In a disturbing article published last night by Sports Illustrated, Stephanie Apstein reported an incident during the Astros’ ALCS-winning celebration in which Houston Assistant GM Brandon Taubman came up to a group of reporters—all female with one wearing a domestic violence awareness bracelet—and “yelled, half a dozen times, ‘Thank God we got Osuna! I’m so f------ glad we got Osuna!’” A pertinent fact is that Osuna had blown the save in the top of the ninth inning and was only off the hook thanks to his fellow abuser Aroldis Chapman in turn blowing it for the Yankees.
Roberto Osuna found his way to the Astros in 2018 via a 75 game suspension for assaulting his partner and co-parent, who eventually chose to drop charges and leave the country. The suspension did not cover the postseason and Houston acquired him at a steep discount. Amazin’ Avenue Audio podcast A Pod of their Own discussed his, and Chapman’s, presence in this postseason in a recent episode.
Apstein’s article is an excellent one, working off of this unsettling episode to discuss what it means to forgive and forget in regards to domestic violence in sports and I’d encourage everyone to read it.
But nearly as appalling as behavior by Taubman has been the response by the Astros organization. This time, they were not content to stay within their usual confines of wishy-washy, self-serving non-statements like “I think the organization will support [Osuna] and turn this into a positive” that dominated their defensiveness around his acquisition.
Instead, they have opted to lean fully into a misogynistic, gaslighting moral bankruptcy claiming that the story was completely fabricated and that Taubman was defending a player who “was being asked questions about a difficult outing.” This rebuttal might be worthy of consideration except that three eyewitnesses, including two reporters from the Houston Chronicle, confirmed Apstein’s account. The irony of gaslighting being a common abuse tactic is not lost.
Not to be lost in this story is the effect Taubman had, intentionally or otherwise, on the reporters he targeted in his rant. Women are still underrepresented in sports reporting and still asked to defend their presence in a locker room, just a few decades having finally been allowed in at all. Instead of being free to do their jobs—to recount the joyous activities of the long-awaited evening—they were forced into an unexpected and alarming one-sided conversation about violence.
The sad fact is, this interactions are almost inevitable in an industry run primarily by men of privilege who view domestic violence more as an opportunity than as threat to the physical and mental safety of women. The Astros may have decided to be more up front about their priorities than other teams, but they are not the exception to the rule and the next player to get caught abusing a partner will certainly find a team all too happy to forgive him. And they won’t let us forget it.
Update: Following the original publication of this article, both Taubman and Astros owner Jim Crane released statements that acknowledged neither the seriousness of the actions of Taubman on Saturday night nor the team’s decision to baselessly accuse Apstein and Sports Illustrated of fabricating the story. They can be read in full here.