The Houston Astros fired assistant general manager Brandon Taubman on Thursday after an investigation with Major League Baseball concluded that he directed inappropriate comments at female reporters during the team’s postgame clubhouse celebration Saturday.
Taubman, 34, joined the Astros in 2013 and was promoted to assistant general manager in 2018. He received a contract extension last month. Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said the decision to fire him was made “unilaterally” before MLB made any recommendations on discipline.
In an Sports Illustrated article published online Monday, Taubman was alleged to have repeatedly shouted at three female reporters, “Thank God we got Osuna! I’m so [expletive] glad we got Osuna!”
Taubman was referring to Roberto Osuna, the Astros’ closer. The team traded for Osuna last season as he completed a 75-game suspension for allegedly assaulting the mother of his child months earlier. One of the women Taubman yelled at was wearing a purple bracelet for domestic violence awareness. She also regularly tweeted phone numbers for domestic violence awareness hot lines when Osuna pitched.
Shortly after the article appeared on Sports Illustrated’s website, the Astros asserted Taubman’s behavior was misconstrued and accused the reporter, Stephanie Apstein, of fabricating the story. On Thursday, the Astros apologized in a statement before Luhnow conducted a news conference at Nationals Park.
“Our initial investigation led us to believe that Brandon Taubman’s inappropriate comments were not directed toward any reporter,” the statement read. “We were wrong. We sincerely apologize to Stephanie Apstein, Sports Illustrated and to all individuals who witnessed this incident or were offended by the inappropriate conduct. The Astros in no way intended to minimize the issues related to domestic violence.”
Luhnow refused to reveal who composed, reviewed, and approved the club’s initial statement. He acknowledged that multiple people were involved and that he was one of the people who “saw” the statement before it was released.
“Regardless of who wrote it, who approved it, it was wrong, it was incorrect,” Luhnow said. “It should never have been sent out. We’ve learned a lesson about it. We had a sense of what happened that was different than what we found out pretty immediately afterward.”
Luhnow said the organization issued the statement without a thorough investigation, believing Taubman when he said he was talking to a colleague and “it was not intended to be overheard.” Asked how the explanation acknowledging the Astros knew Taubman had voiced the comments matches their initial determination that Apstein fabricated the story, Luhnow could not muster much of an explanation.
“It was wrong and we stand by it as an organization that it was incorrect, it was wrong, and that’s all we can really say at this point,” Luhnow said. “I know you want more, but I can’t really give you more.”
Luhnow also defended the organization’s culture, insisting the problem wasn’t “endemic.” He had not personally apologized to Apstein or the other reporters who witnessed the incident because he had been busy. Apstein was present during the press conference.
On Tuesday, Taubman released a statement in response to the allegations. He maintained his behavior was “misinterpreted” and that the outburst stemmed from his “overexuberance in support” of Osuna, who had allowed a game-tying home run in the ninth inning against the Yankees in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series that night. He said he was “sorry if anyone was offended by my actions.”
The apology was met with criticism. By the end of Wednesday, Luhnow said the team realized Taubman had lied. By Thursday, he was unemployed.
Nationals manager Dave Martinez named Patrick Corbin the starter for Saturday’s Game 4. Corbin’s status had been unclear because he was available as a reliever in Game 2 if needed. But the Nationals’ rout allowed them to avoid using the left-hander and save him for the start. Houston will counter with a bullpen game. . . . Cody Bellinger was named a Gold Glove finalist as a right fielder. He is up against Jason Heyward and Bryce Harper for the award. No other Dodger was nominated