As in, step one: buy a sports team. step two: PROFIT!
Baseball is shaking things up. Let me rephrase that. As much as they can allow themselves to become more exciting, baseball is making some changes. As I outlined brilliantly in my 3-part “Gritty MLB Reboot” series (or rant, depending on how you take it), baseball is in dire need of some different spices in the pot (Part One, Part Two, Part Three). Perhaps this purchase and movement of the Astros, and the dominoes their scenario knocks around, is a step in the right direction.
Let us address the sale of the Astros and subsequent move to the AL West. Effective 2013, the Houston Astros will join their Texas brethren in the AL West. This instantly creates a legitimate in-state rivalry, unlike the ones MLB and Fox try to force upon us when interleague play arrives (my distaste for interleague is a different story for a different day). The battle for Texas will provide an interesting tweak on both the division it is entering and the one it is leaving. Competitively, the NL Central loses a punching bag, as the Astros have been downright astro-cious the past few years. Horrible puns aside, the World Champion Cardinals especially benefitted from the Astros, going 10-5 against the 100-loss Houston team. With the additional wild-card games and an added loser (the Astros, undeniably, will be bad for several years at the very least), the AL West becomes legitimate players. Do the Athletics take a big step forward? And does their impending success help persuade the A’s move out of woeful Oakland? The ramifications of this move could prove to be far reaching competitively, financially, and emotionally – if Nolan Ryan would just say something outlandish to stir the pot (I sincerely hope this happens). This nugget does not suffice:
“I’ve always thought of the Astros as a National League team,” said Rangers team president Nolan Ryan (who played for Houston from 1980-1988.) “But when I look at it from our perspective, I like it.”
With a big, big TV deal in place and a mini-dynasty in the making, the Rangers surely like the idea of having a bad team to beat up on. But the Astros, bad as they might be, will benefit from this too. Texans are stereotypically a competitive lot, so, somewhat counter-intuitively, two teams in the same state should build up both teams’ TV share and attendance. Jim Crane paid a pretty penny for a struggling team. But he may have lucked into the perfect storm of circumstance. Additional playoffs and a Champion-caliber, in-state rival should put the Astros in a good position financially going forward. Now if they could only find some players.
Here are some other bits from around the league:
–> Infielder Matt Antonelli will undergo a physical on Monday to finalize his major league deal with the Orioles, tweets Dan Connolly of The Baltimore Sun. Matt’s a good dude. And he’s from Peabody. And he’s read our blog before, so he’s wicked smaht. Good to see Dan Duquette give him a go. Glad he’s healthy again.
—> Joe Nathan signs a 2 year (3rd year team option) with the Texas Rangers. This really makes me mad, actually. I have been saying for several weeks now – louder since Papelbon left for Philadelphia – that the Red Sox should make Daniel Bard a starter and sign Nathan to be their closer. It was a concept borrowed from these same Rangers, and a damned good one, so they did it with their more-than-a-closer Neftali Feliz. The worst part of this going forward is now the Red Sox must either overpay for a guy who’s not that good, have open tryouts a-la “Invincible” or… gulp… make Bobby Jenks their closer.
—> Philadelphia Phillies acquire Ty Wiggington for a bag of trail mix. I’m confused by the Phillies reluctance to sign players or develop players under 30. Between Jim Thome and Ty Wiggington, the Phillies’ bench seems better equipped for lumberjacking than winning baseball games.
—> The Red Sox are circling around Bobby Valentine for their managerial position. More details and lots of swearing to come in the following weeks.
—> The MLB is working on a new CBA and it will allegedly address issues such as HGH testing and draft slotting. More details will begin to emerge and once they announce the official parameters, I will break them down.
Adios, muchachos, enjoy this phenomenal new Black Keys song and the awesome dancing. Don’t know how this guy stole my moves.