A look at the book that will change what you know about the Astros rise to the World Series.
As a blogger covering the Houston Astros, you think you know everything about the team. With the limited access to the team, we don’t always get to hear the whole story. The local beat writers are the closest to the team, but there are still some things that they don’t know or don’t report. There are certain things that the public doesn’t need to know. The best thing though is to learn about something after the fact, like trades that almost were.
As we all experienced our first World Series championship in 2017, we witnessed history. As we can see by the increased attendance this season, Astros fans want more. There have had been many Astros championship magazines and photo books documenting the Astros rise to the top. Brian McTaggart has even updated his book, 100 Things Astros Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die to include the 2017 World Series Run. Brian T. Smith has also come out with his own book documenting the Astros rise.
Ben Reiter offers an inside look with his new book.
However, an outsider, Ben Reiter, has thrown what he knows into his own book. Reiter believed in the Astros before they believed in themselves.
Reiter was the architect behind the 2014 Sports Illustrated article/cover predicting that the Astros would win the World Series in 2017. In his new book, Astroball, Reiter reflects on the people, the analysis, and the plans for the Astros centered around GM Jeff Luhnow. Reiter also discussed the other options that were supposed to be on that cover.
Reiter also discusses his time with the Astros, where he got a feel of what the team was trying to do. For about of week, Reiter had full access to the front office interworking, including the 2014 MLB Draft. With the access, he got a chance to get to know the key contributors in Jeff Luhnow, Mike Elias, and Sig Mejdal.
Throughout the book, you get to know these people and how they learned how to use their abilities to help lead to a championship. While many people would feel like Luhnow was the primary focus of the book, a lot of credit goes to Mejdal. Both Luhnow and Mejdal used their ability to change a sport that they didn’t play. Tom Verducci said it best, “Ben Reiter gives us an inside look at the state of the art of winning baseball.”
The title suggests that the book just looks at what the front office did to get to 2017.
But instead, it looks deep into some of the primary players rise to the top. By now, we all know the back story of Jose Altuve. Reiter gives us a visual of being there while Carlos Correa was growing up in Puerto Rico and the sacrifices his parents made to get him there. We see the determination in “Javier” to become the best player at a young age.
Speaking of Correa, Reiter gives us an inside look into the scouting and decision to make him the one-one pick. Plus, he gives us a deep look inside the draft room of the 2014 draft where they debated between multiple players, eventually settling on Brady Aiken. We all love Alex Bregman now. Reiter gives us an inside look into why the Astros were jumping for joy to draft him.
He perfectly describes the adjustments that Dallas Keuchel made to become the ace without the power stuff. How the Astros used PitchFx to make Collin McHugh a better pitcher. The biggest part of what Reiter writes is something we already knew. Carlos Beltran was a big factor during the 2017 season. You will walk with Beltran during his tug and war battle between being the team leader and being a family man.
This book is not only about the successes. It also looks at the failures.
Reiter does not just look at the good times. He takes us back to the 2013 season with the Butt Slide and the controversies of the 2014 season. We get a look at the beginning of Luhnow’s career with the Cardinals leading up to what became ‘Hack Gate’. Right around the time that the trade discussions were leaked was when the SI cover was published.
Remember J.D. Martinez? Luhnow sure does. Reiter does a great job discussing the events leading up to Martinez’s release and his rise up to become a power hitter. A little hint, Martinez was on the verge of fixing himself when the Astros let him go. The Astros system was not perfect but led to a change in thinking along the way.
This whole book reads as a potential movie script where time is not linear. You will find yourself walking behind Justin Verlander as he decides to accept the trade to Houston. Luhnow had an emotional rollercoaster ride trying to get that deal done. Reiter describes it perfectly. Go back in time as the Astrodome is being built and recall your childhood memories of the giant scoreboard.
I could give you more details, but the best way for you to know what it says is to read it yourself. It should hit bookshelves tomorrow via Crown Publishing. I have seen several people on social media already have their books on pre-order, get yours today. Since his SI cover, Reiter has become synonymous with the Astros. While you are reading this book, you will appreciate the research it took to complete this book.
Ben, if you are reading this, thanks for the glimmer of hope you gave us with the SI cover back in 2014. We understood what the team was doing, but you gave us something to look forward to.