Thursday, November 17, 2011

Astros Move to the American League



USAToday.com Article.

I have long argued that it was silly for the American League to have 14 teams, broken up into divisions with 5, 5, and 4, while the National League has 16 teams, broken up as 5, 5, and 6.

Now they are finally fixing it.  The Astros will leave the NL Central and join the AL West, giving each of the 6 MLB division 5 teams apiece, 15 teams in each league.  They will also add two more Wild Card spots for the playoffs.

Only I wish they weren't fixing it with the Astros.

My friends tend to make fun of me for being a fan of more than one team, and this is made worse by the fact that my three favorite teams are all in the same division: the Reds, the Cubs, and the Astros.

But there is a method to my madness, or at least a good reason for it.

I grew up in Louisville, Kentucky.  Our Triple-A affiliate at the time was under the Cardinals.  However, the Reds were easily the closest major league team, geographically, to Louisville, and still are.

I was never really a Reds fan, however.  Instead, I was a fan of the Cubs, because, along with the Braves, they were the only team I could watch every day throughout the year, thanks to cable and WGN.  As a result, while I never really became much of a Braves or Cardinals fan, I did become a die-hard Cubs fan.

This childhood loyalty has never wavered, although I could certainly be called a "fair-weather fan" of the Cubs at this point - tending to largely ignore them unless they are doing well.

In 1988, when I was 13, we moved to Cincinnati.  I very quickly added the Reds to my fan list, simply because they were now the hometown team who I could go watch in person whenever I wanted.  Although I have not lived in Cincinnati non-stop since 1988, I live in the area now and have continued to follow the Reds.  At this point, they are my favorite team, the one team I follow closely year to year.

In 1993, I went off to college, staying in the Ohio Valley area, but my parents moved to Houston.  As it happened, during this period, the Astros were very good, and continued to be a dominating team throughout the 90's and into the 00's.  Within a few years, I became an Astros fan, as I was able to go see them play live every summer when I was home from college.  Like the Cubs, I have become a fair-weather Astros fan too, only "following" them when they are doing well, and generally shaking my head sadly when they have years like the last few years.

By sheer chance of geography, these three "favorite" teams of mine all happen to be in the National League Central Division.  As such, my three favorite teams represent fully 50% of the division in which they all play.

This gives me a pretty good likelihood in any given year of having a favorite team in the playoffs, although that certainly was never by design.

In any case, this is why I am upset to see the Astros move to the American League in order to solve the imbalance between the two leagues.  I would prefer for them to have stayed in the National League, simply because I am a "National League" person.  Whether it was the Triple-A team in Louisville growing up (the Cardinals), the teams (Cubs and Braves) I watched on cable, or the cities I have personally lived in, they have always been National League.  I lived for 12 years in Lexington, and their Single-A affiliate, strangely enough, was the Astros.  I have never had much interest in the American League and am not nearly as familiar with the teams and players in this league.  With the Astros' defection to the AL, I suspect I will follow them less and less in coming years.

So I applaud the MLB for finally fixing this problem that they created when the Brewers changed leagues 15 years ago or so.  I just wish it wasn't the Astros who were switching.


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