I've seen some pity expressed toward and by Houston Astros fans for the nuisance of having some games starting at 9pm local time once they move to the AL West beginning in 2013. That's certainly a sucky thing. I remember unfondly the days of living on the east coast and rooting for the Mariners and having to deal with their 10pm start times. Earlier start times, for everything, is just another reason why living on the west coast is the best.*
*Except compared to those jerks in Hawai'i. Or New Zealand. I am so moving to New Zealand.
However, the record needs to be set straight. The Houston Astros will be joining the American League in 2013 and moving into the division shared by the only three (Seattle Mariners, Oakland Athletics and Anaheim Angels) AL Pacific time zone teams. Yes, the Astros will be playing some road games that start after 9pm back in Houston. But the Astros already do that! The National League has four (Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants and Arizona Diamondbacks*) teams on Pacific time and another one (Colorado Rockies) on Mountain time.
*Arizona does not follow Daylight Savings Time, so during non-winter months the rest of the country (including Houston) skips ahead and Arizona stays put on Mountain Standard, equivalent to Pacific Daylight.
The Astros play and visit the NL West. Not as often as they will visit and play the AL West in 2013, but the AL West contains the Texas Rangers and also only has four opponent teams since it will be intra-division. To wit, here is the total number of games the Astros have played or are scheduled to play in the Pacific or Mountain time zones:
2009: 17 Pacific, 3 Mountain
2010: 12 Pacific, 4 Mountain
2011: 18 Pacific, 3 Mountain
2012: 16 Pacific, 4 Mountain
2013: 27 Pacific*, 0 Mountain
*In a five-team division, the standard has been for each team to play each division mate 18 times, 9 home/away.
It's an increase in the number of late (for them) start times, but not a dramatic one. There's a bit of fudge factor because I'm not considering inter-league games since I don't know how that will look starting in 2013. Still, going from an average of ~19-20 such games to ~27 is probably mildly irritating and I understand that it's unlikely to be the result of any one thing, but rather the complete package of change that is causing such uproar from Astro fans, but this particular argument rings hollow to me. Rationally, the complaint against more west coast games should be a mere velleity compared to other displeasing factors for their fans.