They booed them during batting practice, they booed them during the announcement of the starting lineup, the booed them at every at bat, basically they just let them know how much the Houston Astros are despised amongst baseball fans.
As Jose Altuve was announced over the big speaker for his first at bat on Monday versus the Detroit Tigers, he was showered with boos, and hecklers reminding him and his teammates that they’re cheaters. Altuve should get used to this treatment because it’s only going to get worse as the season goes on. The Astros home games will be less of an advantage and more of a reprieve from the showers of hate that will be rained down on them the rest of this season.
Altuve claimed that the jeers didn’t bother him, and that he didn’t hear the fans booing and taunts. Altuve says that he and his teammates just heard a lot of noise.
''We were focused on playing baseball. We know that we need to go on the field and get ready and prepared for the coming season,'' he added. ''That's what we're thinking about right now.''
Altuve did receive one big cheer when he struck out, so he wasn’t booed the whole time. This is a long fall for Altuve, who was once seen as one of the most popular players in the league. But as he said, the Astros are insistent that the games are not about the fans, and that it’s about baseball. That will still remain to be seen.
Along with Altuve, Alex Bergam, Carlo Corrrera, and Yuli Gurriel all played in their first game of the season. The crowd made up of mostly Tigers fans booed them during batting practice, they booed them during the announcement of the starting lineup, the booed them at every at bat, basically they just let them know how much the Houston Astros are despised amongst baseball fans.
The Astros did a fairly good job blocking out all the noise, and pounded the Tiger 11-1 in a meaningless game in February. They probably did blockout all of the crowd noise, but it’s one thing doing it in front of less than 5000 people, it’s going to be a different story when they start playing on the road in big league ballparks.
Tiger Manager Ron Gardenhire didn’t really take any shots and the Astros, but he showed very little sympathy.
''There's frustration in the fan base and they have a right to voice their opinion. ... The Astros are going to have to wear it for a while, and eventually it'll move on. But fans are going to voice their opinions and they have a right to. Those guys understand it over there, and they're going about their business of getting ready for the season.'
In the first inning Altuve was grazed by Tigers pitcher Matthew Boyd, but both Boyd and the Astros manager Dusty Baker say it wasn’t intentional.
''He was hit in the foot. That ain't nothing, you know what I mean?'' Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker said Monday after an 11-1 win over Detroit at half-empty Joker Marchant Stadium. ''It wasn't intentional.''
''It's spring training. Honestly, let's let it die. What's done is done. I know how everybody feels, but no one is going to change anything now,'' Boyd said. ''The punishment's been handed out, the line's been drawn in the sand. Hopefully that shuts it down, and it's just best for everyone to move forward. They've got to live with it. That's more than enough punishment.''
I’m sure it wasn’t intentional, nobody is sending a message during spring training. But, I wonder if Altuve and company will get the Alex Rodriguez treatment as we get into the regular season.
Obviously the Astros have to expect to be enemy number one when they will be visiting opponents ballparks, and it kind of reminds me of Rodriguez back in 2013 after appealing his PED suspension. A-Rod was booed everywhere he went, and things finally reached a boiling point at Fenway Park on Sunday Night Baseball.
Boston Red Sox pitcher Ryan Dempster threw inside and behind Rodriguez before finally tagging him. It wasn’t an unexpected turn of events, and Dempster showed no remorse, and had no issue delivering some old school baseball justice. A part of me has to wonder if the Astros will get the same treatment at some point this season, because their colleagues around the league are pissed.
Let’s just say what it is. The Astros are going to feel no love outside of Houston, and like it or not, their championship will always be tainted. Whether or not the team and the fan base care doesn’t really matter, it's just the facts. The Astros players are going to have to take what’s coming.
At some point fans and opposing players will move on, but it’s a very compelling story, and it’s going to be very fun to watch Astros road games, at least for the beginning part of the season.