The Astros are in the headlines for all the wrong reasons as they prepare to play in the World Series.
Shortly after the Astros acquired closer Roberto Osuna last year, I wrote that the organization would have to shoulder whatever consequences come from doing so. I just didn’t expect that they would create their own problems to deal with.
On the eve of the World Series, the Astros are facing some bad press, and it’s not even Osuna’s fault. It’s of their own doing. A Sports Illustrated report noted that Astros Assistant GM Brandon Taubman repeatedly yelled “Thank God we got Osuna! I’m so f—— glad we got Osuna!” during the clubhouse celebration following the team’s win in ALCS Game Six.
The declaration was supposedly directed at three female reporters, one of whom was wearing a bracelet for domestic violence awareness. It’s relevant, of course, because Osuna was serving a 75-game suspension for domestic violence when the Astros traded for him. They got him for a bargain price because of it.
In response to the report, the Astros issued a statement asserting that Taubman’s outburst was related only to Osuna’s on-field performance while denying that it was directed at anyone in particular. In short, the Astros organization accused the reporter of fabricating the story.
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Regardless of whether you believe the reporter or the Astros, there’s no getting around the fact that the organization has stepped in it, so to speak. Because even if you take the organization’s statement as gospel (although I wouldn’t), it still doesn’t excuse the behavior.
In the context of the recent advances society has made in regard to violence against women, in the context of the #MeToo movement, Taubman’s outburst is inexcusable. At worst, he comes off as a toxic misogynist, and at best he comes off as being just plain stupid. The fact that he may have been inebriated does not absolve him.
Even if he meant no harm, he should have known better. And even if he meant no harm, the Astros should have known better. Instead of trying to discredit the report, which makes the organization look complicit, they should have taken it seriously. A brief statement saying they’re investigating the incident and will address it accordingly would have looked so much better than essentially accusing the reporter of lying.
And for what it’s worth, it wasn’t just this one reporter. Several others witnessed the outburst and confirmed the SI report, including some Houston media members. When multiple reporters say it happened a certain way, maybe that’s an indication there’s something to it.
In spite of that, the Astros front office has exhibited a disturbing lack of awareness and sensitivity on this issue. Their statement asserted that Taubman “was supporting the player during a difficult time,” referencing Osuna’s earlier blown save. Forgive me if I don’t feel sorry for him.
Their Own Fault
Though the Astros organization won’t admit it, this is what they signed up for. When they brought in a player who was serving a suspension for domestic violence, they willingly shouldered whatever consequences came their way. They took advantage of his suspension to get him for a bargain. They don’t get to play the victim.
Now their moronic bungling has overshadowed what should be a great day for the organization. They’re about to compete for their second World Series title in three years, and the other 24 players on that roster are some of the best people in the game.
But as smart as the Astros front office has been, they’ve also been incredibly foolish in bringing in a guy like Osuna. They may dismiss his off-field issues as a mere “distraction,” but they brought the distraction on themselves. And now they’re letting it take away from the fact that they’ve built an incredibly talented team with a bunch of high-character guys, save for one.
Frankly, no one should feel sorry for the Astros or Osuna. Actions have consequences. It just seems like the team’s decision makers still haven’t wrapped their heads around that fact, nor have they been paying attention to the world around them.