The 2019 Houston Astros are one of the best teams to ever play the game. The players are some of the most likable in the game.
As a rival, they can break your heart. As a fan, they are impressive to watch.
The Astros front office is a completely different story. Confidence is a wonderful trait to have in anything you do. Arrogance is not. The Houston Astros front office has continued to show complete disregard for decorum in the game. Their approach is abrasive, condescending and arrogant when dealing with anyone outside their inner circle.
In fact, there is a tinge of immaturity that is reminiscent of a spoiled child.
The latest episode involves assistant GM Brandon Taubman. He used some colorful language to make light of domestic violence to women reporters in the clubhouse. This is the third time the Astros front office has shown a lack of class in dealing with others. The problems are usually compounded by the proverbial circling of the wagons as they attack those who call them on it.
The first time it happened was on the day after the City of Houston was devastated by Hurricane Harvey. Houston was set to host the Rangers the next series. However, the flooding in the area made it impossible to play. Astros President of Baseball Operations Reid Ryan suggested that the Rangers host the series and then switch series the next month. Rangers President of Baseball Operations Jon Daniels balked at this. He was protecting the Rangers fans who had tickets. The Rangers would also have to extend a long road trip at the end of the season. Ryan then proceeded to trash the Rangers in the media. Texas offered to give Houston all of the gate and concessions to help raise money for the victims. Ryan had a hissy fit because he didn’t get his way and moved the series to Tampa Bay. It was poorly attended and the revenue was severely hampered by this. They let arrogance take the place of common sense. Had Texas not been the team the Astros were playing, they would have gladly moved the series to Arlington.
The second time it happened was this season. Astros pitcher Justin Verlander apparently has an issue with Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press. He said that if Fenech was allowed in the post-game press conference he would not speak to the media. It’s understandable when a player has an issue with a writer. Especially if they feel that there was something unfairly reported or perhaps embellished. But the CBA states that players need to be available to the media after games. Velander could have refused to answer any questions from Fenech. That would have been appropriate in that situation. The Astros however, made the mistake of backing Verlander and denying him access to the press conference. Not only was this unacceptable according to the CBA, but is showed arrogance one again from the Astros brass.
Strike Three – You’re Out
The Taubman situation is the worst of the three. It all started in 2018 when the Astros traded for closer Roberto Osuna from the Toronto Blue Jays. Osuna was serving a 75 game suspension for assaulting the mother of his then 3-year-old son. There are teams throughout college and professional sports who take on troubled players. The Astros are not wrong in taking on Osuna. But taking on such a player can cause some backlash. Especially among women in this case. How you respond to that backlash is the key. Most would refrain from drawing attention to the situation. Be sympathetic to the concerns and refrain from throwing gasoline on the fire. It’s not as if they approved of Osuna’s behavior.
Once Osuna was acquired, a certain female member of the media began posting tweets. She wasn’t bashing the Astros as much as she was voicing her support for women who suffer from domestic violence. She simply would post Domestic Abuse Hotline numbers when Osuna would enter the game. This apparently didn’t sit well with Taubman. The reporter in question has asked to remain anonymous. But Taubman’s outburst was supposedly aimed at her. It was Sports Illustrated reporter Stephanie Apstein who wrote about the Taubman incident here.
As a credentialed media member, I have actually met the female reporter who was posting the hotline. She is funny and very likable. She knows more about baseball than me and is opinionated on bad baseball. I got the impression that she wasn’t a huge fan of the Astros front office just talking with her. The fact she is remaining anonymous is how classy she is. She doesn’t want the story to be about her.
The response to the SI article is where Houston once again showed their arrogance. They immediately attacked Apstein in an effort to discredit her. This is how they operate. Circle and defend at all costs.
In fact, they are 0-3 in the aftermath of how this went down.
The Astros, Taubman and Jeff Luhnow have all come across as tone-deaf in this situation. The only one who showed any class was manager A.J Hinch. He said, “No one, it doesn’t matter if it’s a player, a coach, a manager, and of you members of the media, should ever feel like that when you come into our clubhouse, that you’re going to be uncomfortable or disrespected”. Kudos to Hinch for giving this statement.
Now we wait to see if MLB or the Astros do anything about the incident. There is the talk of fines, suspensions or even termination going around.
Cheering against a rival is a long-held tradition. The actions of the Astros have made it easier for the casual fan to root against them. I know some personal friends who are huge Astros fans. I also know that they would not approve of the way they have handled this situation. The Astros players and manager have every right to be confident. They are an incredibly talented team. Hopefully, the front office will learn something from this and take a more measured approach moving forward.
With Washington stealing a game in Houston, this is setting up to be a great series. I wish this series was just about baseball. The Astros brass made it about something else.
Features Image: Brandon Taubman Linkedin