Just when we thought José Altuve, the Houston Astros second baseman, couldn’t be any cooler, he goes and does this.
Watch the entire at-bat all the way through his brief field interview, and you’ll see why it’s easy to love this small player’s big moment in the game that sent his team to the World Series.
We’re cheering on Altuve for these five reasons and more.
1. How naturally José Altuve talked about God
Mixing faith and sports on camera is never easy. But on this occasion, José struck just the right tone.
It wasn’t a weird shoutout to the “man upstairs.” Nor was it long, pious, or overly emotional. Altuve gave a quick thanks to God, almost like he was mentioning a good friend. He allowed the viewers to see his human side while still celebrating the ending to a great baseball game.
2. How quickly he pointed to his teammates
Again, Altuve’s recognition of his team felt instinctive and genuine, not forced or rehearsed. José had just hit a series-clenching, walk-off home run to send the Astros to the World Series. Perhaps the most dramatic hit of his career. And he still helped the watching world feel like it was about more than just him.
“We won the game,” Altuve said, “not because I hit a homer. Yuli [Gurriel] hit a 3-run homer. Michael Brantley made a really good [defensive] play. Springer just walked, and put some pressure on them … We are working as a team and don’t rely on one player … and I’m really happy for everybody right now.”
So refreshing. José Altuve displayed crazy class and poise at a time when all eyes were on him.
3. How respectfully Altuve treated his opponent
We’ve all seen coaches and players tip a cap to an opponent they’ve just vanquished. I always appreciate it, but I also wonder if it’s sincere. Altuve’s comments about Aroldis Chapman, the New York Yankees pitcher he’d just faced, felt sincere.
“Chapman is, for me, one of the best closers I ever faced,” José said. “And he throws 100 mph, so I wanted to be on time for the fastball … and it just happened.”
As much as the moment stings for Chapman, he must have been honored by Altuve’s kind words about the serious challenge of his pitching abilities.
4. How Altuve’s hit made Aroldis Chapman smile
Speaking of Chapman, Yankees fans have criticized their pitcher for the smile on his face while Altuve rounded the bases. And I understand their pain. I really do.
My Rangers were one strike away from a World Series championship in 2011, until David Freese broke our hearts.
But as I watched Chapman Sunday night, having just given up the home run that ended his team’s season, I saw something different in that smile. What I saw was one great ball player enjoying another great ball player’s accomplishment.
When asked later why he smiled, Chapman simply said, “I just couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe it.”
An unbelievable moment for two kids playing a sport they love and having fun together doing it. “Game recognize game” on display in real time for all to see. Baseball fans everywhere loved everything about it.
By the way, José and Aroldis didn’t learn this in the big leagues. They didn’t rehearse it before the game. And they surely didn’t decide it while José rounded second.
The coaches and parents in Little League are the first to teach camaraderie, attitude, and friendly competition. “Relax. Have fun. And enjoy every great baseball play, the ones from your teammates and your opponents.” These major leaguers learned it decades ago and teach it to their teammates today.
Which is precisely why these two ball players feel less pressure and have such self-confidence playing a sport where failure is inevitable.
5. How sincerely Altuve honored his wife
Maybe the most charming part of the interview was José talking about his wife.
Replays show him clutching his jersey buttons and waving no to his teammates awaiting at home plate. When asked why he didn’t want them ripping his jersey off in the celebration, José laughed and responded, “I’m too shy. But last time they did that, I got in trouble with my wife.”
And just like that, the baseball hero transformed into a simple husband thinking about loving his wife. So funny and so heartwarming.
So we loved José Altuve’s big moment.
Much has been made of his diminutive size over the years. A player born in Venezuela. Once turned away from a tryout for being too small, Altuve now stands tall. He is a six-time All-Star, a three-time batting champion, a World Series champion, and 2017 MVP. And now the 2019 ALCS MVP.
Humble teammate. Loving husband.
Bien hecho, José Altuve. Well done.
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