HOUSTON — The boos and hisses, the anger and loathing, the negative emotions that surround Jose Altuve whenever he steps foot on a baseball field are left behind when he comes home to Houston. In this proud and protective city, Altuve is not just a hero; he is THE hero. He is the face of the Houston Astros, the reigning World Series champions who are determined to become the first back-to-back champions in the 21st century.
As Altuve steps up to the plate in the bottom of the first inning in the sixth game of the American League Championship Series against the Texas Rangers, the sold-out crowd at Minute Maid Park will rise and celebrate him. And they have every reason to do so. The Astros are one win away from the World Series, and Altuve’s latest performance, a go-ahead three-run home run in the ninth inning of Game 5, is just another chapter in his already illustrious career.
However, Altuve’s legacy is not only defined by his on-field accomplishments. In Houston, he is an untouchable figure, adored and revered by the city. But outside of Houston, particularly among the general public, he cannot escape the stigma of the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal in 2017. Altuve is still haunted by accusations of his involvement, even though his teammates claim he declined to participate in the scheme.
MLB opted not to punish the players for their involvement in the sign-stealing scandal, which Commissioner Rob Manfred himself described as “player-driven” in his report. This decision has only fueled the criticism and skepticism that Altuve faces from fans and the media alike. The stain on Altuve’s reputation remains indelible, with the public perception of his involvement in the cheating scandal overshadowing his remarkable talent and achievements.
Altuve himself prefers to focus on the present and the opportunity to win another championship with his team. “I just don’t really have a lot to say about it,” Altuve told ESPN. “I play for these guys, for my team. We have a big opportunity to win again. I want to put all my energy towards winning for my team, versus getting distracted by paying attention to other things.”
Altuve’s ability to channel negative energy into positive performance is evident every October. He consistently rises to the occasion and showcases his unmatched skills when it matters most. In this year’s playoffs, Altuve has already hit three home runs, all contributing to key victories for the Astros. Among his peers, he leads in almost every counting statistic, further solidifying his status as one of the greatest players in the game.
Every time Altuve excels on the field, it only serves as a reminder of the Astros’ past. The more successful he is today, the more it stirs up the bitter memories of the sign-stealing scandal. Yet, Altuve remains focused on his team’s goals and refuses to be distracted by the outside noise. His ability to rise above the controversy solidifies his status as a true champion.
Altuve’s impact on the Astros’ success cannot be overstated. The team holds a remarkable 17-0 record in playoff games where Altuve homers. It’s not a mere coincidence; Altuve’s contributions are the driving force behind their victories. Another championship would only solidify the Astros’ place as a true dynasty.
As Altuve continues to excel on the field, he remains a polarizing figure. The cheers and love he receives in Houston juxtapose with the criticism and skepticism he faces everywhere else. But Altuve’s focus is not on public opinion; it’s on winning for his team and building a legacy of success that transcends the controversy that threatens to define him.
The Astros’ journey towards back-to-back championships is not just a testament to their collective talent and determination. It is also a testament to Altuve’s resilience and ability to rise above the noise. While his reputation may be permanently stained in the eyes of some, Altuve continues to prove himself as one of the game’s greatest players, with or without the support of the public.