| October 25, 2019 11:17 AM
The Houston Astros fired Assistant General Manager Brandon Taubman in response to comments he made to three female reporters during the team’s celebration after winning the American League pennant. Taubman apologized for his words, which he said were “unprofessional and inappropriate”. Sports Illustrated reported that he yelled repeatedly at the three women, “Thank God we got Osuna! I’m so f—ing glad we got Osuna!”
“Osuna” is Astros closer Roberto Osuna. The team acquired him in 2018 at minimal loss during his 75-game suspension for domestic violence.
Ultimately, the Astros made the right move in firing Taubman. But their actions seem a bit hollow when they have no issue keeping Osuna, who caused this problem in the first place.
Police arrested Osuna on May 8, 2018, charging him with assault against Alejandra Roman Cota, the mother of his three-year-old boy. Although she did not come back to Toronto to testify against Osuna, he agreed to not have any contact with Cota for one year. On June 22, 2018, Osuna accepted the 75-game suspension without any sort of appeal.
By trading for him while still suspended, the Astros showed they do not take domestic violence seriously. They can do whatever they want with Taubman, who merely said bad things, but it does not change the fact that they have someone who actually committed domestic violence still on their team.
Taubman’s actions were rude and insensitive. Osuna’s were criminal and abusive. One got fired, the other might pitch in the World Series this weekend.
If the Astros really wanted to make a statement against domestic violence, not having Osuna on their roster would be it. The same could be said for every other team with a domestic violence offender on their roster.
Keeping a domestic violence offender on the roster is a great way to alienate fans and a terrible way to build a fan base in any sport. As the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports, “1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have been victims of severe physical violence (e.g. beating, burning, strangling) by an intimate partner in their lifetime.”
For many, it would be difficult to support Osuna or a team he plays for. After all, domestic violence victims, witnesses of domestic violence, and those who know domestic violence victims comprise most of the country.
It can’t be good for ratings in baseball. There is evidence weak domestic violence policies hurt the NFL’s television ratings. Between the 2016 and 2017 seasons, the league’s ratings dropped by more than 17 percentage points and a 2017 JD Power poll found the league’s failure to take action on domestic violence was the number two reason why fans tuned out (just behind the national anthem protests).
It would be shocking if the Astros did the right thing and got rid of Osuna. Perhaps Major League Baseball will push for a zero-tolerance policy for domestic violence in the next collective bargaining agreement. According to USA Today, the current one is set to expire in December 2021.
The Houston Astros are down two games in the World Series. Perhaps the Washington Nationals are just the better team, or perhaps the Astros players are distracted by the furor over Taubman and Osuna. Either way, the Astros leadership have only themselves to blame.
Tom Joyce (@TomJoyceSports) is a freelance writer who has been published with USA Today, the Boston Globe, Newsday, ESPN, the Detroit Free Press, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The Federalist, and a number of other media outlets.