Not sure how Houston was induced into this move, but it's certainly for the greater good of MLB.
My opinions: MLB has suffered from some bizzare structural issues, that need to get fixed.
It has been / continues to address some of these...
1. AL and NL had different strike zones (NL was bottom of knees to just above belt, AL was top of knees to letters)
AL umps stood directly behind catcher, NL umps peaked over catcher's inside shoulder.
When umpires went on stirke and umpire union was broken, MLB rehired umps as MLB umps.
They sent all umps to a school to learn a standardized strike zone.
The home plate umpire stance was standardized to the AL (directly behind the catcher, looking over the catcher's head).
All MLB parks are now equipped with the automated pitch tracking, and MLB reviews home plate umpires and grades them on their calls of balls / strikes.
2. When MLB went to 30 teams, Selig was told unless each league had even number of teams, htere would be constant BYEs.
Correct unless you have inter-league play year-round. At the time inter-league play was in experimental mode,
So Selig decided that one league would need to have 16 teams and one 14 teams, and he "gratiously" moved his Brewers to the NL.
This solved the problem with BYEs, but led to some grossly unfair situations.
AL West had 4 teams, NL Central had 6 teams. Clearly an NL Central team faced a competitive disadvantage.
This also led to teams having non-standard schedules.
The new CBA moves Houston (probably the best choice) to the AL West.
KC might also have been a possibility, but this still would have required an NL -> AL move.
Now all divisions have 5, both leagues have 15.
On a typical night, here will be 7 AL vs. AL games, 7 NL vs. NL games, and 1 AL vs. NL game.
It is also possible to have 6 AL vs., AL games, 6 NL vs. NL games, and 3 AL vs. NL games.
The schedulers have not yet released the new format, however the following is now possible:
vs. 4 teams within your division: 9H, 9A = 18 x 4 = 72 games
vs. 10 other teams in your league: 3H, 3A = 6 x 10 = 60 games
vs. one of the 5 team divisions in ohter league (rotates every 3 years): 3H, 3A = 6 X 5 = 30 games
72 + 60 + 30 = 162 games
(a fairly balanced schedule - everyone within a given division plays the same opponents the same number of games).
This has the potential to fix the schedule much like the NFL has.
3. Like the DH or not, it's eally awkward to have different rules fo rthe different leagues.
MLB needs to have EITHER the NL adopt the DH, or the AL drop it.
I don't care, but it's stupid right now.
The one games that screams for a DH is the All-Star Games.
NOBODY, but NOBODY wants to watch a pitcher bat during an All-Star Game.
Everyone wants to see this best hitters go bat against the best pitchers.
Originally I didn't care for the DH, but MLB needs to market baseball as MLB, not 2 separate leagues with different rules.
Flip a coin, standardize the rule, and move on. Apparently the MLBPA likes the DH, as it lets some aging sluggers hang around.
That is reasonably popular, and most fans like to see a bit more offense, so if the Union demands the DH, so be it.
4. The one game playoff between the 2 Wild Cards is too short. Very quickly, you will see some bizarre unintended consequences of this.
It provides an incentive to rest the team's one ace. A Wild card with an ace, is far better off that a superior all-around team.
If it is apparent that you will be a Wild Card, you will tank games at the end of the season, and set your rotation.
The pitching ace MUST be conserved.
Two teams in a close race for the division must make a hard choice, whether to use the ace at the end in an effeort to win the division,
or possibly concede the division and preserve the ace for the 1-game Wild Card playoff.
This kind of thing will ABSOLUTLEY occur very quickly, and I predict there will quickly be a push to expand the Wild Card round to at least best 2/3.