Since the hecklers and boo birds can’t go to the stadium, they are taking it to Jose Altuve via social media. And he’s giving them plenty of fodder.
There was the trash can-banging scandal of 2017 which tainted the World Series title. There were the rumors he was wearing a buzzer under his shirt in the 2019 ALCS when he hit a walk off home run to oust the New York Yankees. There was the emotionless apology in spring training. America was ready to hate Jose Altuve this baseball season, and then COVID-19 hit.
The global pandemic did not temper the feelings of baseball fans towards Altuve. Fans were just not allowed to voice their displeasure for the second baseman in person, at the ballpark.
If Altuve thought he caught a reprieve because of this, he is mistaken.
A combination of his play on the field and the fans’ access to social media has allowed the latter to experience joy at the expense of the struggles of the former.
Some will say it is karma. He who cheats to win and is exposed for it will suffer losses when forced to play honestly.
And the losses are piling up.
Thus far Altuve is hitting a paltry .187, with an OPS three hundred points lower than last year. A year ago Altuve hit a career high 31 home runs. He has just three in 17 games this season.
The struggles have followed him to the defensive side of the bat as well, where his .973 fielding percentage is the second lowest of his nine years in the league.
And people have taken notice.
A few days ago Altuve sat alone in the stands, watching a game the Astros would ultimately lose. Twitter blew up with the picture of him wallowing away by himself. If the playoffs started today the Astros would be on the outside looking in. Half the league makes the playoffs.
The woeful play of Jose Altuve and the Houston Astros are connected and it has given baseball fans fuel for the fire, of criticism. As long as the two continue to play poorly, they will continue to hear about it. In a way, we can think of this as baseball justice.