October 22, 2019

Astros Assistant GM Brandon Taubman's "Offensive And Frightening" Outburst At Three Female Reporters: "I'm So Fucking Glad We Got Osuna!" ... After Astros Claim Incident Was "Fabricated", Four Reporters Confirm Initial Report ... MLB Commissioner Manfred Has Not Uttered A Peep.

And here I was, leaning towards Houston in the World Series ...

Stephanie Apstein, Sports Illustrated, October 21, 2019:
Astros Staffer's Outburst at Female Reporters Illustrates MLB's Forgive-and-Forget Attitude Toward Domestic Violence
After clinching the AL pennant, an Astros staffer shouted "Thank God we got Osuna! I'm so f------ glad we got Osuna!" at a group of female reporters.

Editor's note: Sports Illustrated has released a statement regarding the Astros' response to this story. The Astros initially declined to comment for this piece. After this story was published, the team released a statement in which they did not deny Brandon Taubman's comments, and insisted he was 'supporting the player during a difficult time.' Multiple journalists have corroborated Sports Illustrated's reporting.

More than an hour after José Altuve won the Astros the pennant, the party in the Houston clubhouse still raged. ...

[I]n the center of the room, assistant general manager Brandon Taubman turned to a group of three female reporters, including one wearing a purple domestic-violence awareness bracelet, and yelled, half a dozen times, "Thank God we got Osuna! I'm so f------ glad we got Osuna!"

The outburst was offensive and frightening enough that another Houston staffer apologized. The Astros declined to comment. They also declined to make Taubman available for an interview.

Taubman's timing was odd.

Closer Roberto Osuna had allowed a two-run home run to tie the game in the top of the ninth. He had been, by Baseball Reference’s calculations and any intelligent observer's assessment, the least valuable Astro that night. So why would Taubman choose that moment, to taunt that demographic? It's not hard to figure out.

Osuna likely only pitches for Houston because he allegedly assaulted Alejandra Román Cota, the mother of his then-three-year-old child, in May 2018, as a member of the Blue Jays. Prosecutors dropped the charges after Cota returned to Mexico and declined to testify ... MLB suspended him 75 games, a stretch that did not include the postseason. ... [T]he Astros' front office [saw Osuna as] a distressed asset. They traded for him, and in terms of traditional organizational capital, the price was low ...

But the price was low for a reason: Many teams didn't want to deal with the public backlash for acquiring Osuna. The Astros decided it was worth it. ... But that doesn't mean they get to decide when the backlash ends.

This is the miscalculation that teams make over and over again. They acquire players with reprehensible pasts for less than market rate and concede that they will have to pay a price in public trust. But when the bill comes due, teams act like they, not the people their actions wounded, are the aggrieved party. How dare you keep reminding us of the past? Don't you understand we have baseball games to play?

And that's the irony of that interaction with Taubman. None of those women were talking to him. They weren't even talking about Osuna. Taubman brought him up.

After the trade, the Astros made some gestures to demonstrate how seriously they took domestic violence, referencing in a statement their "zero tolerance policy," donating $214,000 to various shelters and hanging fliers with hotline numbers in every women's restroom at Minute Maid Park. ...

But in truth, the Astros' front office acts as if it is tired of being yelled at about this subject. They want to be allowed to play their baseball games and pop their champagne without being forced to think about anything that happened away from the ballpark. ...

Houston is not the only team that used assault as a market inefficiency. In October 2015, Aroldis Chapman allegedly choked his girlfriend, Cristina Barnea, then fired a gun eight times into the wall of his garage. ... The Reds had agreed to trade him to the Dodgers, but L.A. pulled out in wake of the allegations. Instead Cincinnati flipped him to the Yankees ... When New York fell out of contention, it shipped Chapman to the Cubs ... [T]hat offseason, New York signed Chapman for five years and $86 million. ...

A year after the assault, Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner considered the fallout. ... "He paid the penalty. Sooner or later, we forget, right?"

No. Sooner or later, they forget. No matter what Taubman thinks about it, the rest of us can choose to remember for as long as we want.
The New York Daily News reported:
Already, at least two writers present at the scene have corroborated Apstein's story on Twitter. Houston Chronicle reporter Hunter Atkins tweeted, "The Astros called this @stephapstein report misleading. It is not. I was there. Saw it. And I should've said something sooner." Yahoo's Hannah Keyser posted a link to Apstein's tweet and wrote, simply, "can confirm."

Jake Kaplan of The Athletic reports that two additional media members confirmed Apstein's reporting (but prefer to remain anonymous for now).
[T]wo additional media members, speaking on the condition of anonymity, also confirmed the events as relayed by Apstein. ...

According to multiple witnesses, Taubman yelled the remarks in question near the end of Saturday's celebration. One witness said he doesn't remember seeing any players being in the area at the time, which contrasts with the team's statement that Osuna "was being asked questions about a difficult outing." ...

"I didn't get a good look at whether Taubman stared at them. But he was loud and obnoxious and he said what he said," said one witness, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "He definitely was not defending Osuna based on the bad game Osuna had. It was very clear."

As of this writing, MLB had yet to offer any comment on the situation. ...

Taubman, an assistant general manager, is Astros GM Jeff Luhnow's top lieutenant in the baseball operations department. He has worked for the Astros since 2013 and became an assistant GM last year. The Astros announced a contract extension for him last month.
Sports Illustrated posted this update on Tuesday:
Sports Illustrated Issues Statement After Astros Question SI's Reporting

Last night, the Houston Astros released a statement calling into question the accuracy of a report by Sports Illustrated's Stephanie Apstein on a scene she witnessed in the locker room during the Astros' ALCS-clinching celebration. Sports Illustrated unequivocally stands behind Apstein, her reporting and the story, which was subsequently corroborated by several other media members present at the scene. Any implication that SI or any of its journalists would 'fabricate' a story in its detail or intent is both disappointing and completely inexcusable. ...

The Astros declined to comment before SI published its story, but in a statement released after publication, the team called the article "misleading" and accused SI of attempting to "fabricate a story." The Astros did not deny Taubman's comments, but said he was "supporting the player during a difficult time."
Only two months ago (August 21), the Astros violated baseball's collective bargaining agreement by supporting (and then defending) Justin Verlander's demand that a Detroit Free Press reporter be refused entry into the team clubhouse.

During Game 3 of the 2017 World Series, Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel was caught on television making a racist gesture towards Dodgers pitcher Yu Darvish.

And because MLB cannot do anything right, it suspended Gurriel for five games ... to be served the following season. Gurriel was allowed to keep playing in the World Series, which the Astros won in seven games.

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