The Astros’ shade continues. Many thought Houston had dodged a bullet when the league announced it would play the 2020 MLB season without fans. But even without spectators to heckle them, the disgraced Astros are still getting it from all angles, and rightfully so after their cheating scandal was exposed to the masses this offseason.
We saw Dodgers hothead Joe Kelly unleash his own brand of vigilante justice with Tuesday’s taunting of Carlos Correa. While MLB didn’t take kindly to Kelly’s antagonizing (they threw the book at him with an eight-game suspension), most of the league had his back including Mike Clevinger and Mets starter Marcus Stroman. Antipathy for the Astros seems universal, though no team has a bigger bone to pick than the Dodgers, the aggrieved party in Houston’s tainted World Series triumph in 2017. Even their broadcasters are piling on, as we saw Wednesday with Orel Hershiser’s jab at Jose Altuve following a fifth-inning strikeout.
Public opinion of the once-beloved Altuve has changed dramatically in the wake of Houston’s sign-stealing scandal, a controversy that resulted in multiple firings (manager A.J. Hinch and GM Jeff Luhnow both got the boot), forfeited draft picks and a hefty $5 million fine. In exchange for their compliance, players were granted immunity throughout the league’s investigation.
While other Astros seemed contrite, Altuve’s tepid apology rang hollow as many felt the former MVP still had some explaining to do for his involvement in Houston’s nefarious sign-stealing scheme. Altuve sure seemed to be hiding something (a buzzer perhaps?) after his walk-off blast to beat the Yankees in the 2019 ALCS, clutching his jersey for dear life as teammates mobbed him at home plate. Teammate Carlos Correa later claimed Altuve was trying to keep an embarrassing chest tattoo on the down-low, which is the MLB equivalent of saying the dog ate my homework.
Altuve has gotten off to an ugly start, hitting an anemic .174 with eight strikeouts through 23 at-bats. Everyone is entitled to the occasional dry spell, but if Altuve’s struggles persist, you can bet Hershiser and others will have plenty to say about it.