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Hot Stone League

Larry Stone gives his take on a wide array of baseball issues and weighs in about the Mariners, too.

November 17, 2011 at 9:33 AM

Astros sale approved, move to AL West in 2013 now official

All the speculation became reality this morning in Milwaukee, where MLB owners are having their quarterly meeting. They voted unanimously to approve the sale of the Astros from Drayton McLane to Jim Crane.

As expected, tied to the sale will be the switch of the Astros from the National League to the American League, beginning in 2013. They will be joining the Mariners in the AL West Division. The official MLB release said that McLane was the one who consented to the transfer. There are reports that Crane’s sale price was discounted by $70 million because of the switch. The release also said the Astros’ move to the AL West will take place “as soon as the 2013 season.” That would seem to leave open the possibility it could be later, but all reports are that it will happen in 2013.

The result is that all divisions in baseball will now have 15 teams. Commissioner Bud Selig said at a press conference this morning that a second wild-card team in each league will be added, perhaps as soon as the upcoming 2012 season.

And he said that it is likely the two wild-card teams in each league will have a one-game playoff to advance to the next round, which is the format I’ve favored. It’s best for a few reasons. One, a three-game playoff would extend the season too long. Two, it increases the importance of winning the division, which was one of the prime motivations (along with added revenue, of course) of making this move. And third, I think we’ve seen in recent years how tremendously compelling a one-game playoff can be.

Some say it’s unfair to have a season come down to one game. Well, then, win your division. When two teams tie for a playoff spot, their season comes down to one game, and it has been great theater.

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