Thursday, September 27, 2012

Astros get a new manager

There's one week left in the season, and the Astros, at 51-105, are on track to have their losingest season in franchise history, topping last year's 106-loss debacle. Last night was the final home game of the season. It was also Minute Maid Park's final night as a National League field. 18,712 hearty souls watched the Astros manage a 2-0 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals. Pitcher Bud Norris, who was credited with the win, will go down in history as the last pitcher ever to bat at Minute Maid. Last night was also the final game for legendary broadcaster Milo Hamilton, who is hanging up his microphone after 28 years.

I was not (and still am not) a fan of the Astros moving to the American League next season. But like it or not, it's going to happen. The only thing that can be done now is to hope that the Astros are more competitive in the AL than they have been in their last several seasons in the NL.

To that end, earlier today the Astros announced the hiring of Bo Porter as their next manager. Porter is currently the third base coach for the Washington Nationals; he will stay with the Nats through their playoff run before officially taking over as Astros skipper.

Will Porter be the one to reverse the Astros' sagging fortunes? The Chronicle's Jerome Solomon goes to the history books to suggest that he probably won't:
It is a bad deal to become manager of the club that has lost more than 100 games two years in a row.

When you look at MLB history, the guys who stepped in either during the second 100-loss campaign or immediately afterward weren’t on those jobs long. It’s probably a good thing Porter already lives here, because history says his expiration date his managerial milk cartoon is sometime in 2015 … if he’s lucky.

Hey, maybe Porter can buck history. Everything I have heard makes you want to root for him, and he is a guy who knows what he is doing and works well with young players.
I am skeptical as well. Porter has no previous experience as a manager and no experience at all in the American League. For a team undergoing a comprehensive rebuilding process and switching leagues at the same time, he seems like an odd choice. However, owner Jim Crane and general manager Jeff Luhnow obviously see something in him, and for what it's worth he gets rave reviews from his current team (which, incidentally, has gone from 103 losses to the playoffs in the span of four seasons). Time will tell, and I wish Porter the best.

As for 2012 Astros season, the only good thing that can be said about it is that it is almost over. It sucks that the team has to end 51 years of National League play on such an ingloriously low note, but such is the nature of sports. Especially sports in Houston.

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