Kyle Kendrick apologizes for showing up Ryne Sandberg

8 Comments

Phillies pitcher Kyle Kendrick was throwing well through five innings in Saturday’s start against the Giants, holding them to one run. He entered the sixth with a 5-1 lead, but all hell broke loose. Buster Posey led off with a single, then Pablo Sandoval hit a mile-high pop-up to the right side of the infield. Both second baseman Chase Utley and first baseman Ryan Howard came after it, but the ball dropped between them. Utley picked up the ball and quickly made a back-hand flip to second base in attempt to secure the force out, but it was wide and dragged shortstop Jimmy Rollins off of the bag, allowing both runners to reach safely. Mike Morse followed up with an RBI double to make it 5-2 and put runners on second and third.

Manager Ryne Sandberg came out to the mound to get Kendrick. As is customary, the pitcher waits on the mound before handing off the ball to his manager, but a frustrated Kendrick was already on his way off the field before Sandberg could reach the mound. Lefty reliever Mario Hollands came in, but the Giants kept scoring, and the Phillies ultimately lost 6-5.

Kendrick apologized for showing up his manager and explained his frustration afterwards. Via CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury:

“We talked,” Kendrick said before Sunday afternoon’s game. “I know it wasn’t the right thing to do.”

[…]

“Obviously you want the ball caught, but I was just upset at coming out of the game,” he said. “The ball falling in had nothing to do with it. I didn’t handle it right.”

[…]

“He wanted to see where I was at,” Kendrick said. “I didn’t want to come out of the game. I wasn’t trying to show up Ryno. That wasn’t my intention. I was upset and I wanted to get where no one could see me as quick as possible.

“Everything’s been kind of building up. It’s been a tough year for us and me personally. You’ve got to keep fighting, but little stuff irritates you.”

Following Saturday’s start, Kendrick has a 5-11 record with a 4.90 ERA and a 91/44 K/BB ratio in 154 1/3 innings over 25 starts. He can become a free agent after the season. Given the Phillies’ status as non-contenders for the foreseeable future, it seems unlikely that the team would bring him back in 2015. As a result, Kendrick is essentially auditioning for prospective teams over the remaining month and a half of the season.

Report: Astros’ assistant GM yelled ‘Thank God we got Osuna!’ at female reporters

Mike Stobe/Getty Images
7 Comments

Last year, then-closer for the Blue Jays Roberto Osuna was arrested in Toronto on an assault charge. He allegedly assaulted the mother of his then three-year-old son. The charge was eventually withdrawn in exchange for a peace bond, but Major League Baseball still suspended Osuna for 75 games without pay.

Due to the off-the-field ugliness, the Astros were able to acquire Osuna on the relative cheap, sending Ken Giles, David Paulino, and Hector Perez to the Blue Jays. Osuna has been mostly great for the Astros since the trade, finishing the 2018 season with 12 saves, a 1.99 ERA, and a 19/3 K/BB ratio in 22 2/3 innings in his new uniform. This year, Osuna racked up an American League-high 38 saves with a 2.63 ERA and a 73/12 K/BB ratio in 65 innings.

With the Astros holding a 4-2 lead in the top of the ninth in ALCS Game 6 against the Yankees, manager A.J. Hinch called on Osuna to get the final three outs to send his team to the World Series. He ended up allowing a leadoff single to Gio Urshela, then a game-tying two-run home run to DJ LeMahieu. Nevertheless, the Astros won it in the bottom of the ninth thanks to José Altuve’s walk-off two-run homer off of Aroldis Chapman.

In the postgame celebration, Stephanie Apstein of Sports Illustrated reports that Astros assistant general manager Brandon Taubman yelled towards a group of three female reporters, “Thank god we got Osuna! I’m so … glad we got Osuna!” Taubman repeated the phrase half a dozen times. One of the reporters was wearing a purple domestic violence awareness bracelet.

The Astros declined to comment on the issue and did not make Taubman available for an interview. That shouldn’t come as a shock because the Astros have organizationally failed repeatedly to meaningfully address Osuna’s behavior. GM Jeff Luhnow released a poorly thought out statement last July about Osuna, claiming that the Astros’ due diligence was “unprecedented,” and citing that Osuna is “remorseful” and “willingly complied with all consequences,” despite pleading not guilty and not having had his day in court yet, thus no consequences. The Astros released another statement in August defending their belief that “Roberto deserved a second chance.”

Later that month, Osuna went after his critics, saying, “Everybody is judging me for things they don’t know. I don’t like that.” In the postseason, teammate Ryan Pressly defended Osuna from a heckler, telling the fan, “You can talk all the sh– you want. Just don’t bring that stuff up.”

The Astros also kicked out a fan who protested Osuna’s presence by holding up a sign displaying a domestic violence hotline number. After receiving plenty of criticism for that, the Astros decided to display flyers, featuring the National Domestic Violence Hotline number, in women’s restrooms at Minute Maid Park.

Taubman’s behavior is not the first strike for the Astros on this issue. Acquiring Osuna was strike one. Luhnow’s statement and the club’s subsequent statement were strikes two and three. Osuna’s backlash was strike four, Pressly’s defense of him was strike five, and the whole issue over the DV hotline sign was strike six. The Astros are in danger of having the side strike out on this issue.

It’s also worth mentioning that Luhnow worked for McKinsey and Company, a management consulting firm, before getting into baseball. McKinsey has been consulting for the Astros since 2017, The Athletic’s Evan Drellich reported in July. McKinsey has, ahem, a checkered past.

The Astros have clearly and intentionally thrown ethics to the side in order to run a baseball-related business. That they have repeatedly mishandled a very serious domestic violence issue within the sport shouldn’t come as a surprise, and it shouldn’t be surprising that the Astros are hoping the issue goes away with the World Series set to begin on Tuesday.

Update: The Astros released a statement. Via Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle:

The story posted by Sports Illustrated is misleading and completely irresponsible. An Astros player was being asked questions about a difficult outing. Our executive was supporting the player during a difficult time. His comments had everything to do about the game situation that just occurred and nothing else — they were also not directed towards any specific reporters. We are extremely disappointed in Sports Illustrated’s attempt to fabricate a story where one does not exist.

The Astros had an initial chance to respond to the story before publication and didn’t take Sports Illustrated up on it. They also didn’t deny that Taubman said what was reported. They’re disputing the context and the intended audience, but that doesn’t really make them look that much better. Perhaps an organization with a less spotty history would get the benefit of the doubt, the Astros certainly haven’t earned it.

Furthemore, Hunter Atkins of the Houston Chronicle and Hannah Keyser of Yahoo Sports both confirmed Apstein’s report. Atkins tweeted, “The Astros called this @stephapstein report misleading. It is not. I was there. Saw it. And I should’ve said something sooner.”