Culture / Sporting Life

Classless Yankees Fans Doubting Jose Altuve’s Greatness and MVP Worth Can Shut Up Now

One of the Most Clutch Hitters in Baseball Delivers Another Lesson Amid the New York Hate

BY // 05.07.21

Crass, hate-spewing Yankees fans — and their many enablers — will tell you that the vile they hit Jose Altuve and the Houston Astros with is all about delivering baseball justice. Of trying to punish players who went unpunished for cheating. They’ll insist it is just some long overdue retribution for the Astros’ electronic sign stealing scandal.

Of course, none of them will mention that Yankees fans poured beer on Astros manager A.J. Hinch’s family during the 2017 American League Championship Series — years before the sign stealing came to light. And screamed hateful, profane things at Astro players’ wives and girlfriends during that same highly-charged series. Years before anyone in the public knew about the trash can, the video monitor or any such tunnel shenanigans.

So what was the excuse then? What was the justification for targeting an Astros manager and players’ families back in 2017?

There was not one. Just like there is no excuse for chanting “Fuck Altuve! Fuck Altuve!” in mass in 2021, chanting it so loud that it cannot help but be picked up by every TV or radio microphone in Yankee Stadium.

Yankees fans were classless in 2017. And they’re classless now. You can spare the Dr. Phil routine. It’s not any more complicated than that.

Trying to make holding up “I’m Shrimpy and I’m Trash” and “Pin the Ball on the Altuve!” signs into some sort of noble act of karmic baseball justice is a joke. And if the fans who happened to be doing it in this classless of a manner were in a non center of the media universe city such as Kansas City or Cleveland, they’d be called on it. Instead, the boorish brats largely get celebrated.

Which had to make the moment Jose Altuve has in the eighth inning on Thursday afternoon in a sun-splashed, but no more enlightened, Yankee Stadium even sweeter for the man who remains the heart and soul of Houston baseball. When Altuve reaches up to belt a Chad Green fastball into those stands of mindless hate, he does not just deliver arguably the most priceless regular season win of this entire Astros run. He also delivers a near fatal blow to the false narratives the worst of the Yankees fans cling to like a former Bachelorette clings to fame.

Yankees fans can shut up about Jose Altuve not being an MVP worthy player now. They can hush about any notion that Altuve is simply the beneficiary of a cheating scheme.

Jose Altuve earned his place in baseball the hard way. And he’s still a centerstage player, still one of the most clutch hitters of this entire era.

The reminder is that baseball screaming into the stands — and the win stolen away from the Bronx bozos brigade watching from their seats.

No one helped Jose Altuve take Chad Green deep on Thursday. Just like there was no buzzer that can erase one of the bigger postseason home runs in baseball history — the walkoff Altuve hit off Yankees super closer Aroldis Chapman to send the Astros rocketing into the 2019 World Series. Major League Baseball found no evidence to support the wild buzzer conspiracy theories. Even if New York writers still routinely bring it up as something near fact.

If Donald Trump supported a theory like this (and maybe he does, he used to be a feted and fawned over Yankee Stadium regular), it’d be as mocked as the idea of injecting bleach into people to fight COVID-19. But because it’s repeated by New York writers, Altuve and the Astros still have to hear about it years later.

There is no magic aid. Altuve is one of the more clutch hitters of his generation. Sorry, if that truth stings. You do not have to feel sorry for Jose Altuve. You do not have to like Jose Altuve. You can hate Jose Altuve. But you sure cannot dismiss him.

Not when he keeps producing moments like this.

There is no magic aid. Altuve is one of the more clutch hitters of his generation. Sorry, if that truth stings.

Eighth inning. Astros down 3-2, five outs away from being swept right out of the Bronx Zoo as a losing baseball team. Altuve down to his last strike on a 3-2 count. Goodbye baseball!

“And he hit a pitch that was over his head,” Astros manager Dusty Baker says. “Man, that was huge. It quieted the fans for at least a little while anyway.”

It should quiet everyone forever who doubts Jose Altuve’s greatness — and his MVP bonafides. But, of course, it won’t. Yankees fans will keep whining about the Astros “stealing” things from them. They’ll keep hating, keep screaming out “Fuck Your Birthday!” to a baseball player when they can. And tell themselves it is completely justified.

Of course, the people Altuve cares about most know better. His teammates mob him in the dugout after the home run, remind him that’s why he is a league MVP. No matter how much Aaron Judge’s army wants to take it away. (Did anyone happen to notice how Judge went 0 for 4 with two more strikeouts while Altuve made this game his?)

“I can’t tell you how happy everybody in the dugout was for Jose,” Baker says. “Because he is one of the best guys that you’ll ever meet in this game.”

Jose Altuve Aaron Judge
Jose Altuve and Aaron Judge are still two of the main players who will decide who wins the American League. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)

No matter how much he’s hated in different parts of America, the almost universal respect and outright love Altuve’s teammates (present and past) have for him has never wavered. Astros shortstop Carlos Correa has vehemently defended Altuve as one of the only Astros who did not take advantage of the sign stealing with a passion seldom seen outside of a TV courtroom drama.

But maybe it’s all right that Jose Altuve and his gifts are largely just Houston’s now. For a while, Altuve approached countrywide admiration. He even got a few national TV commercials. Then, he found himself cast as the face of the sign stealing scandal, forever open to ridicule by those who believe that chanting the F word is some sort of fine art.

Yankees fans were classless in 2017. And they’re classless now. You can spare the Dr. Phil routine. It’s not any more complicated than that.

“You don’t like to get booed by anybody, but that’s part of the game,” Altuve says in his Zoom interview after Astros 7, Yankees 4. “Like I said, I was just going out there trying to do my best to help my team win.”

Now, the joy Jose Altuve can still bring to the game is only felt by Houstonians. There are worst fates.

Like being part of a classless army of hate-spewing dolts. And not even realizing it.

Yankees fans showed their true stripes in 2017 when they dumped that beer on a manager’s family — and screamed vile things at wives and girlfriends. Nothing’s changed since. Don’t be fooled by some extra noise.

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