Astros Retract Original Statement On Taubman, Apologize To Reporter
The Astros "issued an official retraction of their six-day-old statement that falsely accused Sports Illustrated of attempting to fabricate a story" that detailed inappropriate behavior by recently fired Assistant GM Brandon Taubman, according to Chandler Rome of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE. Astros Owner Jim Crane sent SI reporter Stephanie Apstein a "three-sentence apology Saturday on Astros letterhead." Crane wrote in the letter, "We were wrong and I am sorry that we initially questioned your professionalism." Astros Senior VP/Marketing & Communications Anita Sehgal said, "This team needs to wear this statement. We screwed up. And we're going to own it as a team" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 10/28). In DC, Ben Strauss notes Apstein and Astros President of Baseball Operations & GM Jeff Luhnow met Friday evening ahead of World Series Game 3 at Nationals Park, where Apstein "requested a formal retraction of the Astros' original statement but was given no assurances one would be forthcoming" (WASHINGTON POST, 10/28). Before Luhnow's meeting with Apstein, Crane told reporters, "We made our statement. We got it wrong from the start. Jeff had reached out to the reporters and apologized. We made our statement. Other than that, we're not going [to] revisit at this point. We'll play baseball" (WASHINGTON POST, 10/26).
FINDING FAULT: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Jason Gay wrote, "We live in a world where 'fake news!' has become a cheap throwaway comment, but this was a direct denunciation of someone's professional reputation before the Astros had figured out what really happened" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 10/26). ESPN's Bomani Jones said "whoever green lit" the original statement "has to go, too." Jones added the Astros "made the call to do whatever it took to not fire" Taubman until they had "no other option." Jones: "Who are the people that made that call? Because they seem to have to answer for it also" ("High Noon," ESPN, 10/25). In Toronto, Doug Smith wrote, "It shouldn't end with just this Taubman guy getting fired" (TORONTO STAR, 10/26).
SEEING A PATTERN: THE ATHLETIC's Evan Drellich wrote for years, Astros observers have "cast doubt" on how well management "handles people, and on the team's priorities." The Taubman incident reveals "just how capable Astros management is of bulldozing people and decency." One ex-Astros employee "spoke of emotional devastation immediately following the trade" for P Roberto Osuna, due to the message "sent to the team's own employees -- and specifically women -- about domestic violence." The former staffer "saw no significant resources allocated to dealing with internal concerns." The "fallout from Taubman's behavior has some of the same themes" (THEATHLETIC.com, 10/25). YAHOO SPORTS' Hannah Keyser wrote much of what Luhnow said during a press conference on Thursday "attempts to perpetuate the convenient delusion that what happened at the ALCS was a standalone incident and not a sobering tip of the iceberg" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 10/25).
CREATING A CULTURE: In Boston, Peter Abraham wrote, "Culture is a buzzword that gets thrown around and its definition is nebulous. But it fits with the Astros in this case." Their front-office culture under Luhnow and with the approval of Crane is to "treat people poorly, do anything to get an edge, and lie when you're caught." Taubman was a "product of that environment and in talking to people around the game, none were surprised about what happened." Abraham: "At some point how you win matters. But that doesn't seem to matter with Houston" (BOSTON GLOBE, 10/27). Also in Boston, Tara Sullivan wrote Luhnow's "belated apologies, and an insistence Taubman's outburst was 'not representative of who the Astros are and our culture and what we stand for,' have been continually disproved by actions" (BOSTON GLOBE, 10/27).