The expectations for the Houston Astros this season are beyond low. Most national sportswriters are predicting another worst-in-baseball season and many are suggesting the team, now in the tougher American League West, will make a run at a record setting losing season.
I’m not completely sold.
I don’t think the 2013 Houston Astros are a foregone conclusion. Now, before you bust out the straight jacket and have me committed, hear me out. I don’t think anyone can possibly know what to expect of the Astros this season. Yes, if you look at the roster in attendance at Spring Training you’ll do a lot of ”who?” and “really?” before you hit a name that you think has long term, big league potential. But there’s a factor that I believe will be more influential than a list of unknown’s on the roster – Bo Porter.
Don’t get me wrong, Bo Porter’s not the second coming, but I think he’s exactly what the doctor ordered for the Houston Astros. Remember last year as we all laughed and groaned and cried as the Astros made silly error after silly error, so much so that the .gifs of their antics were in the running for awards of worst plays on some fan sites?
Of course you remember all of that. What those behaviors and plays come down to is reactions. When the pressure is on, human beings react instinctively, they don’t think, rationalize, weigh the pros and cons and consequences of their actions – they just act. The past few seasons fans have witnessed some really poor actions on the field at Minute Maid Park. The ranting on twitter is comical – the base running errors, the throwing errors, the little league mentality of a major league team.
Not all the name calling has been fair, but some of it was certainly well earned. I expect to do less of that this season. I expect to see fewer silly errors. I hope to never say “little league” and “Astros” in the same sentence. What’s all this expectation and hope riding on? Bo Porter.
I’ll admit it, he charmed me a bit, with his jovial personality and nice-guy smile, Bo Porter knows how to win someone over. But more importantly, Porter’s got good things to say about his approach and why it will be different. I asked him a while back if he’d be addressing those fundamentals that so often failed to produce good reactions in the past few years.
“As a team, we will be prepared differently than they have been prepared in the past.” The way in which Porter conveys thoughts like that one make you just know he’s passionate and believes what he’s saying heart and soul. To listen to him explain the 5 P’s (Proper Preparation Produces Peak Performers) is akin to listening to a Southern Baptist preacher on Sunday morning.
Porter’s hand slaps the table for emphasis, he leans into his statement and enunciates every word. The man means business. And reports from Spring Training camp say he’s hands on, more so than any other manager has been.
All of this makes me smile at the thought process behind Bo Porter’s hiring. I already thought Jeff Luhnow was a pretty bright guy, but his best move thus far may just be the jovial and passionate manager that brings a background of not just baseball knowledge, but a hard core football love as well. When your team is made up of young guns and no names, I think the guy you want leading the pack is someone like Bo, a little bit southern charmer and a little bit old school strict father. He’ll give you all the love you want, but you better have picked up your room and respected your mother that day. Yes, just what the doctor ordered, indeed.
So if you want to count out the Houston Astros, feel free, but I just can’t do it -not with Bo Porter at the helm.
Terri Schlather (AGirlintheSouth) is the tortured Senior Houston Astros Writer for Aerys Sports. You can email her at email@example.com, or follow her ridiculous ramblings on sports, vodka and the weeone on twitter @agirlinthesouth.