Outfielder Lance Berkman Says Bud Selig ‘Extorted’ Astros Owner into Switching to American League

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Outfielder Lance Berkman Says Bud Selig 'Extorted' Astros Owner into Switching to American LeagueLance Berkman is roaming the outfield for the St. Louis Cardinals this season, but he isn't shy about saying what he thinks about his longtime team, the Houston Astros, being moved to the American League next year.

Berkman, who played for the Astros for 12 years, slammed Bud Selig yesterday for requiring Houston to leave the National League as part of the team’s sale to new owner Jim Crane in November, according to ESPN.

"I feel basically like the commissioner extorted Jim Crane into moving the Astros," Berkman said yesterday.

Houston will play in the American League West starting in the 2013 season, playing in the same division as the Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Angels, Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners. The move leaves both leagues with 15 teams, with five teams a division.

Crane, who got a reported price break from $680 million to $615 million by agreeing to the realignment, said yesterday that the sale "was a good deal for baseball" and said Berkman could have his own opinion.

Berkman gave several reasons the move is bad for Astros fans, including the new competition and scheduling times, but he said his biggest objection was the erosion of the team's National League past. The Astros have been in the National League since the team began as the Colt .45's in 1962.

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