Yuli Gurriel gets rousing ovation from Houston crowd after controversial suspension

Yuli Gurriel received loud cheers from fans during his first at-bat after his suspension for a racial gesture. (Getty Images)

HOUSTON — At least Yuli Gurriel, the most divisive man in baseball the past 24 years hours, knows that the hometown fans have his back.

Gurriel, the Houston Astros‘ first baseman, was suspended five games Saturday by Major League Baseball, but the suspension won’t be served until the start of the next season. It was a controversial decision by MLB after a controversial moment in Friday’s Game 3. That’s when Gurriel homered against Dodgers pitcher Yu Darvish, then was caught on camera in the Astros dugout making a slanted-eye gesture toward Darvish.

In the day since it happened, it’s been one of the most talked about parts of the MLB postseason, with passionate arguments on both sides — both about what Gurriel did and how MLB handled it. But this, there’s no question about. Astros fans gave Gurriel their support. And loudly at that.

Here’s that ovation before his first at-bat of Game 4, in which he hit into a double play in the second inning.

And here’s the ovation he got in pre-game introductions.

Before anybody gets too judgmental one way or another, remember this is more about fandom than it is racism. That’s the nature of sports. Anytime something divisive happens, fans are generally a little more forgiving if it’s someone on their favorite team.

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Mike Oz is the editor of Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!