the American League:
Two highly ranked executives believe the Houston Astros would be a possibility, because a switch to the AL for Houston would foster a rivalry between the Astros and the Texas Rangers.
Also because the Astros haven't really made any sort of impact on baseball history (other than the Astrodome which they happily left), don't have any real rivalries, and what better time to pull the switch than when new ownership is set to take over? Houstonians who are longtime baseball fans seem to be more opposed to this proposed plan than not.
As a longtime Astros fan myself, I see it the other way. The closest thing the Astros have to a real rivalry is St. Louis, but the Cardinals themselves have bigger rivalries than Houston. It's kind of like the whole Texans/Cowboys "rivalry" where Houston fans think it's a bigger rivalry than it actually is... meanwhile, Dallas is much more concerned with their Philadelphia rivalry, or anyone else in their division.
The only sticking point for me is that I don't like the designated hitter. I know it puts poor-hitting pitchers at the plate, but I love the extra dimension of strategy it injects into the National League game. My favorite part of baseball is strategy, and the NEED for well-executed strategy. A part of me would be sad to see the Astros lose that small element of strategy in the game.
It's clear to me that the benefits far outweigh the detriments. We would get to see the Yankees and Red Sox in Houston on a regular basis. The idea of building a natural geographic rivalry with the Rangers is certainly intriguing. Tampa Bay could come to town and we could kidnap their front office.
When the newness of the proposed switch wears off, there's just baseball. The hope in Houston is that by then we won't need new teams visiting Houston and a DH to keep our interest in the hometown nine piqued. By then, we'll have good, competitive baseball.
Won't we, Mr. Crane? Won't we?