As Major League Baseball continues to discuss possible realignment, one idea that has come up is going to a league with 15 teams per league, reports ESPN's Buster Olney.
Currently, the National League has 16 teams and the AL 14 for scheduling purposes. Should baseball go to two 15-team leagues, that would likely require interleague play every day of the season. Given baseball likes to treat interleague play as an event, that could dilute the appeal of interleague play to the point it would no longer be a moneymaker. However, there is still real resistance to the idea which has not been presented to owners yet, although the player's union is reportedly open to it.
"I'd still say the odds of it happening are less than 50-50," the source said.
CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler says that players are open to it because they are not happy about AL West teams having a 25 percent chance of making the playoffs, the NL Central just 18 percent and the rest all at 20 percent.
To switch to a 15-team alignment, one team from the NL would have to move to the AL. According to Olney, two highly-ranked executives think the Astros could receive the call in order to tap into a rivalry with the Texas Rangers. Picking the Astros would also allow baseball to remove one team from the NL Central and slot Houston into the AL West, which would address the issue of playoff percentages.
The Astros, to no surprise, are not interested in switching divisions, a source close to new owner Jim Crane told CultureMap.
"Jim is a businessman first, but he's also a traditionalist in many ways," the source said. "He's a pitcher [in college] and he loves the National League game. He grew up in St. Louis. This is not something he's looking for. This group certainly didn't buy the team with the intention of it becoming an American League franchise."
Yeah, but Crane doesn't wield the power... Selig does. He hasn't been formally approved as new owner yet after purchasing the team from Drayton McLane, so Selig could make a move a condition of purchase. However, the source also countered that.
"You don't spend $680 million on something and have a third-party come in an dictate new terms after the agreement's been ironed out," the source added. "Even Major League Baseball. These are extremely complicated deals. A lot of work goes into them. They are not something you can just go in and change in that significant of a manner."
The only time a team has changed leagues is when Selig's own Brewers -- owned by the family at the time -- switched leagues from the AL to NL. Selig's main excuse was that Milwaukee was a "National League town" because of the Braves (who had previously played in Milwaukee). That's not the case in Houston.