Bradfo Sho, Ep. 48: The story behind the best baseball headline ever

The Bradfo Sho
Wednesday, October 25th

Rob Bradford is joined by Sports Illustrated managing editor Chris Stone and SI senior writer Ben Reiter to discuss the story Reiter did on the Houston Astros back in June, 2014. Along with unprecedented access to the current American League champs, the piece will be remembered for the cover on that issue: 'Your 2017 World Series Champs' The proclamation, of course, came after the Astros had won just 51 games the year before. The pair offers an entertaining and informative account on what may go down as one of the best predictions in recent memory.


Transcript - Not for consumer use. Robot overlords only. Will not be accurate.

I would it comes to headlines. There are good deadlines in there are great headlines in there are transcendent headlines in there are are those type of stories as well and I think that what we're about to talk about. It encompasses all of them because when you IV was June to June 30. 2014. Guys right is that right. Yeah yeah so Chris stone managing editor at Sports Illustrated right. Okay in bad writer who wrote the piece writer for Sports Illustrated who wrote the story we're about to talk about about the Houston Astros are bowl on the line here. And not guys were small thanks so much for joining us I get a B on C this is the first time I've ever had an editor writer. Podcast to all the same time so law. We're making history. And that's being put at the big day. It's like even bigger then. It was. Our men and that's the thing guys right I mean that's the thing is that. This isn't this isn't something I called kid had a good year. And and you guys had put this is this the headline on that the cover Sports Illustrated. But it is like. You said this is going to happen in war on the verge of it actually happening is and the reason why it destruct me it I don't know if you guys feel let's get in the play it deserves. But I'm trying to give it the play deserves because we try to do this stuff all the time fighters out and people come close but they don't come this close. Up. Dick do you guys feel Qaeda and Chris I'll start with the new do you feel like this is. This is this is people understand of what a leap of faith this wise and and how far you've come in how what and where he's hitting right now. Preface this by demonstrate how humble we look at a a World Series champion correctly since 1999 yankees. Now as a team that was coming off a historical record can win season so you know we've had a pretty rough pats. Decades. That we recognize that and we recognize also the Astros come back a year ago when this World Series we are going to cool. But. Outlets and it it's a lot of fun more than anything else. We're not looking for a lot of attention around this prediction and and Clinton is. Based upon the prediction. It's just it's a lot. Fun and that's what fund this vehicle talk about it see if we. Yes could take this final step in when the World Series obviously that the group will step backwards last night. We're just gonna have become. I would say yes I think that we hear yours you can credit the says prediction. It really kind of plot itself into the national consciousness. I guess pizza place it's eight. Our motivation from reading years ago. I'm trying to make this prediction could be controversial. You know it was not. Tape we're not exactly big. This is Perry will leave it there I heard by the Edwards story that it appeared that if you explaining why we our ability. Predicting anywhere period yeah at the beginning I think you can see it's a long shot. You know these guys. Well bad let me ask you this so. Before we get into like way and actually the the the thinking for it came about I'll go back to this year once again. Having written the story excellent story and having and looked at what they have done Houston Astros have done over the last few years. Did you look at it knowing what you knew knowing what you wrote and then going through even this year. Wave it and I like an eye toward it like maybe you haven't had for any other story because of Lou the process of it and what you knew when and how far they came. At least six GAQ guys. Or team. Under that market if it's worth all. You or your life is it in they want. The next year. They gave. And they make the plan out policy and all of these people there and it was ridiculous. Skirt appear that really adds. And it. Is good at it. Newton well OK let's go back this go back to when you guys first remembered. Having the idea the story and then once you have the idea this story. The execution the story and then once you have the execution this story. The the the idea. Q how the proclamation that you did on the cover and not either one of you can go first I don't know. And which one if you had the idea I don't know which one of view it showed us that went to the other one says hey how about this. How to how to unfold. Finally take because it really did start with and you know it and Stewart drove the entire cobbers. Kind of go back to victims should. The motive here is it remembered being what it is they talk about in the it's worth a long period. And the truth are. You're really bad. I agree of these. Really Smart guys. We really saw in that. Area you yeah. And it acts couldn't get it we did this story. Really in play here. We agreed to give it an accident that access. Their. Equity sitting in. I'm there for a meeting for their first overall. Update almost ever. In baseball. Or sports period think. There. As crystal is bad. So is so you have this great story and yeah and Alice I know what it's like you would you have a good story you feel like I'll you don't you have the access of the story. It this is today this this play this up as much as possible also Chris from your perspective. When Ben comes back and does the story. And now you're talking a boat being cover worthy how does that unfold. Yeah I. First off. I think it I'm very partial court process story. An act stories as long as you take advantage of that act I mean access doesn't necessarily. Ensures great story and it took advantage of its access and the way that like a lot of art great story to yours that happened remembered poverty it is story on. The red sox' way in. Once it was September colonial. And they went on to have won these guys you know what the F collapsed. But that we're very much in line with earlier Red Sox. Pretty. Big this story came in and it was that this was your city. Perfect expansion of the act that that was given to it gave us a real window. In two I prof eight profit you know it's that process is something typically associate with the states and the sixers now it almost feels like it's been trademarked right. But this was a process before that process. And I just learned so much on the story and other types of stories that we've got bad you fake. People need to read this and how do we get people to read this and appreciated. NBA playoffs. It is. It goes on to a sixth. Game. Out. In all likelihood would have been a cover that particular week but because both of those series and that early we have a little hole in our in our schedule. That enabled us to find a different story now. Reading it in any story. And so there's this great story that com. You're. Probably justified it gets outraged at some of the 206208. Losses the previous seasons. On the copper. And just say hey we have an inside look at that before. You know is there something we can say and that's when I called and and where this all the if this leading. Says we believe in this plant people lead in this organization's ability execute. And and belt with a great deal action. Why. Given days old. We've seen a number of teens be able to transform themselves in a relatively short period if Smart people in payment plan. So the rays they've been very slippery. We receive it. Calico. Cats in 2011. In the pages of the magazine has said. And duplicate it will serves he was. Actually ultimately. Happen at the big difference there as we never put commerce have been garner the attention that this is garbage and it's it was a different story than story we're talking about yourself. Ben and I spoke on the phone and I ask for a topic and then when the world's. And I think and knew the answer he he. Is enough areas and when the World Series within five years. Here are the warriors as the cheers as the network. And maybe you can jump in here and talk about how wild. Not saying we're gonna win it in 2070. Reference only seventeen that your story. Is that they've essentially nobody cared to believe and IE eight gates are under but I gave it good or eat as long as they're repetitive that you seventy. Hear that at. It came up my interview with them. Clearly it was a year those in their mind that their target date he took a step back and look at the nucleus it started bill. Miles per day that was not the big leagues yet but you prospect. Get into that seventy is beat 83 days and it's Brian Jordan's bring it could go either Oregon or. They're gonna be right smack the traditional crime right now 27 point eight. Well I'm in Canada where we had no idea needed to be after the dozens and dozens of boots they didn't make between now. That we knew that the process in place engage. Well you know so I'm curious are you you. You pinpoint the year in 2017. And then and then you say okay we wanna draw attention this we wanna put it on the headline. And then you come the conclusion was that okay we're gonna do it. We're gonna say they're gonna win the World Series shifts in 2017. My first. But first question is is it any sheepish nest. From your guys' perspective. About doing that because it wants to pick from like you had guys pointed out is that from where they word that's a pretty bold jump. And the other part about it when it did come out and when you did tell the Astros you're gonna do this did they go like. You have to or whether like yes yeah that's that's awesome. It. Well the second part Eric. I think they are not real OK they are angry about it. Furcal they had no idea they're gonna get it over either get guys like a couple of days poured it out is that it. And you know I think eight. What do you think. We've got it deep library basically people there get a view and that it's incredibly. Public life. And for so for you Chris was there when you make that decision was it just okay you know we're going there and we're not looking back. Or was there are still the X he was an alternative even for that Astros cover at all. Then there was no real trepidation at all honestly I didn't think I thought it was kind of button prediction. As opposed to something that need to be taken over seriously though you know are you people can't take it very serious. I do it in all likelihood. He mocked. You know I had. It's the body clock war. I have an enjoyable experience and demonstrates its way back my very. With powers managing editor. An NBA preview in 2012. Like Howard you. This is going to be hot peppers that lakers now is. We actually someone who it was odd but not necessarily enough. Important and what's yes we wanted to do something on it if that was recovered but we want it to be kind of rooted in its ability black belt. Strongly that gave them my conversations with bad. And other people who. You know our baseball stuff are editors like MSN. We think that this plan has a shot of working. There was pretty widespread conviction that. I think most people I spoke to felt stops traffic and what this place. But probably it was made but the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. Well in in MB in that I got to ask you about the actual evolution of the Astros in the second by Chris who I would imagine this is this is. And for your job or part of your job this is the thing that makes you get up in the morning with a smile on your face when you have a cover. That is remembered for years and years and years and three years from after you do the cover you do and a podcast about it but those those are the ones. But I would imagine say OK you know. We made that like you said fund but also the memorable cover other are just that must be so gratifying. Recovers. Maybe the most enjoyable part of the job. They are something that they get talked about there's something that are really kind of support the recovers occupy very unique. It's basic sports conversation even now as we transition. Keynote tour board. People still talk about the Roberts. You know obviously you're happy when people talk about this conference post covered just got flat out wrong. Yeah but oh so so after after this comes out. Bomb it. You know though aren't going back to money ball money ball and you know this isn't this is an apples to apples but. That after the money ball thing everyone wanted dig in on their sides every one wanted it was a black and white issue it was scout first as analytic. This comes out and makes it seem like the Astros really have their stuff together. They figured out there's a reason like you guys have said that they did this is a plausible thing they could actually win the World Series in 2017. Ben did you sense that did there was some of that money ball type reaction toward the Astros after the story came out. Yeah I'm surprised by the anger at this cover was greeted I guess I realize. It's stuff people rumor about what the Astros are doing specifically. Re gay. Bigger deserves. Act as a sports franchise Q do your best to try to win every year. Ever C that's gate that was simply need not try to do that at least in the short term but you talk about money ball really. Asked me. Was yes these guys. There's some of those really that lives. In any industry particularly say my who is their heads stats guys get. Yeah. They're brilliant. Wasn't just about that it was he doesn't identify inefficiencies and Obi did things like that these are taking every possible source. Every possible and it's been. Observation that scabs who had been. Those guys that it is. But maybe think that they had. Roll those so Ben so looking back. As it unfolded. And we look at the team they are now you know a skeptic or cynic would say. Well all right 2013. Doesn't really hasn't really been a fruitful draft for the 2014 hasn't been fruitful draft for them 2015. They got bright mean. But he's the second pick in the draft they had all these high pick out to do is there. You know it and down the line. So from your perspective having the unique perspective that you do you look at the team they have now and you look at what was transpiring men. Tell me why we can cut through some of that stuff which on the surface it might he. That well you know it's just like it's like when they didn't hop highlight that the starting pitchers a money ball you're. You unit you know highlighting the right things tell me if things when you look at this team that makes it so unique Pitt and their success a unique. I think decisions exist in a vacuum. It is pediatrics and public relations department. Did have a bio Barea prepared and made that day as they did for a half dozen other players good eight iron about state and might see me now. Hey I used to get in the third shortstop. Allowed that you trap that other than it that you would take the load slot value that is the age dead also. Hey that's absolutely they did not pray god does tackle and LT they're George Greer. That's at eight. Let's make the decision to kick. It was not obvious to anybody. Well doubts tackles and any. Law that is an extra day here. Today no idea. That it's on those sites but there. See you got that as he did they did not get her to have any connection Sprague yes they certainly blew. The draft pick mark over this Brian that's. Fish can't stay there day. That was the guy that worked in. The bills I'd appreciate it oh game that date the gently that the tech issues. I. There and with the compensation. Not getting ready getting X Alex rate and yeah report a few days ago. They think he'd been the way kids evidence that at the World Series. Hey we're gonna make every decision right they know they're not they're basically looking to make it slightly more per. Decision in the competition and I think particularly there where they are. Is that. Is so it is so Chris going back to the headlines. I remember. The Boston Herald had a great headline 2011. That the 2011 team that's feisty we're talking about. Greatest team maverick a Guinness returning the greatest team ever. At that and then they blew it they blew it at the end of the year in and I've talked to elect but in some of my friends who work there I used to work there. And when they may have that his doric epic collapse they exodus you know something like came out worst he maverick or something so. So you have this outline. You've got to have something ready go like you know it is not you've you build a student much much much more than I do. I've I guess from my core of the world please please do hoping along like we told you so or. Is it is that a at least admit that's a possibility that you can play off. We have some headlines. That's a and it is it to come to us we prepare the let's I would expect you say nothing else but I just want to XP might came up well. 2011 team up. Really call them the greatest team member that was right after the Gonzales and it was yet so no it was it was at the end of spring train. Inning and you know was there reloaded. And they did it with the greatest team ever and in mother got Og I work with now to on the mossy he was actually the one that went to them in that day we should do this. They did it. But wow what a missed opportunity get the end the year end and it all right and and I think that it is always that sort of sheep richness and you know this. Better than anyone army unit you're balancing a lot of different things. An and to be Aussie to go off the track a little bit but the Harold. Isn't that tabloid that the New York tabloids have been in the Terrell to have as beat Harold B has become something a little bit different. But I love that I just love the good headlines I love and you said it before. I love the entertaining headlines that we remember and and that's what we're talking about here so thank you for that. Yeah well you know and what and thanks me for it and that he's most grateful for this day that the fact we didn't put a question popped up. Which is one of the honestly it's and we do it and I just think if you're gonna put a question mark that you obligation. You'd probably see that headline the with the. That's a great point. Look guys I really appreciated is it was a lot of fun and and you guys do great great work I in baton awesome story awesome work you've continued yachts America. Chris great job in and is it really a pleasure to get a chance to talk to you guys. Okay thanks thanks guys.