WASHINGTON — Three days after calling a Sports Illustrated story that alleged inappropriate behavior on the part of a club executive toward three female reporters “misleading and completely irresponsible” and later using the word “fabricate” in attempting to discredit the report, the Astros fired assistant general manager Brandon Taubman on Thursday.
“We were wrong,” the Astros said in part of their statement.
General manager Jeff Luhnow, who in a radio interview with the club’s flagship radio station a day earlier seemed to extend Taubman, who attended Syosset High School, at least some benefit of the doubt, repeated that several times during a contentious news conference early Thursday evening.
“That original reaction by the Astros was wrong, and we own it as an organization,” Luhnow said of the Monday night statement that turned a small fire into a full-fledged conflagration. “There were many people involved in reviewing that and approving that. And I’m not going to get into the details of that.”
Which is where Luhnow, who did acknowledge he was one of those people who approved that statement, dug himself in further in what at times was a roller-coaster ride of a news conference.
It became clear that those inside the Astros’ organization — with whom MLB officials are infuriated for distracting from the World Series — responsible for making a bad situation worse will not be facing discipline.
“You know, the person that was responsible for making those inappropriate comments has been terminated from employment with the Astros,” Luhnow said. “And that’s the action that we’ve taken at this point.”
He later added: “We as an organization have certainly learned a lesson about taking our time to react and making sure that we don’t do anything to make the situation worse, because that’s essentially what we did.”
The Astros trail the Nationals two games to none in the World Series after losing twice at home. Game 3 will be played on Friday night at Nationals Park.
The Sports Illustrated story, written by Stephanie Apstein and posted Monday night, alleged that Taubman “turned to a group of three female reporters, including one wearing a purple domestic violence awareness bracelet, and yelled half a dozen times, ‘Thank God we got Osuna! I’m so [expletive] glad we got Osuna!’ ” during the Astros’ clubhouse celebration after Saturday’s ALCS- clinching victory over the Yankees.
The comments related to closer Roberto Osuna, whom the Astros traded for while he was serving a 75-game suspension in 2018 for violating MLB’s domestic violence policy.
The report also said “another Houston staffer apologized” to the reporters who heard Taubman’s remarks.
That staffer was not Luhnow, which he made somewhat clear at the end of the news conference. He was asked if he himself had reached out to apologize to Apstein, whom the Astros at first tried to discredit with their statement, or any of the women targeted by Taubman.
“I have not — I have been traveling up here,” Luhnow said. “We’ve been . . . I had to have a pretty tough conversation this morning with someone that’s worked with me for a long time. But I will [apologize] as soon as I can.”
Apstein was sitting in the room as he spoke.