Astros move to AL West

HOUSTON, Texas. (CBSSPORTS.COM) -- The Houston Astros are soon to be owned by Jim Crane and will be moving to the American League West prior to the 2013 season. As we've previously reported, expect everything to be finalized Thursday, ending six months' worth of waiting.

Jim Crane agreed to purchase the ballclub (along with Minute Maid Park) for $680 million all the way back on May 16. Since then, everything's been on hold as Bud Selig and the baseball owners mulled over whether or not to approve Crane. The latest -- via the Associated Press -- is that Crane had to agree to switch the Astros to the American League in order to gain approval. In return, evidently to grease the wheel a bit, Crane reportedly received a discount on the sale from the original dollar figure.

The two 15-team leagues has been requested by the MLB Players Association to better balance the schedule. Of course, having an odd number of teams in each league means there will be interleague play throughout the entire season, more resembling an NBA schedule than what baseball fans have been used to for years. But it definitely evens out the chances at the playoffs and makes the schedules far less intra-division heavy.

The Astros will join intrastate "rival" Texas Rangers in the AL West, along with three west-coast teams -- the Los Angeles Angels, Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics. This means lots of very late road games for Astros fans living in the Central time zone.

Drayton McLane bought the team 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. McLane said he was "sad" to be selling the team, but "I hated getting out of college, but I knew I needed to get to work."

Crane, who founded a Houston-based logistics company in 2008, is also the chairman and chief executive of Crane Capital, a private equity fund company. In 2009, he was in the running to buy the Cubs and last summer teamed with Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban in an unsuccessful bid to buy the Texas Rangers.

On his way out, McLane's advice to Crane? "Learn from the sportswriters."

I guess that's a fitting head-scratcher to what has been a very weird transition in ownership.

All quotes via Danny Knobler's Twitter feed.


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