Book Reviews

“Liftoff!: The Tank, the Storm, and the Astros’ Improbable Ascent to Baseball Immortality” by Brian T. Smith

Book review at Knup Sports

This book deals with how the Houston Astros had 55 years of bad baseball and then GM Jeff Luhnow made some smart moves and now they are World Series champs.

This is a different review for me as it is the first one I read digitally. That is not something I liked to do.

The Astros went 55 years since they had won a World Series. The fans were hungry and the management was antsy to become relevant. Enter a new General Manager in Jeff Luhnow. He was once a statistics guru for the St. Louis Cardinals. In fact, his ideas were so new there was tension in the Cardinals management about what he said and wanted to see done. It got so bad that the GM at the moment, Walt Jocketty got fired for not being able to keep up with the current times.  

Times were lean but Luhnow had a plan. At the beginning of the plan, it was to not be competitive. Go slow, makes a few trades and use analytics to help in the drafting of players for the future. Many called it “tanking”. In this book, author Brian T. Smith was there for it all. He chronicles the 2011 magical season that saw the Astros draft Carlos Correa with the first pick and the skillset of Jose Altuve grow by leaps and bounds.

The acquisition of veteran pitcher Justin Verlander came to Houston to solidify the pitching staff. This story is about teammates, mostly young, that were able to hang together and create an environment of winning in Houston. They played the right way and packed the stadium almost nightly.

It is about their place in baseball history. If you are an Astros fan you will love it. If you are a baseball fan, you should read it. It is a blueprint for teams trying to get out of the depths of despair and reach the top of the baseball food chain.

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