The Houston Astros fired assistant general manager Brandon Taubman on Thursday after initially denying a news article that Taubman had taunted female journalists in the baseball team's clubhouse about the signing of a pitcher accused of domestic violence.
"We were wrong," the Astros said in a statement, referring to the club's first claim that Taubman's "inappropriate comments were not directed toward any reporter."
Taubman's "conduct does not reflect the values of our organization and we believe this is the most appropriate course of action," the Astros said.
The team also directly apologized to Sports Illustrated and its reporter Stephanie Apstein, who on Monday broke the news of Taubman's heckling of the reporters about pitcher Roberto Osuna.
The reversal by the Astros came, the team said, after a two-day investigation by officials from Major League Baseball, who questioned members of the media.
Taubman repeatedly yelled, "Thank God we got Osuna, I'm so f------ glad we got Osuna," in the direction of three female reporters Saturday night after the Astros defeated the Yankees to win the American League pennant and secure a World Series berth, according to Sports Illustrated's article.
One of the reporters subjected to the taunts was wearing a purple domestic-violence awareness bracelet.
That reporter, according to a subsequent account by NPR, has tweeted repeatedly about domestic violence in recent years, and Taubman complained last year that her tweets of domestic violence hotline phone numbers had been posted "moments after Osuna entered several Astros games in relief."
Osuna, while playing with the Toronto Blue Jays, was arrested for alleged domestic violence in May 2018 against the mother of his young child. He later was signed by the Astros.
Although his criminal case was dropped after the alleged victim went to Mexico and refused to testify against him, Osuna was suspended for 75 games by the league.
The Astros originally had called Sports Illustrated's article "misleading and completely irresponsible," claiming that Taubman had spoken only after "being asked questions about a difficult outing."
"Our executive was supporting the player during the difficult time," the Astros said at the time. "His comments had everything to do with the game situation that just occurred and nothing else — they were also not directed toward any specific reporters."
The Astro's denials were soon disputed by other reporters who had witnessed Taubman's outburst.
And Taubman's reported words about Osuna made little or no sense in the context of the game because he had given up a two-run homer to the Yankees in the top of the ninth inning, putting the team at risk of a loss until second baseman Jose Altuve hit a home run later in the inning.
The Astros currently are down 0-2 in the World Series against the Washington Nationals. The next game is Friday in Washington.
Read the Houston Astros statement:
During the past two days, the Astros pro-actively 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.
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.
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.
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.