Late yesterday, Commissioner Bud Selig confirmed that Major League Baseball owners have unanimously approved the sale of the Houston Astros to businessman Jim Crane. That approval came conditioned on an agreement to move the Astros from the NL Central to the AL West, and it’s officially happening after the 2012 season.
Commensurate with the approval of the sale and the attached move, MLB owners approved the addition of a second Wild Card playoff team for each league. The two Wild Card teams will square off in a one-game playoff, before moving on to take on one of the three division winners. The move, which will help keep a few more teams “in the race” until a little later in the season, will also reward division winners, a stated goal of Selig.
Selig is hopeful that the additional Wild Card can be in place for the 2012 season, but cautioned that “logistical issues” could delay implementation until 2013, which is when the Astros will move to the AL, creating two 15-team leagues.
Speaking of which: yes, the move to two 15-team leagues will require yearlong interleague play. Most expect each team to play about 30 interleague games a year, up from about 18 at present. Each team in a division could theoretically play a nearly identical schedule, something the teams would like to see happen.
And, in case you were worried: Selig does not expect the expanded interleague play to lead to the implementation of the DH in the National League. That would take a “cataclysmic event,” he said.