Results tagged ‘ American League ’

Crane tours Mets spring facility

Astros owner Jim Crane made another pass through Florida on Saturday, arriving at Osceola County Stadium and taking in batting practice with some of his partners.

Earlier in the day, Crane toured the Mets’ Spring Training facility in Port St. Lucie, which is down the road from his Floridian Golf Club. Crane has previously visited the Spring Training sites of the Yankees in Tampa and the Cardinals and Marlins in Jupiter, Fla.

The Astros are under contract with Osceola County Stadium through 2015.

“As we said last time, we’re kind of looking at all the different spots and we had time to go there this morning and take a tour of the field and look at their facilities,” he said. “Certainly, they’re interested in another team there, but we’ve still got a deal here for quite some time so we’re just kind of learning. We’ll probably go out to Phoenix this week and check out a couple of spots and look at a few more spots in Florida.”

Crane hasn’t said the Astros will move their Spring Training facility when their lease in Kissimmee expires, but the state of Florida is actively trying to keep its 15 teams in the Grapefruit League and prevent any further defections to the Cactus League in Arizona.

“The state of Florida wants to keep everybody here,” he said. “We’ve got to do what’s best for us, and certainly this is a nice facility.”

As far as the upcoming season goes, Crane said Friday’s Opening Day game against the Rockies is approaching a sellout.

“We’re trying to sell out the opening game,” he said. “We’re getting close. We might make it. We’re working hard at it.”

Meanwhile, Crane and the Astros have about a month to submit new uniform designs to Major League Baseball. The Astros have had focus groups with fans to gauge new uniform designs, and it certainly appears the club will have a new look when it begins play in the American League in 2013.

“We’ve got another pass next week and we’ll be making some decisions pretty quick,” he said. “We’ve gotten a lot of good input from the fans in the focus group, but also including some of the players and the guy that washes the uniforms. That’s very important. You’ve got to make sure the uniforms won’t break down on you.

“We’re leaning very heavily towards it and I’d be surprised if we didn’t [change].”

Move to AL wouldn’t be so bad

As I ponder the many ramifications of the Astros possibly moving to the American League in the near future, one of the first things that popped into my mind was how weird an interleague series in St. Louis would be. Never mind the designated hitter, the bevy of West Coast games and being able to see them play in Arlington three times a year.

As the Astros await approval of a transfer of ownership to a group led by Houston businessman Jim Crane, an industry source has confirmed for MLB.com commissioner Bud Selig has asked Crane to agree to move the Astros to the American League if he’s approved as owner.

Crane signed a sales purchase agreement in May to buy the team from Drayton McLane for $680 million, but Major League Baseball has yet to approve the deal.  The possible league switch has kept the deal from being approved, the source said, but it could still get approval without Crane’s consent to switch leagues.

McLane declined to comment Thursday, and Crane didn’t respond to an email seeking comment.

Why the Astros? Simple geography. Baseball would like two 15-team leagues, which means six five-team division. The problem is the AL West has four teams and the NL Central has six. Because the Astros are farther west than any other team in the NL Central, they would be the most logical team to change leagues.

It’s hard to fathom the Astros leaving 50-plus years of NL tradition behind to join the AL, but it is exciting in a way. The Yankees and Red Sox — baseball royalty — would come to Houston once a year, and we’d be no longer subject to watch pitchers try to hit. Sure, I’m with most of you. I like the NL game and the strategies involved with pitchers hitting, but I could be sold on baseball AL-style.

Plus, we’d have year-round Interleague Play. With 15 teams in each league, at least one team from the AL and one team from the NL would have to be playing each other all the time.

AL baseball is higher scoring, but that comes with longer games. Just ask the Yankees and Red Sox, who seem to play four-hour games on a regular basis. I would miss the rivalries with the Cardinals and Cubs and making trips to PNC Park and Wrigley Field. Of course, this is coming from a guy who hasn’t been to Fenway Park in 20 years, either.

Of course, the Astros could wind up staying in the NL, which would be fine with me. I grew up on the speed and defense and great pitching of the Astros teams that played in the Astrodome in the 1980s and 1990s. But you’re always intrigued by what’s on the other side of the fence, and the Astros might find out soon.

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