One of the final pieces of business at the league meetings going on in Milwaukee this week will be the vote on the sale of the Astros to Jim Crane.
Crane, who bid on the Rangers with Mark Cuban last year, is expected to get approved with a condition of that approval being that the Astros will move to the American League in 2013. That will mean there are 15 teams in each league and five teams in the AL West, along with the addition of interleague games all season long.
It will also mean the end (or tweaking) of the Silver Boot Series that the Rangers and Astros play every year. With the two teams sharing a division, it will mean more than six games between the two teams each year. Even if there is someone out there sad to see that change (if you are such a person, please let us know in the comments), this is a good move for the Rangers.
For one, winning the series between the teams, something the Rangers have done in eight of the last 11 years, will have a lot more bearing on the pennant race than in years past. Given the current state of the two franchises, that should mean good things for the Rangers.
Adding another divisional foe in Texas should also cut down on the amount of travel the Rangers will have to do in the coming years. While we aren't quite sure just what the new alignment will mean to the schedule, it is a safe bet that some of those California/Seattle trips will turn into short jaunts across the state. That means earlier start times as well, something that should help TV ratings and revenues.
Visits from the Astros will also boost attendance at the Ballpark, adding more cash to the coffers to use to bolster the roster in the years to come. And, let's face it, the division could use some new blood. Having just four teams in the AL West meant a lot of the same games over and over again. Variety is the spice of life, isn't it?
Beyond all of that, having a real intrastate rivalry is something to savor for a Rangers team that doesn't really have any longstanding rivalries to call their own. We can't say if Rangers-Astros will ever get anywhere close to the level of Yankees-Red Sox, Cubs-Cardinals or Giants-Dodgers, but it has a lot better chance of happening than Rangers-Mariners setting the world ablaze.
Whether it is Longhorns-Aggies or Cowboys-Redskins, Texas is a state that does rivalries well. Adding another one should be no problem, especially if the Rangers use it as another way to keep themselves in the upper echelon of the league.