Sunday, June 12, 2011
A Heartfelt Plea for the NL
Saturday brought news that MLB was discussing possible realignment and that one team thought to be the favorite to switch leagues was the Houston Astros. BOOM. Twitter explosion. My timeline was suddenly filled with passionate arguments for or against this theoretical move to the American League. I found myself strangely passionate about the subject as well, and it took me a little while to process my emotions. I am strongly against the Astros leaving the National League. I can understand those who have an opposite opinion. They are currently frustrated, they see the AL as a more exciting game(more runs scored), they see the major draws in the AL(Yankees & Red Sox), but I just couldn't shake my initial impression that this was a bad idea. You know what I realized? To those of us who grew up here in Houston, the Astros mean a lot more than we thought. We have witnessed decades of National League baseball. As a kid I loved all the Houston teams, but the only one my family could afford to go see regularly were the Astros. I grew up sitting in the outfield seats watching the Stros battle the Braves, Mets, Cubs, Dodgers, Cardinals and other National League foes. I have grown up learning to appreciate the way baseball is played in the NL. Sure we don't have as good a rivalry as Cubs-Cards, but what teams do? Last I checked the Astros have been around a lot longer and enjoyed more success than the Rangers. Why should we change our history to create a rivalry with a team that has only been good for a few years? Sure everybody is frustrated this season, but the Stros are rebuilding. Every team except for the Red Sox and Yankees has to do that. Heck, the Rangers had to do it for 20 years. I could go into the scheduling implications and debate the superiority of one league over another, but I realized that this is a whole lot bigger than that. This is part of my childhood and my life as a Houston sports fan. I can't fully put it into words, but all my memories of the Astros belong in the National League. The series with the Mets. The rivalry with the Dodgers. The multiple playoff wars with the Braves. The only Astro memory that is AL heavy is the no hitter against the Yankees. Even the greatest Astros' season ended with them being the NATIONAL league representative in the World Series. You want a true Texas rivalry that would put the national microscope on baseball here in our great state? Wouldn't an Astros-Rangers World Series be 100x more interesting and awesome than a few regular season series? Should we move the Texans to the NFC East so they can play the Cowboys more? A lot of sportswriters who are tooting the horn for the AL didn't grow up watching the Astros. I understand why they would like to cover a higher scoring game and the two biggest teams in baseball, but they don't understand what the Astros and the National League mean to us fans. So while I won't belittle you if you favor a move to the AL, please understand that I, and I think a lot of fans like myself, would like to keep the Stros in the National League.