Thursday, October 24, 2019

The Astros' Statement, With Thoughts

Brandon Taubman was fired this afternoon. The Astros released a statement. The release is in italics, I'm leaving paragraphs in full, and I'm going to pepper in some thoughts. If this is an unwelcome issue for you, or you think I'm not qualified to do so, then feel free to leave a comment below (wink).

During the past two days, the Astros proactively assisted Major League Baseball in interviewing Astros employees as part of MLB's investigation of the events published in the recent Sports Illustrated article. Major League Baseball also separately interviewed members of the media over the past 24 hours.

Okay, so I thought this "MLB investigation" would take place after the World Series ended. Clearly, I was wrong. Let's also pay special attention to the fact that "the Astros proactively assisted." MLB was driving this investigation, not the Astros. MLB handled separate interviews with relevant media members since Wednesday, presumably because they didn't trust anyone from the Astros organization to not make mean faces at the reporters, or slowly draw their index finger across their neck while they answered MLB's questions.

Our initial investigation led us to believe that Brandon Taubman's inappropriate comments were not directed toward any reporter. 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.

This should have been the substance of the initial response issued Monday night, you know, the night before the World Series started. Those three words, "We were wrong" followed by the next direct apology to Stephanie Apstein, were welcome and, ultimately, late. Had they done this in the first place, or on Sunday, or even Monday morning or afternoon, this is apparently not even an issue.

Our initial belief was based on witness statements about the incident. Subsequent interviews have revealed that Taubman's inappropriate comments were, in fact, directed toward one or more reporters. Accordingly, we have terminated Brandon Taubman's employment with the Houston Astros. His conduct does not reflect the values of our organization and we believe this is the most appropriate course of action.

The Astros' initial belief was based on what Taubman told them, there's no other way to interpret it. When faced with a potential PR disaster, they closed ranks and protected their own...until MLB stepped in and that was no longer a tenable position. I honestly didn't think the Astros would fire Taubman. I thought they'd make him do some BS "sensitivity training" that he could knock out on a Saturday morning at the Golden Corral up near Spring before getting back to planning how to screw someone over in arbitration.

But it's also not surprising that the "subsequent interviews" were in line with the initial reporting, if you believed Stephanie Apstein in the first place. If you believed that a reporter would simply not make this entire situation up and would actually prefer to report a story and not be the story, then this comes as no great shock. How much of what our society is currently experiencing - and especially to those of you who think that Baseball is: a Respite from What's Actually Happening and not what Baseball actually is: Indicative of What's Actually Happening - could have been avoided if you just, simply, believe the report and the corroborations of the report.

We are thankful to Major League Baseball and to everyone that cooperated in the investigation. As previously stated, the Astros are very committed to using our voice to create awareness and support on the issue of domestic violence. We fully support MLB and baseball's stance and values regarding domestic violence. We will continue to make this cause a priority for our organization.

Again: MLB drove this. Not the Astros. The Astros are now responding to the outrage over their initial response. I believe that the Astros really want to look like they're using their voice to create awareness and support over the issue of domestic violence. Firing Taubman was a step in that direction. But if they had handled this the right way - not to mention that if Taubman hadn't been an absolute douche in the clubhouse in the first place - it wouldn't have come to this.

Should Taubman have been fired for a misplaced temper tantrum an hour after the Astros won the Pennant? I don't know. But without question he damaged the Astros' #brand in baseball and in the eye of the public - baseball fans or not. You are reading an Astros blog. Obviously you are biased because the only way you're reading this is if you read this blog, or you clicked a link on Twitter, which means that you either follow or someone thought you should read this. You can't unexperience the last three days, but if you were but a simple NPR listener/reader and came across David Folkenflik's piece on Tuesday, this was the likeliest outcome.

If you're mad that Taubman got fired, I would ask you, "What do you know of Brandon Taubman?" I follow this team with a passion that can most charitably be described as Odd, and when I heard the initial report, I thought, "Taubman? The Fantasy Baseball guy?" You don't know anything about him. You're mad, probably, because this is all of a sudden a world where a guy can't, with questionable logic for defending Osuna in that moment, misogynistically lash out at some female reporters. And if that's the case, my friend, it's too late.


For anyone who wants to accuse me of Virtue-Signaling (I'm sure it's coming on the cursed Twitter dot com): I am apparently truly sorry that I, a middle-aged white guy, have the ability to understand that - in the grand scheme of things - I hit the genetic jackpot and also try to have empathy with people who are under attack for no reason other than what they're saying isn't really all that Popular.