TODAY: Taubman’s job status “has been under evaluation in recent days” by the Astros, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports.
TUESDAY, 7:00pm: Taubman’s outburst was targeted at one particular reporter, per NPR’s David Folkenflik (all Twitter links). Folkenflik spoke to seven people regarding the incident and reports that Taubman had previously complained internally about this reporter’s persistent tweets offering contact information for domestic abuse hotlines following Houston’s acquisition of Osuna. Chandler Rome and David Barron of the Houston Chronicle report a similar tale, citing two sources close to the situation. Both Taubman and Crane declined further comments on the matter when asked by The Chronicle.
2:10pm: The Astros organization has changed course, no longer labeling the story as “misleading,” “irresponsible” or “fabricated” and instead issuing statements from Taubman and owner Jim Crane. Said Taubman:
This past Saturday, during our clubhouse celebration, I used inappropriate language for which I am deeply sorry and embarrassed. In retrospect, I realize that 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. Those that know me know that I am a progressive and charitable member of the community, and a loving and committed husband and father. I hope that those who do not know me understand that the Sports Illustrated article does not reflect who I am or my values. I am sorry if anyone was offended by my actions.
Crane added that the Astros “continue to be committed to using our voice to create awareness and support on the issue of domestic violence,” pointing to the teams charitable contributions in that regard. Neither party’s comment offered any sort of retraction of or apology for the prior statement which called into question the credibility of both Apstein and Sports Illustrated.
Major League Baseball plans to interview the involved parties before commenting further, according to a statement issued by the league this afternoon.
9:30am: While celebrating his organization’s ALCS victory on Saturday evening, Astros assistant GM Brandon Taubman repeatedly shouted at three female reporters who were standing together: “Thank God we got Osuna! I’m so f—— glad we got Osuna!” Stephanie Apstein of SI.com reported the outburst, which has since been confirmed by multiple other reporters — including Hannah Keyser of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link), Hunter Atkins of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link), and other sources that spoke with Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle and Jake Kaplan of The Athletic (subscription link).
That statement was made in apparent reference to the Astros’ controversial decision to acquire relief pitcher Roberto Osuna from the Blue Jays in July of 2018. Osuna was at the time serving a 75-game suspension under the MLB-MLBPA Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse policy for allegedly physically assaulting his girlfriend.
At the time that the Astros acquired Osuna, GM Jeff Luhnow stated that the organization “wanted to provide a second opportunity, a second chance” for Osuna. “It’s obviously created quite a bit of conversation in our community and across baseball and outside of baseball,” Luhnow observed. “Quite frankly, I think the conversation is healthy and I think that these topics are important and I’m glad we’re talking about it.” He also expressed hope that there would “be some positive that comes out of this situation down the road” while stating that “this topic is front and center for us as an organization.”
Taubman is reported to have been standing with a group of colleagues about eight feet away from the group of three reporters. He is said to have shouted the statements regarding Osuna about six times. An unnamed Astros employee thereafter issued some form of apology to the three women. Osuna had been questioned by reporters after giving up two runs during the contest, but was reportedly not in the vicinity when Taubman made his statements. Neither were any other players present. Luhnow was not in the clubhouse after the game, Rome tweets.
While the Astros declined to comment on the matter before SI’s reporting was released, the team did ultimately issue a statement last night. (Rome provided it on Twitter.) The Houston organization did not dispute what Taubman said, but labeled the story “misleading.” The Astros claimed, in conflict with the above-cited reports, that: “An Astros player was being asked questions about a difficult outing. Our executive was supporting the player during a difficult time. His comments had everything to do about the game situation that just occurred and nothing else — they were also not directed toward any specific reporters.”
This is not the first time this year that the Astros have come into conflict with media covering the organization. The club removed reporter Anthony Fenech from the clubhouse at the behest of star pitcher Justin Verlander. (Chris Thomas of the Detroit Free Press set forth the long and strange background of that matter from the paper’s side.) MLB issued a statement making clear that the team had acted improperly.