Over the weekend, news was broken by ESPN.com's Buster Olney that Major League Baseball was considering a realignment of it's teams that would force the Houston Astros to the American League. Olney even wrote that it might be a condition of the approval of the Astros sale.
One of the biggest issues that would have to be resolved in any realignment resulting in two 15-team leagues is which of the National League teams would switch 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.
The Marlins could be another candidate, a source suggested.
Houston Chronicle beat writer Zachary Levine followed up with a lengthy piece that dismissed most of the ideas, but still seemed to leave the question of moving to the American League open. CultureMap Houston has an exclusive source that says that Crane will not accept the move if it is presented to him:
"Jim is a businessman first, but he's also a traditionalist in many ways," the ownership group source tells CultureMap. "He's a pitcher (in college) and he loves the National League game. He grew up in St. Louis. This is not something he's looking for. This group certainly didn't buy the team with the intention of it becoming an American League franchise."
That seems a little silly. Not the preference to stay in the National League, I'll accept that, but the idea that Crane would give up on the sale because the Astros are moving to the AL seems preposterous. For one thing, Crane has already tried to buy the Rangers. This sounds more like saber-rattling in an attempt to get more favorable terms than anything.
SB Nation's Rob Neyer is in favor of the Astros move to the AL, but he seems to do it from more of a universal perspective than an actual interest in what happens in Houston:
Baseball won't be any less entertaining if the Astros switch to the American League. Baseball won't be any less entertaining if there's an interleague game every day of the season. Baseball won't be any less entertaining if the divisions are eliminated, with the top five teams in each league qualifying for the postseason tournament.
In fact, it's that latter possibility that particularly intrigues me. I think it'll be a lot of fun, seeing the standings presented that way, with the top five teams -- the first division, just like in the old days -- highlighted, and the second division teams fighting their way toward the first division.
Obviously, more on this story as it further develops. It doesn't seem like an incredibly likely scenario at this point, but it can't be easily dismissed with this many baseball writers discussing it.