When I first learned that the Astros were moving to the AL West, I thought that it might be a great thing. The Astros are finally going to develop an in-state rivalry with the Rangers and be in a five-team division, as opposed to the six-team monster-sized NL central. However, there are some negatives in the historically football-driven city of Houston.
The primary reason why I don’t think the Astros' move to the AL west will be completely beneficial is based on television. Anyone who has ever read my past articles would know that I believe TV is one of the most important factors in sports. The reason why I don’t think the move will help is because the other three teams in the division are all the way out in the Pacific Time Zone.
However, TV time slots are created based on the Eastern Time Zone, which means that most of the Astros' time slots for divisional play will be much later than they are currently.
This time slot especially hurts when the Astros are the worst team in baseball. Who in Houston is going to watch an Astros game against the Seattle Mariners when the game isn’t on until 4:00 p.m. on a Saturday?
I can’t think of anyone who would do that other than hardcore Astros fans, and I don’t think there are too many of them left after the team’s collapse following those two magical years when they made the NLCS and World Series.
That all said, it is not all bad that the Astros are moving to the AL. One obvious benefit is that it gives the Astros the opportunity to play teams like the Red Sox and Yankees. That will be of great help because it will increase fan attendance for Astros games.
Also, by leaving the crowded Central and joining the sparse American West, the Astros are going to be able to develop a true rivalry with the Texas Rangers.
Baseball, unlike football, is a regional game. Teams do not gain the majority of their money from television, especially during the dog days of summer.
The money is made from fans going to the games, so with better matchups and a true rival, the move might actually help the Astros.