HOUSTON (CN) — The Houston Astros fired their assistant general manager Thursday amid an investigation by Major League Baseball into comments he shouted at a group of female reporters as the team celebrated a pennant-clinching win last Saturday.
Sports Illustrated published an article by reporter Stephanie Apstein on Oct. 21 that led to Brandon Taubman’s firing.
Apstein reported that as Astros players were whooping it up in their clubhouse at Minute Maid Park in Houston on Saturday after defeating the New York Yankees to win the American League Division Championship, Taubman turned to three female reporters and shouted, “Thank God we got Osuna! I’m so f—— glad we got Osuna!”
Apstein wrote Taubman’s outburst was odd because none of the women were talking to him, nor were they talking about relief pitcher Roberto Osuna. And Osuna had just blown a save, giving up a game-tying home run in the top of the ninth inning.
The Astros’ trade for Osuna in 2018 struck many as tone deaf and illustrative of a win-at-all-costs attitude because the 24-year-old pitcher had some baggage that made other teams steer clear of him, despite his status of one of the best closers.
When the Astros acquired Osuna from the Toronto Blue Jays he was serving a 75-game suspension for assaulting Alejandra Roman Cota, the mother of his child, while she was visiting him in Toronto.
Toronto police arrested Osuna and he was charged with assault, but the charges were dropped after she refused to testify. Osuna signed a bond ordering him not to contact Roman for a year.
Astros owner Jim Crane and its front office launched a charm offensive to try to appease critics of the trade.
They donated nearly $300,000 to two Houston-area women’s shelters and sponsored a domestic violence awareness program for male high school athletes. They also put fliers with domestic abuse hotline numbers in all the women’s restrooms at Minute Maid Park, according to Sports Illustrated and the Houston Chronicle.
After the Sports Illustrated story about Taubman’s comments broke, the Astros issued a statement calling it “misleading and completely irresponsible.”
“Our executive was supporting the player during a difficult time. His comments had everything to do about the game situation that had just occurred and nothing else — they were also not directed toward any specific reporters,” the team said.
Despite the Astros’ defense of Taubman, he apologized on Tuesday.
“In retrospect, I realize my comments were unprofessional and inappropriate. My overexuberance in support of a player has been misinterpreted as a demonstration of a regressive attitude about an important social issue,” he said in a statement, adding that he’s a “loving and committed husband and father.”
But the Astros reversed course and fired Taubman on Thursday after several other reporters backed up Apstein’s account and MLB launched an investigation.
“Our initial investigation led us to believe that Brandon Taubman’s inappropriate comments were not directed toward any reporter. We were wrong. We sincerely apologize to Stephanie Apstein, Sports Illustrated and to all individuals who witnessed this incident or were offended by the inappropriate conduct. The Astros in no way intended to minimize the issues related to domestic violence,” the team said.
The saga is an unwelcome distraction for Astros players and coaches as they face the Washington Nationals in the World Series. The Nationals beat them 12-3 Wednesday night. The series continues Friday with the Astros down 2-0 in the best of seven series.