Losing is fun for no one. It takes its toll on the fanbase, the front office, the coaching staff and certainly the players as well. Players start the season raring to go. They show up early for Spring Training and stay up late at night watching film of themselves to see what went wrong during the previous year, all in hopes that they can help their team “shock the world”. They get on Twitter and tweet inspirational quotes to their teammates, finishing the message with a #Belief or an #OnAMission. Doing all of this will only keep you motivated for so long and once the losing streak ensues, doubt and dread start to creep in.
I am very familiar with playing in a losing culture. I played high school baseball at a very successful small school where we made deep playoff runs year after year. We had great fan support and were shocked if we lost a game. After high school, I committed to play college baseball for a team that had been cellar dwellers in their conference for several consecutive years, and had hit a low point the year before I got there, going 4-36. I went in there hoping to help change things and to help turn the team around. The problem is that once a team goes that long without winning, the team accepts losing. Accepting and even expecting losses is something that can happen to even the most highly motivated young players. Things did not turn around for that team until a new coach came in and all of the old coach’s players were gone.
It is important for the Houston Astros to have some success this season. Not necessarily a winning record, but crawling out of the cellar would be a start. They have been given the opportunity to have a fresh start in a new league, with new uniforms and a new manager. They cannot listen to the baseball writers calling them “an embarrassment to baseball” or pay attention to outnumbered home crowds at Minute Maid Park. Young, inexperienced players allow these things to get to them, and the Astros roster is filled with young, inexperienced players. Another season like last year’s could just reaffirm the loser mentality that may have started to settle in and set the team back even further.
The Astros owner, Jim Crane, and General Manager, Jeff Luhnow, knew this all too well when they decided to hire new manager Bo Porter. Porter is an intense, fiery young guy with a football background. While you probably won’t be seeing Porter give his team a Ray Lewis type pregame speech in the dugout, his desire and motivational skills should help to keep the players positive and playing at their best, even in the midst of a losing streak. Bo Porter will never accept losing, and he definitely will not allow his players to accept it either.
While I believe that Brad Mills had the skills to be a good Major League manager, I don’t believe that he had the right personality type to lead this Astros team. Bo Porter does. He is the breath of fresh air that this organization needs. Porter will motivate this team and help them to stay focused. He will be able to get the best out of this team. If that means that the 2013 Astros lose 115 games this year, at least we can take comfort in knowing that they gave everything they had give.