Astroball by Ben Reiter

It was a dream coming true. Being a fan for over three decades, I was finally going to see a World Series game in person. My brother (somehow) scored some tickets and he invited me to come along. We arrived early and entered as soon as the gates opened. It was a surreal experience.

This was Game 2 of the 2017 World Series. The Los Angeles Dodgers easily took game one from the Houston Astros. Game 2 was going to be a great match up. Rich Hill and Justin Verlander were starting.

Going into the top of the ninth, the Dodgers were up by a run. In comes the most dominant closer in baseball at the time, Kenly Jansen. Everything was going smoothly. The Dodgers were 2 outs away from leading the series 2-0.

And then Jansen gave a home run to tie the game. The stadium went silent. In the top of the 10th, the Astros scored two. The stadium wasn’t just silent, it felt like a black hole of noise. In the bottom of the 10th, the Dodgers miraculously tied it up with 2 runs. The Dodger faithful, such as I, were ecstatic. In the top of 11th, the Astros put another 2 runs on the board. My body could not tolerate the chemical imbalance of such sudden highs and lows. Unfortunately, the Dodgers couldn’t pull off the magic again and they lost Game 2.

This was the end of the World Series for me. I knew this game was the turning point. There was no recovery. Though the series went to game seven, I knew the Astros were in the driver’s seat the whole time.

Astroball is the story of the Houston Astros from the embarrassing laughingstock of an organization to the one of the best teams ever. I am a deep blue Dodger fan, but I respect the Houston Astros. They are a great team put together by some of the brightest brains in the business.

The subtitle for this book, “The New Way to Win It All” is rather misleading. This book is just another chapter in the sabermetrics story. The Astros finally hired smart people to run the organization and now they have built a champion and contending powerhouse. There is nothing unique to the story, it is just another story. The characters are interesting and the stories are great, but nothing here is novel.