Astros' Dusty Baker on 'F--k Altuve' Chant: Yankees Fans 'Can Say Whatever They Want'

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVMay 5, 2021

ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA - MAY 01: Jose Altuve #27 celebrates with manager Dusty Baker Jr. #12 of the Houston Astros after scoring in the first inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on May 01, 2021 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker said the New York crowd's constant heckling may have played a role in Jose Altuve's hitless performance in Tuesday's 7-3 loss to the Yankees.

"The fans were extremely hard on Altuve tonight," Baker told reporters. "He's exerting a lot of effort, maybe too much effort."

Tuesday marked the Astros' first game in Yankee Stadium with fans since they were punished for their sign-stealing scandal in January 2020. Baker, who's been an MLB player or coach since 1968, was happy the jeers didn't turn into anything more serious.

"At least there wasn't any violence. They can say whatever they want," he said. "It sounded like a packed house tonight even though it wasn't. We expected that reception, so we'll get more of the same tomorrow and the next day."

Altuve, Alex Bregman and Carlos Correa, all three of whom were part of Houston's 2017 championship team that used video to steal signs and then relayed the information to hitters via the use of loud banging noises, were the main focus of the Yankees fans.

(Warning: Video contains NSFW language.)

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Yankees fans start a "F--k Altuve" chant 😳 @BRWalkoff<br><br>(via @BrendanKutyNJ)pic.twitter.com/Fnshy9xkR8

The Astros eliminated the Yanks in the 2017 American League Championship Series before beating the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series to capture the franchise's first title.

Although general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch were both suspended for the 2020 season as a result of the scandal and were ultimately fired by the organization, no players involved in the scheme faced any punishment from MLB.

Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton, who hit a home run in Tuesday's win, was surprised at how hard the fans brought it during the series opener.

"That was intense," Stanton said. "I wouldn't want to be on the other side of that. They brought some heavy."

Manager Aaron Boone added: "The energy that was created, we haven't seen that since 2019, so it was a fun game to be a part of."

The Yankees and Astros, who are both contenders in the AL once again, continue their series Wednesday and Thursday.