The long-awaited sale of the Houston Astros should happen at the owner’s meeting which is taking place tomorrow in Milwaukee, although it may take longer to negotiate the final details of the transaction, according to last weekend’s Houston Chronicle and Associated Press’ information.

So when the deal is finalized, Jim Crane will purchase the team from Drayton McLane for a reportedly $680 million, PROVIDED the new owner and his group of investors agrees to move the franchise from the National League to the American League, effective in 2013.

Baseball commissioner Bud Selig has been trying for the last couple of years to persuade one of the 16 members of the National League to move to the American League to balance major league baseball with 15 teams in each league, instead of the 16-14 split it has had for decades.

The Houston Astros have been a member of the National League since 1962 and in the six-member NL Central Division since 1994.

However Selig had been flatly turned down by all 16 National League teams. So being the sly person he is, Selig simply told Crane and McLane that in order for the deal to be consummated, the Astros would have to join the American League, according to persons familiar to the situation.

“The Associated Press, citing two people who spoke on condition of anonymity, also reports the sale is on the owners’ agenda and that part of the sale agreement would involve the Astros moving to the American League, effective in 2013,” Saturday’s edition of the Houston Chronicle reported.

The article continued that the AL agreement would appear to be the final hurdle for Crane to close the deal he and McLane announced May 16. The newspaper reported Nov. 4 that the $680 million purchase appeared to be headed for approval Thursday, with the AL negotiations being one of the final sticking points.

“If it’s on the agenda, then the deal is done,” commented one person with knowledge of the situation. “They usually don’t get this far unless it’s something that’s going to be acted on,” another person with knowledge of the situation said.

However, Crane appeared on the verge of taking control of the team at the last meeting at Cooperstown in August when the sale was on the agenda of the owners’ meeting.

But Major League Baseball subsequently pulled the vote from the agenda five days before a scheduled owners’ vote, citing the need to further scrutinize Crane and his investors.

The Chronicle article added that two other developments that placed approval of the sale on the back burner were the divorce/bankruptcy case of Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt and the desire of Selig and the Players Association to re-align into two 15-team leagues.

The player’s association has pushed for a switch to two 15-team leagues, saying it would create a more equitable schedule. What they really mean in-between the lines is that the realignment will produce more revenue with two additional wild-card entries into the playoffs.

The Astros most likely would move to the American League West Division, joining the Los Angeles Angels, Oakland Athletics, Seattle Mariners and the rival Texas Rangers.

The poor dyed-in-wool Houston Astros fans would have to practically re-learn the game of baseball with the designated hitter. And just think about when the Astros are playing division rivals on the road, those televised games in LA, Oakland and Seattle will all be ending way after midnight.

The American League version of major league baseball certainly will be much simpler for Brad Mills to manage without having to worry about all those double-switches that sometimes puts the pitcher in the clean-up spot in the lineup.

If a pitcher is having a rough inning, the Mills won’t have to wait because he’s planning on using a pinch-hitter when the team comes off the field. He can change pitchers immediately without disrupting the offensive lineup.

And gone from Minute Maid Park will be those St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubbies fans that show up in droves to root against the Astros.

The upcoming transfer of ownership from McLane to Crane could very well be a sad day for many diehard Houston Astros fans, kind of like those 106 losses they endured last season.

KWICKIES…It was very difficult writing last week’s article about the Penn State fiasco on Sunday with the paper hitting the streets on Wednesday. Many events came to light AFTER the column was finished and already set to print that would have caused less speculation and a more factual piece.

The West Orange-Stark Mustangs have had many successful football playoff games at Moorhead Stadium in Conroe over the years. Let’s hope that success continues when they play the Columbus Cardinals there Friday night at 7:30 p.m.

Former West Orange-Stark and Texas Longhorns star Earl Thomas had a big hand in the Seattle Seahawks’ 22-17 upset victory over the Baltimore Ravens Sunday. Earl maintained his status as the Seahawks’ leading tackler with 63 including 47 solo stops and forced a Ravens’ fumble on a kickoff return that gave Seattle an easy score.

Sunset Grove Country Club golfer Lynn Ashcraft made a hole-in-one Saturday on the Par-3 160-yard No. 14 hole over the water. He used a five-iron and was playing with Larry Moerbe, Kenny Ruane and Jerry Hughes. It was the fifth ace for the retired preacher, who at age 71 shot 68 for the round.

It didn’t take the World Champion St. Louis Cardinals long to find a replacement for recently-retired manager Tony La Russa as former Cardinal catcher Larry Matheny was introduced Monday as the Redbirds’ new skipper. Matheny, 40, played for St. Louis from 2000-2004 and won three of his four Gold Gloves. He became a team leader playing for La Russa.

A three-over-par third round of 75 proved costly last weekend in the Emirates Australian Open for Tiger Woods as he finished third, two-strokes behind winner Greg Chalmers at Sydney. Tiger shot 68-67 and finished with a 67 as he slowly tries to get his game back to where it was a few years ago.

JUST BETWEEN US…The Houston Texans got off to another fast start Sunday at Tampa Bay and just kept up the onslaught, winning 37-9 against the stunned Buccaneers. The win, Houston’s fourth straight, elevated the Texans’ record to 7-3, tying them with the Pittsburgh Steelers for the best record in the AFC. It was another great performance by the NFL’s No. 1 defense, which registered four sacks, and another feather in the cap for defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, an Orange native. Offensively, the rushing game netted 185 yards and three touchdowns. Hopefully this momentum will continue after the Texans go into their bye week and play at Jacksonville Nov. 27, trying for the first single-season five-game winning streak in team history.