Yankees’ Aaron Judge appears to mock Jose Altuve with jersey tug during home run trot vs. Astros

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Saturday night at Minute Maid Park, the New York Yankees and Houston Astros are continuing their three-game series wrapping up the first half of the season (GameTracker). The Yankees won Friday’s series-opener thanks to spot starter Nestor Cortes Jr.

There is no love lost between these two clubs, who have been frequent postseason opponents in recent years. The Astros eliminated the Yankees in the 2015 AL Wild Card Game, the 2017 ALCS, and the 2019 ALCS. Yankees fans booed Houston relentlessly in response to the sign-stealing scandal when they visited New York in May.

Aaron Judge opened the scoring Saturday with a solo home run to the train tracks in left field in the third innings, and as he rounded third base, and he made a tugging motion with his jersey that sure looked to be a reference to Jose Altuve not wanting to remove his jersey following his ALCS walk-off home run in 2019. Here’s Judge rounding third:

Yeah, it’s hard to look at that as anything other than Judge mocking Altuve and the Astros. Fair or not, there has been speculation the Astros used buzzers to steal signs in 2019, and Altuve not wanting to remove his jersey has been cited as evidence. He has denied it vehemently, say he was “too shy” to remove his jersey.

Many players around the league were outspoken after news of the sign-stealing scandal broke, including Judge. He said, “I just don’t think (their 2017 World Series title) holds any value. You cheated and you didn’t earn it,” when asked about it last spring training.

In MLB’s report detailing its investigation into the sign-stealing scandal, commissioner Rob Manfred said the league uncovered no evidence the Astros stole signs illegally in 2019. In the court of public opinion, Houston gets no benefit of the doubt, and clearly Judge (and surely other players) still feel wronged. Hard to blame them.

Judge finished second behind Altuve in the 2017 MVP voting. Saturday’s home run was his 21st this season. Judge took a .286/.377/.526 batting line into the game and was voted into the All-Star Game as a starting outfielder. Altuve and all other Astros pulled out of the All-Star Game.

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