“I am sorry if anyone was offended by my actions.”
It’s not a real apology, the one Houston Astros assistant general manager Brandon Taubman gave today. He’s sorry we’re offended, not sorry he offended us. It’s an important distinction, between the desire to move on unblemished and genuine remorse.
Brandon Taubman’s insensitive behavior is carelessly cruel, an indication of how not seriously MLB and its teams view the issues of Domestic Violence, Assault, and Abuse. Players get suspended, lose some money and time in the spotlight, and then they return. Fan outrage comes in waves, but typically mostly subsides after a while, and baseball returns to its normal, pretending the people it employs aren’t people who should be in jail for their off-field actions.
This week, amidst the Astros’ celebrating their upcoming return to the World Series, assistant general manager Brandon Taubman turned to three female reporters in the Houston clubhouse and screamed, ““Thank God we got Osuna! I’m so f—— glad we got Osuna!” multiple times.
The women had not been speaking about Osuna, who’d nearly cost his team the game by allowing a game-tying two-run homer in the top of the 9th inning. They had not even been speaking to Taubman. One of them was wearing a purple domestic violence bracelet.
After Sports Illustrated‘s Stephanie Apstein reported on the incident, the Astros made a bad situation even worse. Their first statement, made last night, claimed that Apstein’s article was “misleading and completely irresponsible.” They attempted to discredit her, calling it an “attempt to fabricate a story.” Taubman’s outburst came in a room full of people, and was corroborated by multiple reporters, both male and female.
Houston’s next pair of statements sung a different tune. Made this morning, the “apologies” from Taubman and team owner Jim Crane were insensitive, nonsensical, and did not address the issue at hand. Taubman played the “committed husband and father” card, clearly missing the gross irony that Roberto Osuna was suspended and stood trial for assaulting the mother of his child. He claimed his charitable actions excuse his behavior; Bernie Madoff and Jeffrey Epstein were known for their philanthropy before they became known for their various crimes.
The Astros have had every opportunity to act with integrity to offset their decision to acquire Roberto Osuna last season, but instead, have acted like entitled frat boys and the current president, denying any wrongdoing even when all evidence points to the contrary, and making subsequent choices that only worsen the situation. They’ve claimed a “zero-tolerance policy,” but added him to the team mid-suspension anyway. His suspension, it should be noted, is the third-longest since MLB began implementing their Domestic Abuse Policy in 2015. The Astros removed a fan from their ballpark for holding up a sign that listed the Domestic Violence Hotline phone number. At the time of their trading for Osuna, GM Jeff Luhnow claimed it would “turn out to be a positive down the road” and that it would “raise awareness.” He’s right, in a way: fans are more aware than ever how little MLB cares about wife-beating when the player in question posts a sub-3 ERA and over fifty saves for a postseason team.
MLB shows it doesn’t care about the fans in a multitude of ways, pricing them out of the ballparks and blacking out games. But their insensitivity about issues of domestic abuse are undoubtedly the worst insult to fans who, bare minimum, want to know that the teams they love and support care about their most basic right to not be hurt by their loved ones.
Texas politician Beto O’Rourke recently told his audience, “It is no longer sufficient not to be racist — each one of us must commit to being anti-racist going forward.” (Dallas Observer) His message is absolutely correct; when it comes to the issues that matter, now is not a time for passive support, it is a time for action. It’s not enough for baseball players to just not abuse, many of them clearly can’t abstain from that; MLB must be actively anti-domestic violence.
Photo: Michael Ciaglo/Houston Chronicle