How the “Taubman-Osuna” Debacle Exposes a Serious Issue For MLB
The Taubman-Osuna debacle from last week has carried with it a dark cloud that now looms over all of Major League Baseball. The original incident occurred the night of Astros’ decisive win against the New York Yankees when they were crowned ALCS Champs. It involved the (now) former assistant manager of the Astros, one of their star pitchers, their front office, and Sports Illustrated (SI).
Let’s take a look at the play by play. We’ll begin with SI. On Monday, October 21, SI released a statement defending the integrity of their reporting after the Astros had essentially accused them of lying. Notice SI’s statement also includes the link to Stephanie Apstein’s original report of the incident:
Last night, the Houston Astros released a statement calling into question the accuracy of a report by Sports Illustrated’s Stephanie Apstein on a scene she witnessed in the locker room during the Astros’ ALCS-clinching celebration. Sports Illustrated unequivocally stands behind Apstein, her reporting and the story, which was subsequently corroborated by several other media members present at the scene. Any implication that SI or any of its journalists would ‘fabricate’ a story in its detail or intent is both disappointing and completely inexcusable.
For reference, he’s what the Astros had said…via Twitter:
So, it goes like this: The Houston Astros win pennant. One hour goes by and the partying in the clubhouse has only amped up. Osuna was clearly the least valuable player that evening. Amid the celebrations, Astros assistant general manager Brandon Taubman abruptly shouted, “Thank God we got Osuna! I’m so fucking glad we got Osuna!”
According to the report by Apstein, he said this half a dozen times at the direction of three female reporters, one of whom was wearing a purple domestic violence awareness bracelet. YIKES. Astros don’t believe the report despite Astros staffers corroborating it. SI doubles down. Eventually, the Astros fire Taubman, and make amends to Apstein and SI.
So, wait, what about this Osuna guy?
Roberto Osuna is one of the closing pitchers for the Astros. How he ended up there? Well…
According to Sports Illustrated:
Osuna likely only pitches for Houston because he allegedly assaulted Alejandra Román Cota, the mother of his then-three-year-old child, in May 2018, as a member of the Blue Jays. Prosecutors dropped the charges after Cota returned to Mexico and declined to testify; as part of the bargain, Osuna agreed not to have contact with her for one year. MLB suspended him 75 games, a stretch that did not include the postseason. Osuna was one of the best closers in the game, and his infraction made him, in the mind of the Astros’ front office, a distressed asset. They traded for him, and in terms of traditional organizational capital, the price was low: the Astros gave up their own struggling closer and two middling pitching prospects for him.
But the price was low for a reason: Many teams didn’t want to deal with the public backlash for acquiring Osuna. The Astros decided it was worth it. Since he got to Houston, Osuna has a 2.46 ERA and 50 saves. The Astros may win another World Series. But that doesn’t mean they get to decide when the backlash ends.
So here we are. The back and forth dominated the sports news cycle, even as the World Series began. Now, with a 4-3 lead over Washington, the Houston Astros are on the cusp of winning the World Series. That means that tonight might be the final night of professional baseball for the rest of the year. It is also very likely that controversial player, Roberto Osuna, will take the mound. His presence on the Astros squad has been increasingly scrutinized, and rightfully so. In such a male dominated sport, the need for checks and balances is critical. There is not doubt that going forward all teams will need to re-evaluate their relationship with not just female fans, but women in general. Especially, as it pertains to controversy over physical harm because October isn’t just playoff season for baseball, it’s also Domestic Violence Awareness Month.