The “Astros Hate Tour” that swept the league in 2020 seems to have bled into the 2021 season.
Last year, the Houston franchise became enemy No. 1 in the MLB after they were found guilty of electronically stealing signs during their 2017 World Series-winning season. The news broke right before the dawn of the COVID-19 pandemic, which ultimately bailed the Astros out of an inevitable cascade of boos through the fanless regular season.
On Thursday’s Opening Day, the “Astros Hate Tour” picked up right where it left off.
Traveling to Oakland for their first game of the season, the shamed champions took on the rival Athletics. With Houston’s transgressions still fresh in the minds of opposing MLB fans, the Astros were yet again welcomed with relentless heckling.
Star second baseman Jose Altuve, the centerpiece of that 2017 World Series Team, received the brunt of the Athletics’ boos.
A's fans letting Altuve hear it 👎 pic.twitter.com/3pmef4G9Pe
— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) April 2, 2021
No surprise, Astros getting booed heavily at the Coliseum. Some trash can banging also going on. pic.twitter.com/aO686HuYWL
— Martín Gallegos (@MartinJGallegos) April 2, 2021
Altuve became a major talking point in the scandal investigation after a curious video from Game 6 of the American League Championship Series came to light.
With the score tied at 4-4 in the bottom of the ninth inning against the New York Yankees, the 2017 league MVP was ahead in the count, two balls and one strike against closer Aroldis Chapman. In a situation that would typically indicate an incoming fast ball, Altuve swung at an 84-mile-per-hour slider. With a home-run shot over the center-field wall, the Astros were propelled to the World Series.
As Altuve rounded third on his walk-off trot, he seemed to warn his teammates NOT to tear off his jersey. While it has yet to be confirmed, the suspicion is the second baseman was wearing a buzzer that indicated pitch type under his uniform.
You'll be seeing this a lot.
Jose Altuve signaling to his teammates NOT to rip off his jersey in celebration because it would "allegedly" reveal a buzzer that would go off when triggered by someone on the Astros video team.
Next Level Cheating. pic.twitter.com/ApxOmAgdkz
— Marc Farzetta (@MarcFarzetta) January 16, 2020
What has been confirmed is that the Astros used center-field cameras to zoom in on the opposing catcher’s signals to the pitcher. The feed from that camera was wired to a monitor in the dugout, where players would bang on a trashcan with their bats — once or twice for a curveball or off-speed pitch, zero for a fastball.
The Astros 2017 title has not been vacated and no players have received any punishments.