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Motivation Man

Bo Porter knows winning? Football mentality, intensity of Astros new manager touted

When the Houston Astros new manager walks into a room, you'll notice. Astros owner Jim Crane and general manager Jeff Luhnow are sure of that.

Bo Porter has a presence, an intensity, a way about him that commands attention. And that just may be because this Bo knows football too.

"He's a pretty unique individual," Luhnow said after officially announcing the hiring of the 17th manager in Astros history. "He brings something of a football mentality having played at Iowa under a pretty amazing coach."

Word of Porter's hiring came out overnight, getting reported by CultureMap and other online-only outlets as traditional newspapers were left scrambling and unable to get anything into their Thursday papers. That's the way these Astros of Crane work. They're not bound by outdated conventions and they don't really care about the way things used to be done.

 "He's a natural born leader," Luhnow said. "He's charismatic. He's a motivational speaker. He's able to get the best out of people." 

"I think you'll find that when we have a chance to move on something, we get it done," Crane said. "We're not much for waiting around."

The Astros aim to be a baseball team for a new age in America and sports, one where cutting-edge methods are not only recognized but embraced. Luhnow believes the 40-year-old Porter fits in perfectly with that even if his background seems more traditional baseball at first glance.

"He's appreciative of the impact technology's had on the game," Luhnow said. "He's interested in engaging in that. He's curious. He has an analytical mind."

In other words, Porter is very much on board with the stats-driven, Moneyball-type approach favored by Crane, Luhnow and team president George Postolos.

Still, it's Porter's intangibles — though you never know, Luhnow might have come up with a way to measure personality as well — that really pushed him over the top in a hiring search that started with 49 names.

"He's a natural born leader," Luhnow said. "He's charismatic. He's a motivational speaker. He's able to get the best out of people."

Porter gained noticed as a managerial candidate during his current run as the Washington Nationals third base coach. Luhnow freely admits the Nationals are the organization the Astros are trying to emulate. But Porter's time as a defensive back at Iowa under Hall of Fame football coach Hayden Fry may have been even more important to the development of his style.

"Hayden Fry is one of those guys who's had a huge impact on my life," Porter said in a conference call (he'll stay with the Nationals until they are knocked out of the playoffs or win the World Series). " . . . I think for people that know me best, I guess intense would be the word they'd use.

"I'm a passionate person. I'm passionate about getting a job done the right way." 

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