Still AL resistant
"There was no National League deal to be made," says Jim Crane; any new ownerwould be forced to move
When Jim Crane took the podium for the first time as the baseball-approved new owner of the Houston Astros, it quickly became apparent that he wanted to make one thing clear. Forget the usual new sports owner bouquets of this being "probably the biggest day of my life." Crane would say that, but later—away from the stage and almost as an afterthought.
No, this point was bigger than that. Bigger than him.
"We certainly wanted to own a National League team," Crane said at Minute Maid Park Thursday afternoon. "But that wasn't going to happen. This was an AL deal and we got an AL deal done."
Later on the side, Crane emphasized it again. "There was no National League deal to be made."
Crane is so determined to make sure that Astros fans know that he is not behind the team switching leagues that he insisted that the compensation paid by Major League Baseball go directly to exiting owner Drayton McLane rather than Crane's new ownership. Instead, Crane and his group renegotiated the purchase price of the Astros from the $680 million they were willing to pay for a NL team in Houston to $610 million for the AL team in Houston the Astros are to become, starting in 2013.
"You can make a lot of arguments that the AL won't be that bad," Jim Crane said.
Baseball is making up the difference in the purchase price to McLane, much like it does in its revenue sharing for small-market teams.
After going through an arduous approval process, Crane wasn't about to sugarcoat his feelings on the league switch. As CultureMap first reported back on June 11, Crane opposed moving the Astros to the American League from the very beginning. He hated the idea as soon it was brought up. In the end, he and his partners decided to accept the league switch rather than walking away as their contract with McLane allowed.
"We could have left the team in limbo," Crane said. "But we didn't feel that was right for the city of Houston or the Astros either."
Crane says that MLB commissioner Bud Selig made it clear to him that whoever the new owner of Astros ended up being would end up controlling an AL rather than an NL team. Whether that owner happened to be Jim Crane or the next guy McLane convinced to buy the team.
Still, now that Houston is AL bound, Crane hopes that Astros fans will try and make the best of it.
"You can make a lot of arguments that the AL won't be that bad," Crane said.
Yes, even now that he's officially approved as the new owner a tepid not "that bad" is about the best endorsement Crane is willing to give the league switch. You have to appreciate the honesty.
The actual closing of the sale is expected to happen on Tuesday with Crane cracking, "Drayton will probably need a Brink's Truck when we're finished paying him off."
For much more from Minute Maid Park, check back on CultureMap.