Opinion: Astros still don’t get it, and must pay a steeper price beyond firing assistant
Knowing what we now know about the boys-will-be-boys philosophy of the Houston Astros, we probably should be relieved that they finally stumbled upon the decision to fire assistant general manager Brandon Taubman for his expletive-laced tirade supporting an alleged domestic abuser directed at three journalists, all of them women, in the Astros locker room Saturday night after the American League Championship Series.
That the Astros were at least three days late in firing Taubman, and that they still botched Thursday’s announcement, should surprise no one. This is a team that has been a continuing embarrassment to a sport and a league desperately in need of attracting a newer, younger, less-male audience. This is a team that has sullied the biggest week on the baseball calendar trying to cover up a self-induced public relations fiasco. This is a team that has shown an utter disregard for honesty, for fairness, for doing the right thing.
If the powers that be in MLB don’t throw the book at the Astros, far beyond the firing of Taubman, it will perpetuate this storyline, showing millions of women, men and their families that baseball really doesn’t care all that much about them.
The Astros’ inability to understand and deal with the world around them was still on full display with their self-congratulatory statement Thursday announcing they had “pro-actively assisted Major League Baseball in interviewing Astros employees as part of MLB’s investigation of the events published in the recent Sports Illustrated article.”
“Pro-actively” assisting with the interview process is something to crow about only when you’ve spent days stone-walling, attacking and lying to protect an employee who deserved to be fired. Otherwise, “pro-actively” assisting an MLB investigation should pretty much be standard operating procedure for an actual MLB team.
The Astros’ statement went on to say that their “initial investigation” led them to believe that Taubman’s “inappropriate comments were not directed toward any reporter.”
An hour or so after that statement came out, Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow actually contradicted it in front of reporters at Nationals Park, saying there was no investigation by the organization.
Let’s pause for a moment to consider just how inept the leadership of the Astros must be to take all that time to try to get it right, and still get it wrong. The whole bumbling Astros organization must be stuck in the seventh inning of World Series Game 2, unable to escape.
But since the statement did talk of an “initial investigation,” if it had happened, this is how it would have gone:
Astros: Brandon, did you scream, “Thank God we got (Roberto) Osuna! I’m so (bleeping) glad we got Osuna!” over and over at three reporters?
Astros: Okay, great, we’re done with our investigation. Now we’ll attack the Sports Illustrated reporter who broke the news.
In their Thursday statement, the Astros did say that they were wrong about this, and “sincerely” apologized to SI’s Stephanie Apstein, who exhibited the professionalism, grace and class to try to get a comment from the Astros Monday before writing even one word about this troubling incident, only to be trashed by the Astros PR people, who really should be joining Taubman in finding a new line of work.
Let’s go back to that Monday statement. The Astros called Apstein’s story “misleading and completely irresponsible,” then proceeded to make up a story to cover for Taubman. “We are extremely disappointed in Sports Illustrated’s attempt to fabricate a story where one does not exist.”
Lies, all lies. Anyone who wrote this, read this or approved this should not be allowed to work another day for the Astros. Lo and behold, one of those people was Luhnow, who admitted Thursday, “I saw it before it went out.”
This is a big deal. What say you, Astros ownership and MLB? Are you really serious about this issue? If so, how does Luhnow escape punishment?
Also in their new statement, the Astros said they “in no way intended to minimize the issues related to domestic violence.”
Of course they did. This is another flat-out lie. Minimizing domestic violence is exactly what the Astros did when they signed Osuna, who was suspended for 75 games under MLB’s domestic violence policy in 2018 for allegedly assaulting the mother of his then-3-year-old child.
It’s what they are doing during the Series by having Osuna still on their roster as their closer. Someone should tell the Astros they actually have the ability to get rid of Osuna right now if they wanted to show how much they are not minimizing domestic violence.
While the Astros have shown themselves to be entirely out of their league in 21st century America, they were exposed this week by dozens of journalists, women and men, who called out their lies on Twitter. The social media onslaught, so heartening on behalf of women in sports media, must have shocked them.
The Astros thought they were living in a different world, a world where lying and covering up and supporting alleged domestic abusers is still accepted. They were wrong.
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