Houston Astros’ assistant general manager Brandon Taubman ’07 is under fire after making seemingly pointed remarks to three female reporters on Saturday night regarding a player on his pennant-winning ball club who previously violated Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy.
Stephanie Apstein of Sports Illustrated first reported Taubman’s outburst, saying the Houston staffer shouted, “Thank God we got Osuna! I’m so fucking glad we got Osuna!” unprompted at female reporters in the locker room during the Astros’ postgame celebration.
Roberto Osuna, the Astros’ closer, blew a two-run lead in the ninth inning of Game 6 of the American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees. DJ LeMahieu’s game-tying home run delayed Houston’s pennant victory until Jose Altuve’s two-run homer in the bottom of the inning. Osuna’s poor outing put the Astros at risk of being forced into a win-or-go-home Game 7.
The Astros acquired Osuna on July 30, 2018 — five weeks after MLB commissioner Rob Manfred ’80 announced that Osuna violated MLB’s Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy and would serve a 75-day suspension.
“I was surprised to see this move made, and I think it’s going to be really uncomfortable. I trust the organization, but this move doesn’t make sense to me,” an anonymous player told the Houston Chronicle in July 2018.
MLB dispatched investigators to Houston after Taubman’s inflammatory comments, New York Post baseball columnist Joel Sherman reported Tuesday afternoon.
I heard MLB has dispatched investigators from its NYC office to Houston today hoping to speak to the reporters who witnessed what Brandon Taubman said in the clubhouse amid the #Astros ALCS win celebration. So discipline, including suspension, is still possible for Taubman.
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) October 22, 2019
The Astros initially declined to comment, but then on Monday night criticized the “misleading and completely irresponsible” Sports Illustrated article. The team claimed that Taubman was supporting Osuna after a lackluster performance and that the club was “extremely disappointed in Sports Illustrated’s attempt to fabricate a story where one does not exist.”
Sports Illustrated, however, maintained that Osuna was not being discussed at the time and that Taubman was not being addressed. Other outlets corroborated the initial Sports Illustrated report.
During the Astros’ ALCS celebration, assistant GM Brandon Taubman yelled, half a dozen times, to three female reporters, “Thank God we got Osuna! I’m so f——— glad we got Osuna!” On a systemic problem, in Houston and across the league: https://t.co/8zyVwG2Lpo
— Stephanie Apstein (@stephapstein) October 22, 2019
Astros owner and chairman Jim Crane highlighted the Astros’ partnership with the Texas Council on Family Violence in a statement on Tuesday. He cited the Astros’ fundraising efforts for the charity as evidence of the team’s strong stance against domestic violence.
Taubman apologized for his comments on Tuesday, saying that they were out of character.
“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,” Taubman said in a statement released by the Astros. “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.”
Taubman did not respond to The Sun’s requests for comment by publication time.
The former applied economics and management major and CALS Dean’s List Ambassador graduated from Cornell in 2007, kicking off his investment banking career at Ernst & Young while playing fantasy baseball online, according to the Cornell Alumni Magazine. The alumnus and his friend crafted a model to predict players’ success, and eventually, Taubman joined the Astros’ front office to work in Baseball Operations as an analyst.
In September 2018, Taubman was promoted to his current position of assistant GM (his title changed to Assistant General Manager, Player Evaluation this September), where he became GM Jeff Lunhow’s “right-hand man” and as recently as Monday was reported as a possible candidate for the Boston Red Sox’s open GM position.
The Baseball Writers’ Association of America demanded a public apology from Taubman on Tuesday night and called the Astros’ official statement “unethical” and “designed to discredit our members and all journalists.”
One of the journalists targeted in the incident was wearing a purple bracelet for Domestic Violence Awareness Month and had previously drawn Taubman’s ire with tweets about domestic violence that coincided with Osuna’s appearances in Astros games. Taubman had expressed to other members of the Astros’ front office his distaste for her comments.
“Domestic violence is extraordinarily serious and everyone in baseball must use care to not engage in any behavior — whether intentional or not — that could be construed as minimizing the egregiousness of an act of domestic violence,” the league said in an official statement Tuesday afternoon. “MLB will interview those involved before commenting further.”
The Washington Nationals won Game 1 of the World Series, 5-4, on Tuesday night. Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is set for 8:07 p.m. EDT Wednesday in Houston.