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HOUSTON -- Major League Baseball told Houston businessman Jim Crane it would not approve his purchase of the Houston Astros unless he agreed to move the team to the American League, The Associated Press has learned.

Crane was forced to agree to move the sale along, a person familiar with the negotiations said Wednesday on condition of anonymity because no official announcement has been made by MLB or the Astros. Approval of the sale could be announced as early as Thursday at a meeting of baseball executives in Milwaukee.

Crane will receive a $70 million discount off the $680 million purchase price in exchange for moving the Astros to the AL in 2013, with Drayton McLane and MLB contributing $35 million each to the discount, an MLB official with knowledge of the talks said, according to the Houston Chronicle.

The MLB Players Association believes two 15-team leagues would create a more proportionate schedule and has urged baseball to make the switch. With schedules for next season already completed, the earliest such a move could take place is 2013.

Time is running out for approval of the deal: Crane has said that his offer, which was announced on May 16, will expire Nov. 30.

An MLB spokesman did not immediately return messages seeking comment, though commissioner Bud Selig addressed an Astros' move during a Twitter chat on Monday.

"For 15/15 realignment, Houston would be the team moving to AL West. Would create more fairness in baseball," Selig said via the Colorado Rockies Twitter feed. He also added that "15 teams in each league would necessitate interleague play every day but it will be better schedule overall."

The Astros currently play in the six-team NL Central. The AL West is the only league in the majors with four teams -- the Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Angels, Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners.

The Astros, members of the National League since they joined the majors as an expansion team in 1962, would be in a division with in-state rival Texas. But fans are unhappy that the other three teams are all on the West Coast, meaning many road games would routinely end past midnight Central time.

"I grew up an Astro fan and I look at the Astros as a National League team, but I understand the desire to balance out the two leagues,'' Rangers president and CEO Nolan Ryan told ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick on Wednesday. "From our perspective, I like having them in our division, because it gives us another team in our time zone. We're disadvantaged that way, because so many of our games start at 9 o'clock and it hurts our TV ratings.

"And if both teams are competitive in a given year, I think it will create a good rivalry within the state. I think there are a lot of pluses from our perspective.''

McLane bought the Astros in November 1992 for about $117 million and put the franchise up for sale in November. He turned down an offer from Crane to buy the team in 2008.

The $680 million sale price is the second-highest in major league history, trailing the $845 million purchase of the Chicago Cubs by the Ricketts family two years ago. The $660 million sale of the Boston Red Sox in 2002 currently is second. Like the Astros' deal, the Cubs and Red Sox transactions included related entities.

A major selling point in Houston was the Astros' share in a new deal with the NBA's Houston Rockets to create a regional sports network that will begin airing Rockets games in 2012 and the Astros in 2013. Crane has said the team's 30-year lease at Minute Maid Park, which is owned by the Harris County Houston Sports Authority, will remain intact under his ownership.
http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/7242906/report-approval-houston-astros-sale-conditional-move-american-league
 

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I want Waffles.
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All i know is whoever buys the Astros has got alot of work ahead of them because from top to bottom that team is CRAP
 

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I'm perfectly calm Dude
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How is this bad? There is unbalance in baseball, it is ridiculous to have a 6 team division and a 4 team division. It completely throws off the competitve balance in those leagues.. as a Brewer fan i have hated the fact that for the last 13 years we have had to beat out 5 other teams to win our division meanwhile the angels for example only have to beat out 3. Also even though houston has always been a national league team the fit so much better into the AL west than they do in the NL Central, and eventual major rivalry with the rangers alone will be bigger than anything they have going on with the Pittsburghs and St Louis of the world.. this is the best thing MLB could do. As for interleague play... who gives a shit about it anymore? In my opinion it lost its luster about 8 years ago. Its really not that big of a deal to have one interleague series going on a night. Now all MLB needs to do is make interleague more balanced and the AL/NL more balanced by making the NL utilize a full time DH
 

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That'll do Pigley...
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Personally I'd love to see the DH done away with period.
 

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I'm perfectly calm Dude
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I will say this though, the fact that a third of their games are now going to be on west coast time would annoy the hell out of me if i was an astros fan
 

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I'm perfectly calm Dude
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13,413 Posts
Personally I'd love to see the DH done away with period.
I agree... i have loved just about everything about going to the national league.. except for having to watch my pitchers strike out 3 times a game
 

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Administrator
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How is this bad? There is unbalance in baseball, it is ridiculous to have a 6 team division and a 4 team division. It completely throws off the competitve balance in those leagues.. as a Brewer fan i have hated the fact that for the last 13 years we have had to beat out 5 other teams to win our division meanwhile the angels for example only have to beat out 3. Also even though houston has always been a national league team the fit so much better into the AL west than they do in the NL Central, and eventual major rivalry with the rangers alone will be bigger than anything they have going on with the Pittsburghs and St Louis of the world.. this is the best thing MLB could do. As for interleague play... who gives a shit about it anymore? In my opinion it lost its luster about 8 years ago. Its really not that big of a deal to have one interleague series going on a night. Now all MLB needs to do is make interleague more balanced and the AL/NL more balanced by making the NL utilize a full time DH
My problem is that with two 15 team leagues the geographic rivalries are going to end up going away as they're going to have to do away with the unbalanced schedule. And I'm a fan of watching the AL East teams beat the everloving shit out of each other all year long. It's baseball as good as it gets. Now we'll lose all those extra games against the Yankees and Rays and end up with more games against the Royals. Hoorah.
 
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