In 2013, MLB will shift the Houston Astros from the now, 6 team NL Central, to the now, 4 team AL West. The right thing to do is to even the divisions. So come 2013 the AL West will look like this: (in alphabetical order)

Houston Astros
Los Angeles Angels
Oakland A’s
Seattle Mariners
Texas Rangers

MLB, in my opinion, took the easy way out. A total overhaul of the divisions should have taken place, but they simply took a Texas team (in the Central time zone) and moved it west to create a rivalry with another Texas team. The proximity of Houston to Dallas DOES create an in state rivalry, but beyond the great State of Texas, nobody is going to notice. Can it blossom into something more? Yes it can, but it takes something that is not so simple. Both teams have to win, and win consistently.

***I’m not going into what I think MLB should do, because it’s too long and too complicated

Right now the Astros aren’t very good. However, they have a new owner, a stadium that is current, and a fan base that is die-hard, just like your Rangers. Most fans of MLB that are not Houston fans, don’t have the best perspective. When they think of the Astros, they think: Nolan Ryan, Bagwell, Biggio and a team that hasn’t had a lot of post-season success.

When I look at the Astros, I see a franchise that has a good fan base, is a large market team, and got rid of a terrible owner. Remember, the Astros have had several trips to the postseason. They went to the World Series in 2005, and were beaten by the eventual World Champs, in 1980, 1981 and 1986. They also have made post-season trips in 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001 and 2004. Aside from their lone World Series appearance, they have been to the NL Championship Series 4 times. This team has history.

Let’s shift gears a bit.

Let me ask you this. Is there are team in the AL West that you absolutely despise? Most of you will say the Angels. In 1996, were you saying that? I doubt it. The AL West does not have a knock down, drag out rivalry. We have no Red Sox/Yankees or Cubs/Cardinals or Giants/Dodgers. Yes, I know, other than Oakland, these are all expansion teams at one point, and those rivalries I mentioned have 100 years history.

If you are a Houston fan, is there a team in the NL Central that you love to hate? I bet you say St. Louis. I also bet that a St. Louis fan doesn’t say the Astros when they are asked that question, they say the Cubs. Houston, also does not have a knock down drag out rival in the NL.

My point is this. Moving the Astros to the AL West may do one thing for both teams. Instead of playing for Silver Boot, they could be playing for something more. Neither team has it, both teams need it: A consistent dislike for another team. I would love to see the Rangers and Astros playing for the AL West title in the last week of September in 2016. I hope we see it.
I said at the beginning that MLB took the easy way out, but it may work out in the long run.

Patrick Despain
Patrick is a member of the IBWAA and creator of Shutdown Inning. He was raised him Arlington, Texas and grew up watching games on HSE and listening to Eric Nadel and Mark Holtz on the radio. He is a long time Rangers fan and never achieved his dream of being a bat boy. He know lives in Georgia with dreams of a Texas return.

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