Astros sale approved, team will move to AL West in 2013

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MLB commissioner Bud Selig announced Thursday afternoon that the sale of the Houston Astros from former owner Drayton McLane to new owner Jim Crane has been unanimously approved.

This according to CBS Sports’ Danny Knobler.

As part of the agreement, the Astros will be moved to the American League West in 2013, with Crane getting a $70 million discount on the sale price of the team. That will even out baseball’s two leagues at 15 teams apiece and allow for the fair implementation of two additional Wild Card spots. It also means that interleague play is going to be a year-round thing.

The dual Wild Card system hasn’t been completely mapped out yet, but the expectation is that those two additional postseason teams will engage in a one-game playoff a day or two after the regular season. The other option, presumably, would be a three-game series.

Red Sox to extend protective netting at Fenway Park in 2018

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The Red Sox are the latest team to extend the protective netting at their ballpark this winter. According to a statement by club president Sam Kennedy, the exact dimensions of the netting have yet to be determined, but it will likely stretch “all the way to Field Box 79, down the left field line and then all the way down to almost Canvas Alley in the Field Box 9 area.”

Fenway Park received additional protective netting prior to the 2016 season, when the netting behind home plate was lengthened to the home and visitor dugouts. Per Kennedy’s statement, the current expansion should cover everything but the outfield corners, making it nearly impossible for a line drive foul to reach fans in the lower boxes.

After a toddler sustained serious injuries from a 105-MPH foul ball to the face at Yankee Stadium last September, over half of all MLB teams decided to take more extreme preventative measures in advance of the 2018 season. The Brewers, Cardinals, Braves, Astros, Royals, Pirates, Rangers, Padres, Nationals, Mariners, Phillies, Mets, Reds, Blue Jays, Giants, Yankees, Twins and Indians are among the organizations to address the issue over the last several years, while others have yet to take significant action.