Astros to the American League? That's the Latest Rumor

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Wait, what, the Astros to the AL?
If you were at one of the Astros games this weekend against the Braves -- and judging by the attendance figures, many of you weren't -- then you were probably annoyed by the idiot Braves fans doing that stupid tomahawk chop thing they do. But things could be worse.

ESPN started floating a story this weekend that MLB is considering a realignment of the leagues that would see the Astros shifting to the American League West. One reason the Astros are being pushed to make the change is because it would help to establish a rivalry with the Texas Rangers. A reason the Astros would supposedly support this move is that it would mean the Yankees and Red Sox would have to play at Minute Maid Park every season. And if you think Braves fans are impossible, then just wait until you have to deal with Yankees and Red Sox fans every season.

There's another story being floated that Jim Crane is opposed to the move, but Crane doesn't actually own the Astros yet, and it's thought that MLB might make the Astros shifting leagues a condition for approving the ownership change.

There are already people who support this move, but these aren't very bright people. These people go with the tired, unsupported claim that this will mean a rivalry with the Rangers, but these teams have been playing each season since 2001, and I've yet to see anybody, aside from Drayton McLane, who gives a damn about the series between the Rangers and Astros. Then they go with the Yankees/Red Sox mean better attendance. But there's a really simple solution to the Astros attendance problem besides forcing Astros fans to deal with the douches who are Yankee and Red Sox fans: field a winning team.

If MLB really wants to realign, then there are two other much better options than the Astros. Option number one would have the Arizona D-Backs moving to the American League. It's not like the D-Backs have a 50-year history in the NL like the Astros, and they're a good geographic fit for the AL West, a division with only four teams. And if the D-Backs don't want to move, then shove the Milwaukee Brewers back in the American League where they came from.

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So what if the Astros actually have a history in the NL?
If the D-Backs move, that means the Astros will probably have to move to the NL West, where they spent the majority of their history. Yeah, that means playing lots of games on the West Coast, but from 1962 through the mid-`90s, the Astros played a lot of games on the West Coast and it didn't seem to hurt anybody then. And the Astros actually have a history with the Dodgers, Giants and Padres, something they don't have with the teams in the AL West.

But if MLB is really tired of the 16 NL/14 AL team split, there are two other ways to fix it, besides moving the Astros to a league that plays an inferior brand of baseball. One solution is to expand by two more teams, putting teams in Las Vegas and Portland, two cities that have long been trying to get MLB teams. Of course, this won't happen since MLB would lose the ability to blackmail cities and force them to build new stadiums -- and the Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland A's are in serious need of the ability to play the blackmail game. The second option is to contract two teams; again, the best solutions being Tampa Bay and Oakland seeing as nobody goes to their games and nobody but the players really seems to care if they continue to exist or not.

Just leave the Astros alone. It's bad enough when the Braves fans take over MMP. Or when the Cubs or Cardinals fans take over. But to approve a move to jump-start a supposed rivalry that, despite being in place since 2001, has never ignited any passion, or jumping leagues just to get the easy payday from visiting Yankee and Red Sox fans is an idiotic reason that goes to all that is wrong with the Astros right now. It's a short-term solution. A quick fix. And the Astros have been doing nothing but quick fixes for about a decade now.

MLB may want the Astros to switch leagues. Some fans and media might support the move. But that doesn't mean the move's the right one. The Astros have more of a tradition in the NL than the Padres, Rockies, Expos/Nationals, Diamondbacks, Marlins and Brewers. So if a team needs to move, make one of those teams move. The D-Backs are the best fit, and the Brewers originally came from the AL. If this needs to happen, send one of them instead.

Then again, this is just Bud Selig's world and baseball fans should just be happy he hasn't screwed it up any worse.

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John Royal is a native Houstonian who graduated from the University of Houston and South Texas College of Law. In his day job he is a complex litigation attorney. In his night job he writes about Houston sports for the Houston Press.
Contact: John Royal