The Sports Illustrated report had described a verbal encounter, which occurred after Game 6 of the American League Championship Series. Three female reporters heard Taubman shouting “Thank God we got Osuna! I’m so f------ glad we got Osuna!” after reliever Roberto Osuna’s rocky appearance in that game. SI reported that Taubman turned to the reporters when he yelled his comments.
The Astros traded for Osuna in 2018 while he was serving a 75-game suspension under Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy. Houston faced criticism from fans, members of the media and women’s groups in the wake of the move and again this week, when the franchise initially issued a statement accusing Sports Illustrated of fabricating the story.
The magazine described the clubhouse scene, which was later confirmed by other reporters, as “offensive and frightening” enough to prompt an apology from another team employee.
“We pride ourselves on providing an inclusive, harassment-free environment in all of the various aspects of our business,” Manfred said. “It’s a core value for baseball, and I think that we have to be tremendously concerned whenever we have an incident that attracts this much attention.”
Earlier in the day, Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow said “we may never know” the intent behind Taubman’s outburst.
During a previously scheduled appearance on Houston’s SportsTalk790, Luhnow said Taubman and the three female journalists have “different perspectives” and “what we really don’t know is the intent behind the inappropriate comments he made.”
The commissioner said he has not received an interim report from investigators on the matter.
“You want to make sure you get all the facts, you want to be as thorough as you possibly can, understand the whole situation,” Manfred said. “But once you get there, you know, you want to get it behind you.”
After the Astros initially said Taubman was supporting Osuna while he was being asked questions during “a difficult time,” Taubman apologized in a subsequent statement, called himself a “progressive and charitable member of the community” and blamed his comments on “overexuberance in support of a player.”
Luhnow’s first public remarks on the story came in his interview with the radio station.
“Brandon has apologized from inappropriate behavior,” Luhnow said, “and I think, from my perspective, clearly something happened that he regrets.”
The Houston Chronicle cited two eyewitnesses in reporting that Taubman was “holding a cigar and standing with two or three other men when he yelled his comments,” and that the group of female reporters was “approximately eight feet away and one was visibly shaken by the comment.” One of the women, Stephanie Apstein of Sports Illustrated, told The Washington Post that a man who was standing with Taubman came over to the group of women to apologize after Taubman screamed at them. Apstein called the outburst “shocking.”
“For me, as a leader in this organization down here in the clubhouse, on the field, I take everything that happens in the clubhouse to heart,” Hinch said. “No one, it doesn’t matter if it’s a player, a coach, a manager, any of you members of the media, should ever feel like when you come into our clubhouse that you’re going to be uncomfortable or disrespected.”
“The Astros always, when they are attacked, will attack back,” Passan said. “And that’s what this was, despite the fact that we’re on Day 1 of the World Series … talking about this and not Gerrit Cole vs. Max Scherzer.”
Ken Rosenthal, who is providing sideline reporting for Fox Sports’s national telecasts of the World Series, wrote in the Athletic on Wednesday that after Houston went “a flailing, dishonest, offensive 0-for-3” in its response to Sports Illustrated’s report, “Manfred must fill the void created by the Astros’ inaction and impose harsh discipline on the club.”
“A lengthy suspension for Taubman and hefty fine for the Astros is warranted,” Rosenthal wrote.
Luhnow said he “welcomes” MLB’s investigation.
“We want anybody who interacts with our organization to feel comfortable and to feel respected,” Luhnow said. “Clearly that was not the case in the celebration after the Yankees victory. We can do better and we will do better. … I do apologize. This situation should have never happened.”