Blame McLane While You're Kicking Bud

added 11/21/2011 by Willie B. Lakey

"Drayton (McLane) should have a wonderful legacy of what he did for the Astros, got them a new ballpark and did all these things. He sure left a much better franchise than when he came in." -- MLB commissioner Bud Selig

The first thing you should know about Bud Selig is that he has been repeatedly reminded when under oath that he is indeed under oath. In testimony on issues like baseball's financial disclosures to the whole sordid steroids scandal, Allan Huber "Bud" Selig has proven to be a very unreliable witness at best.

His words about outgoing Houston Astros owner Drayton McLane are really no different than any of the other malarkey he's been shoveling for years.

But while I come not to necessarily praise Bud, it should be pointed out that this was indeed a shrewd play by the old car salesman. He could have forced Arizona into the AL West back in 1998 and been done with all this then. Or the other 27 owners in 1997 could've told him to stuff it, his Milwaukee Brewers were staying in the AL.

Instead, he was able to wait for a weak franchise to show itself, something he was possibly good at when leasing autos in his younger years. Why, I bet if Astros fans closed their eyes right now, they might easily imagine a young Bud Selig talking a guy out of the sensible sedan he wanted for his family and instead putting him into a used Miata with an enormous balloon payment in about 16 months.

Still, as big of a horse's butt Selig might be, Astros fans need to look elsewhere to place blame in the latest developments. The approval of Jim Crane as the new managing partner of bazillionaires means our beloved Astros are moving to the American League. It's a raw deal, no doubt. But direct your initial anger at McLane.

McLane was a limp rod in the string all along. Like all the rest of you dummies, I bought into it for awhile, and no, you can't argue with the team's postseason history during his run as the big guy in the boardroom. One can't also help to think the little $35 million hit McLane reportedly took to discount the final sales price, contingent on the move to the AL, won't hurt him too bad. So the club was a financial success, and if we ever see the real books, I'm quite certain that can be proven.

Sure, the owners don't care about you and me and every other Astros fan. And yes, the designated hitter experiment has failed. But once you get past your anger for Selig and McLane, once you realize there's no such thing as tradition in sports these days, understand this isn't a really bad move.

I hate the idea of switching leagues as much as the next guy or gal, but had the Brewers stayed in the AL or the D-Backs started in the AL back in 1998, the Astros would've been shifted to the NL West in all likelihood. Being in the same division with the Rangers now actually means fewer West Coast start times than if we were in the NL West.

The most popular rumor about that schedule will mean an extra 12-15 games per year starting around 9:30 to 10:15 p.m. local Bayou City time. It breaks down to 72 games against division foes (4 x 18), a three-game home-and-away series with the other teams in your league (10 x 6), and 30 interleague games.

The AL-NL matchups should be divided up with like divisions (AL West/NL West) meeting each other every season for three games each (5 x 3), and then alternating between the other two AL/NL divisions for the other 15 games (5 x 3).

If that holds, it's a dramatic improvement to scheduling overall, and if there's one really good thing to take from this, it's a much better MLB schedule. Again, if that schedule holds. There are other schedules being discussed, none near as balanced as the one just mentioned.

As for the DH bit, relax. Crane and the new partners reportedly received around $70 million for acquiescing on behalf of the franchise. Surely they'll spend that money on at least one good hitter, right?

Acquiescing is a French for "bending over in the presence of Bud Selig," in case you didn't know. Just don't forget McLane's part in this whole deal.