While the NBA and the NFL have been mired in labor disputes this past year, quietly Major League Baseball made sure there would be no work stoppage. The two sides have come to an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement. That’s not the only news that came from the MLB this week. It was also announced that the Houston Astros been sold to businessman Jim Crane, with one of the key stipulations of the sale being that Houston would move from the NL Central to the AL West starting in 2013.
It will be quite an adjustment for the Astros and they will have to travel to the west coast to take on the Athletics, the Angels, and the Mariners, but now each league will have 15 teams and it will allow for two more playoff teams as well.
Jim Crane joined KGOW in Houston with Travis Rogers to talk about the Astros moving to the American League in 2013, how tough the change will be and what Houston needs to do to make the switch as painless as possible, what the next step is for him now that he has taken over as owner, when he thinks the Astros can be competitive again, and why he wanted to own a team.
On the move to the American League:
“Well that’s not the deal that we signed up for either but it became very clear to us in the process that if we were going to own the team or anyone was gonna own the team that it was gonna be an AL team. It does make sense for baseball, they need to even this out and they’re gonna put another wild card team out there. They needed this for the collective bargaining agreement from the labor side so without an option we decided we would be the best guys on the team and we would continue to put another offer up for a different deal. We certainly need the fans support and we want them to come back out and give us some time and we will do a good job for them.”
What can make the transition to the AL easier:
“We hope putting a better product out there. Baseball is baseball. There’s going to be some positive. You’ll see some east coast teams, I talked to Nolan Ryan yesterday and he said it’s gonna be great when we get down to the end of the division at the end of the year and we’re both in contention playing each other, I try to look at the positives. Change is always difficult with something this traditional and we’re gonna make the best of it and put a good product out there for the fans. We need the fans. The fans are the key to this whole business.”
On the plan for the team moving forward now that he has taken over ownership:
“We will take over on Tuesday and we’re gonna go in and sit down with all the key employees and assess what they’re doing and try to get a good feel for that. We’ll also take a good look at the baseball operations and get a report on what’s going on and what their plans are. Then we will make some decisions on what we need to do to be successful moving forward.”
How long it will take for the Astros to be competitive again:
“I think anywhere from two to five years to get us extremely competitive and compete for a championship.”
Why it was so important to own a baseball team:
“I played when I was a kid and I played in college and it’s always been a dream of mine. One of our big businesses selling a few years ago gave me the opportunity to put the group together. I felt I could put a good team together and build a winner here. It’s something I always wanted to do.”
What kind of owner he will be:
“I’d say about in the middle. Having played a little bit I understand the game, I understand the business side, and I will hire good people and hold them accountable but I’ll be visible and make sure everyone is doing their job correctly. We will continue to asses that. Somewhere in the middle. I’m not going to over manage anybody or be an obnoxious owner that’s for sure.”