In the blink of any eye, this grand experiment the Astros have undertaken could be over.
That's the takeaway from Monday's tumult. The Astros front office stands at a precipice.
The only thing Houston can do to ensure they continue this alchemy is win. They have to win. Otherwise, this chance could disappear.
General managers don't get fired easily. Jack Zduriencik in Seattle has survived bad results and scandalous accusations by former employees. Dayton Moore in Kansas City has survived public scorn for years. Ruben Amaro, Jr. and his Analytics House Plant just got a vote of confidence.
The reason those three have stuck around is they have ownership's support.
Right now, so does Jeff Luhnow. Despite the myriad problems of this season, Jim Crane remains publicly in Jeff Luhnow's corner. Bo Porter may have tried to change that and got fired for it.
But, how long will that support continue?
At Monday's press conference to announce the managerial change, the Chronicle writers went after Luhnow. They attempted to hold him accountable and got non-specific answers. They did the job they're supposed to do, but to what end?
Columnists and national writers have long questioned what Luhnow and his team are doing. Monday's move made it easier. If this team made such a poor choice in a manager, how can they be expected to turn the team around?
That's not to say Bo Porter was a bad manager. The prevailing sentiment seems to be that Porter was just a bad fit for Luhnow's methods. The front office and coaching staff never finished each other's sentences or lineups. Over time, they grew apart.
This happens. It happened in Boston during the ill-fated Bobby Valentine experiment. It happened with Trey Hillman in KC. The perfect candidate doesn't always turn out to be the right guy on the field. Let's not forget how many times Joe Torre failed before Steinbrenner gave him another shot.
The difficulty level in Houston gets raised, however, by the unconventional methods. Houston is trying to throw out baseball tradition, but with that, they also throw out the safety net. Everything the FO does is amplified.
Failures speak to the system and the show runners.
That's why Monday sparked what could be the downfall of this front office. Houston can't afford to make mistakes while also not having success on the field.
The Astros could still turn things around. They are smart and capable. They have a plan. They could hire a manager to lead the team renaissance, a new Joe Maddon. They could learn from the mistakes and keep the ship heading to sustained success.
Monday was the flashpoint, the pivotal moment. When we look back at the history of the team in five years, it could be a franchise-defining move or the last act of a folly.