** Five years later, and I still think that MLB made a mistake in moving the Astros. Geographically speaking, it just doesn’t make sense when there were so many other teams that would have been a better fit. **
Originally published November 16th, 2011
Major League Baseball’s radical realignment has been a hot topic since it was floated midseason. The idea of a team switching leagues, everyday interleague play, and an expanded playoff are sure to invoke a passionate response. After all, we’re talking about baseball, a sport and league tied to tradition and history. I think the majority of baseball fans will agree in hindsight that the Wild Card was a great move for Major League Baseball, but the jury is still out on whether realignment will see the same excitement and results. I felt strong enough about realignment that I wrote Commissioner Selig a letter in September. I purposely waited until the end of the season, I didn’t want to get lost in a sea of regular season questions and topics. I also waited a few weeks past September 11th; I knew that MLB had experienced a PR nightmare and I figured that Mr. Selig and his staff were probably busy enough playing damage control.
I had a response in under a week.
I’ve attached part of the letter I wrote to Commissioner Selig in September, along w/a scan of his response below. Before you read it I want to set the table a bit. 1) I’m not a big letter writer. I can think of maybe a half dozen letters I’ve written to companies over the years, three of them were to Bud Selig. I’ve always been impressed by the personalized response that I got from him (or his office). Did Bud Selig really read my letter, or does an assistant have a canned response handy? Not sure, but it’s still refreshing to get a personal and respectful response. What were my two other letters, you ask? One was about target marketing to girls (since I have two young daughters at home that love baseball), and the other was a follow-up to the experience I’d had at the World Baseball Classic in 2009. Oh, back to setting the table. 2) Regardless of Mr. Selig’s response, I think baseball is off-base on moving the Astros. As you’ll read below, there were 2 specific teams that were better choices and I tell you why. If MLB discussed the teams “in great detail”, why did they chose the Astros over 2 more logical moves?
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“…In regards to realignment, I want to start by clearly stating I support MLB’s rumored realignment as a concept. I think the opportunity to expand the number of playoff teams is something that can help ratings, attendance, and post-season enthusiasm for baseball in October. What I disagree with is the idea of moving the Houston Astros to the American League. It makes more sense to move San Diego or Phoenix into the AL. Why? States with more than one team have one NL and one AL team. New York, California, Texas, Illinois, Florida, Pennsylvania – They all have an option of rooting for an NL or an AL team. If you move Houston out of the NL, then Texas becomes an all American League state. I understand the geographies of the two teams are farther apart than most of those teams, but there are still fans that favor one league over the other. You lose that if Houston moves to the NL. California, like Texas, has natural Interleague rivalries with the Dodgers/Angels and Giants/A’s. San Diego is the odd team out; it would be easy to justify moving the Padres to the American League. The Arizona Diamondbacks are in a similar situation. They’re a floating team that would be easy to shift to either league. The only caveat to moving the Diamondbacks is their World Series win from 2001. I would ask that you consider moving San Diego or Arizona over Houston if you go forward with realignment.
The second topic I wanted to discuss is what will likely be a controversial topic: Flex/Performance pricing…”
Mr. Selig’s Response: