Jose Altuve gives Jim Crane's Astros plenty of super powers.
NEW YORK — Jose Altuve doesn’t get booed in many ballparks. The should-be American League MVP is one of the most lovable players in baseball. If you don’t like Altuve, you may as well not like Apple Pie or fireworks. You may as well spit at Snoopy.
Nobody hates Altuve.
Except for New York Yankee fans. As the American League Championship Series shifted to the Bronx, the venom noticeably picked up too. As Altuve stepped to the plate in the top of the first inning, the New York boos and jeers reached a fever pitch. No other Houston Astros player received quite this much hate. And when Altuve struck out to end the first inning, the cheers reached Times Square at midnight in New Year’s Eve levels.
Yankees fans are largely just bitter. They’re enraged that Aaron Judge could be blocked from the MVP Award by Atluve (rightly so). They’re irate that Altuve’s been beating them every which way in this series — using his bat like a sorcerer’s stick. They’re just mad at life in general. (You try getting smushed in the D Train on the way to every home game.)
And Altuve is the main target of their frustration.
It’s not quite as bad as Philadelphia fans booing Santa Claus, but it’s pretty close. Altuve is the self-made superstar who lets even the shortest kids dream giant dreams. There is no better feel-good story in baseball. And no better player for that matter.
It wasn’t all spite and rancor at the “new” Yankees Stadium (as someone who covered a ton of playoff games during the Joe Torre era at the real Yankee Stadium, this place will never be that) despite New York’s season-saving 8-1 win.
The Astros’ traveling party enjoyed some fun moments.. before the game. Astros owner Jim Crane brought his 3-year-old son, James Robert Crane II, on the field for a few minutes during batting practice and Astros coach Alex Cora played catch with the toddler.
In fact, the Astros seemed largely at home on New York’s biggest stage. Of course, then the game started and Yankees third baseman Todd Frazier, a former Little League World Series hero, hit a three-run bomb to put Houston in an early hole. When Judge homered and the Astros deficit swelled to 8-0, all the large Yankee fans were already singing.
Judge enjoyed his best game of the entire playoffs, living up to super-hyped “All-Rise” persona New Yorkers demand from him. He made the catch in right field that he couldn’t in Game 2 — and then some, tumbling over and hitting the wall to snag a Yuli Gurriel blast. It was some breathtaking athleticism from a 6-foot-7 man.
Then, he put the punctuation point on the blowout, and truly started the party, with that three-run homer that just cleared the wall. Frazier threw his arms into the air and went crazy on that one, a teammate almost reduced to a fan.
The Full Judge had finally showed.
That just meant Altuve got booed even more every at-bat. What’s wrong with these people? It’s Altuve. What’s next? Throwing a pie at Miss America?