It was only a matter of time before Altuve fully embraced his new role

Jose Altuve completed the heel turn. Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images.

If you've read my stuff here, or follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you know I'm a pro wrestling fan. Have been all my life and will continue to be. There are terms they use for good guys and bad guys. Good guys are called babyfaces or a face. Bad guys are called heels. Wrestlers who truly enjoy the craft will mostly claim to like playing a heel because your character can get away with more. They're expected to cheat to win. They also get "heat" with the crowd by insulting them and/or attacking/insulting the face they're going up against. See where I'm going with this?

The Astros have finally embraced their heel turn following the sign stealing scandal. Most guys have not really paid much attention to opposing fans booing them. Some have barked back at opposing players/fans/media, most notably Carlos Correa who took it upon himself to defend the club last season after they swept the Twins in the playoffs. That was a rallying cry that nearly brought them back to another World Series appearance. Jose Altuve has been largely silent when it comes to things. Last season was the worst of his career. It only came out before this season that he was dealing with some personal issues that caused his lull in play. This season started bad for him as well. That is, until a fateful trip to the Bronx to play the hated Yankees.

This was the team's first appearance in the Bronx since fans were allowed back into stadiums. They booed, made signs, held trash cans, and wore t-shirts and costumes. On more than one occasion, a "f*** Altuve" chant broke out. Altuve had enough and hit a game winning three-run homer to shut the crowd up. Ever since, his power numbers have been off the charts. He has 18 homers this season, with 11 of those coming in his last 30 games. His career high for a season of 24 is expected to fall this year if he keeps this up.

He's typically known as the soft-spoken, kind-hearted, quiet leader of the team. Altuve fully embraced the heel turn when he not so subtly waved goodbye to the Cleveland crowd after the team swept a four game series this past weekend, and I love it! I wrote about this before the start of last season because I felt the team might as well lean into being the bad guys if opposing fans/players/media were going to keep crapping on them. While some did, it wasn't until Altuve's wave that I was most proud. It's a simple gesture that players have done in the past. But when it comes from a guy like him, it carries a different type of weight. It also has more meaning since the team is leading the AL West by 4.5 games and are only a half game behind the Red Sox for the best record in the AL at the time of this writing.

This team is loaded with talent. While they've struggled in some areas, the one area they need to improve is the bullpen. The offense currently leads all of MLB in run differential at +137. Of the guys with 100 at-bats or more, they have five guys hitting .280 or more, another two guys just under that mark, and four of them are at .300 or more. I'd love to see them keep this same attitude and make another World Series run. Ideally, I'd love for them to win it all. If forced to settle for a World Series appearance, I guess I'd be okay. Then we could all wave goodbye to the haters.

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Here's why the Texans will make the playoffs under Lovie Smith

1. The Houston Texans had a mentally tough practice Saturday. The team has worked a lot in pads and Lovie Smith noted the days starting to build up on them during this practice. The head coach said this is a good practice because it is like the fourth quarter of the games the team will end up playing.

2. Davis Mills threw one of the best passes he has thrown all camp on Saturday. In a red zone drill, he dropped back and whipped a pass between two defenders into the tightest window he has had all camp. Nico Collins hauled in the threaded pass for a score.

3. A few reps later Davis Mills struck again. With traffic from linebackers and defensive backs, he found Chris Conley for a score. It wasn’t as tight of a window as the first one, but Mills snapped it off nonetheless.

4. Pharaoh Brown made something hard look very easy on Saturday. With Mills rolling out and tossing the ball to Brown in the back corner Brown hauled in a one-handed catch and had both feet down. Touchdown. Brown then acted like it was no big deal.

5. Pharaoh Brown has had a wonderful camp. Lovie Smith named him the starting tight end. The thing that really jumped out to me today is he makes his work look easy. He isn’t straining to excel in his opportunities. The good ones always make it look easy and it has looked easy for Brown so far.

6. Rookie linebacker Christian Harris is on the shelf for a few days. He joins fellow rookie Kenyon Green as players who are injured. Max Scharping played left guard with Green down. Wide receiver Phillip Dorset practiced while veteran wideout Chester Rodgers did not.

7. Roy Lopez flashed again today. While Friday was about the rushing attack and Lopez made his presence felt at defensive tackle, he got into the pass rush Saturday. Lopez would have had a bone-crushing sack in a live rep.

8. Ross Blacklock hasn’t been consistent. A statement like that is good and evil. There are some plays where Blacklock looks like he isn’t a factor. I watched one today. A play later he had what would have been a sack on the play. He’s a player to watch in the preseason games closely.

9. Don’t expect to see Derek Stingley in the preseason opener next Saturday. Lovie Smith wouldn’t commit to the rookie cornerback playing in the preseason. Smith did say Stingley is on track to play week one in the regular season.

10. Brevin Jordan has had a nice camp and should be an important piece for the team. Jordan had a bad drop in 7-on-7 drills that he was beating himself up over for a few minutes. That was out of the norm. He’s been used a lot and will be on the field a bit it seems for the Texans.

11. Brevin Jordan also rattled off a few contenders for the quote of the day. He exclaimed he had taken care of himself this offseason and he finally had abs. He also revealed he’s quite the fisherman and once caught a 125-pound tuna. When asked what he did with the tuna Jordan laughed and said “RIP tuna!”

Listen to Cody Stoots weekdays afternoons 3-7pm on his show "The Wheelhouse" live on ESPN 97.5 + 92.5 FM or anytime on demand at the podcast here.

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