Culture / Sporting Life

Yordan Alvarez’s Teammates Show How Much They Love Him With Touching Moment During His $115 Million Astros Contract Day

The Closest Team In Baseball?

BY // 06.06.22

Yordan Alvarez sits at the front of the room on the raised dais, with Houston Astros general  manager James Click on his right, microphones at the ready for both men. Click is there to finally officially talk about Alvarez’s six year, $115 million contract extension, the one that should keep one of baseball’s most underrated young superstars in Houston through the 2028 season.

But what’s happening in the back of the room screams out more than anything Click or even Yordan himself could ever say. And the analytical Click is pretty expressive on this day, dropping in a reference to the classic baseball movie Bull Durham with a Crash Davis line, noting that one of the many things Alvarez leads the Astros in is “balls that travel so far they need a stewardess.”

Still, nothing can say as much as what happens in the back of the room. For as the press conference gets going, more and more of Alvarez’s Astros teammates start filling the back of the room. By the time, things are really going, Jose Altuve, Jake Odorizzi, Martin Maldonado, Aledmys Diaz, Yuli Gurriel, Michael Brantley and Kyle Tucker are all in the back of the room for Alvarez’s moment.

There are a lot of bold baseball names of their own among this group — a former American League MVP in Altuve, a Cuban icon in Gurriel, arguably the most respected veteran hitter in baseball in Brantley, a fellow young rising superstar in Tucker and more. Yet, all of these Astros crouch down and take a seat, some on a simple riser, so they don’t block the TV cameras.

They just want to be there for their teammate’s moment because Yordan Alvarez is Yordan Alvarez.

“Very important because it’s a big day for him,” Altuve says when I ask him how important it was for the other Astros players to be there. “He’s happy. So we just decided to go there and support him. We all know how hard he worked to get to this point.

“The whole team is really happy for him.”

“I think he’s the best hitter I’ve ever played with. It’s amazing what he can do.” — Jose Altuve on Yordan Alvarez

Alvarez admits he is surprised and touched by the gesture. This back-of-the-room procession is just another sign of how close this particular Houston Astros team is. And if you don’t think a bunch of players showing up at a press conference to support their teammate is a big deal, you don’t know baseball players.

These guys are creatures of routine probably more than athletes in any other sport. Yet there they are on this Monday, disrupting their pregame routines to show up for Yordan. It does not get much more symbolic — and real — than that.

“Yeah, I feel very happy because this wasn’t something I expected to see — all of them there,” Alvarez says when asked about his teammates’ appearance at his press conference. “But also really grateful from the day one, from the day I was called up, they gave me an opportunity and trusted in me.

“It felt I was in the Majors for a while because of the trust they put in me.”

The Incredible Journey of Yordan Alvarez

Alvarez has used the trust and belief of his Astros teammates as fuel. This 24-year-old imposing man with shoulders that seem built for carrying a lineup risked his life in many ways to leave Cuba and get to the United States and chase his baseball dreams. A complex story that he hints at again on this day. But he quickly found a home in this Astros clubhouse.

The old saying in sports is that game recognizes game. But hard workers also recognize other crazy hard workers. And that’s how Yordan Alvarez quickly gained quick and near universal respect entering a clubhouse filled with guys who won the 2017 World Series at the time of his 2019 call-up.

“He’s good obviously,” Altuve tells PaperCity. “He’s a natural hitter. But on top of that he works hard every day. He goes to the cage and works with a purpose. He has an approach every day to get to home plate (to score).

“He doesn’t give at-bats away. He cares every day about winning. About being better.”

Houston Astros received their AL Championship rings before they faced the Los Angles Angels of Anaheim, Monday,
When Yordan Alvarez swings, powerful things — and memorable home runs — tend to happen. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)

Already one of the best hitters in baseball — even if MLB’s marketing department doesn’t always seem to recognize that — Alvarez is tied for second in the entire Major Leagues with 16 home runs, trailing only Aaron Judge, who seems to be on a super human stretch. He leads all of baseball in hard hit percentage at 65.2 percent, besting Judge’s 61.5 percent.

And the crazy thing he is, he’s still only just getting started in many ways.

“A cornerstone player,” is how Click quickly describes Alvarez. “It allows us to build the roster around him, build a lineup around him. And that sort of security, both for him and for us as we continue to try to compete for World Series championships is huge.

“Knowing that we’re going to have a player of that caliber anchoring our lineup for the foreseeable future.”

Altuve puts it even more simply. “I think he’s the best hitter I’ve ever played with,” the former MVP and still heart and soul of these Astros says. “It’s amazing what he can do.”

What happens in the back of the room says even more than Altuve’s incredible proclamation. Great players aren’t always loved by their teammates. See Michael Jordan, Barry Bonds, Kobe Bryant and on and on. . . But Yordan Alvarez seems to be almost universally adored.

And that screams plenty about both him and these Astros.

Hilton Anatole
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