Report: Astros kicked out a fan protesting Roberto Osuna with sign displaying domestic violence hotline number

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Steve Campion of ABC13 reports that the Astros kicked out a fan protesting reliever Roberto Osuna with a sign displaying the phone number of the Houston Area Women’s Center domestic violence hotline. The sign simply read, “Houston Domestic Violence Hot Line 713.528.2121.”

The fan, Kevin Jukkola, said he has held the sign up at several other games, but security asked him to turn it over during Saturday’s game against the Angels and he was then kicked out of Minute Maid Park. Jukkola said, “Some people were not happy about it. Some people were supportive. But either way, there was never an usher called. No security was ever called. Nothing ever happened until Saturday night. I want them to allow me to peacefully protest and not to be removed from the ballpark.”

Osuna was arrested on May 8 by Toronto police and charged with assaulting a woman. He accepted a 75-game suspension from Major League Baseball on June 22. Osuna is scheduled to appear in court in Toronto on Wednesday.

Various members of the Astros, including GM Jeff Luhnow, have clumsily attempted to justify the club’s acquisition of Osuna from the Blue Jays on July 30. Osuna himself didn’t speak on the matter until recently, proclaiming his innocence. He said, “No one knows what happened but obviously me. … I’m just waiting for everything to come out so people can really wait to see what happened.”

While the Astros have the right to remove a fan for whatever reason they see fit, it’s not a good look as it makes the organization look defensive and like they’re attempting to silence peaceful protest. Ryan Meier, an Astros fan who witnessed Jukkola’s removal said, “Domestic violence is a serious issue. I think the sign should be irrelevant in the ballpark because the Astros should already have one instead of us needing to bring one.”

Brown hired as general manager of Houston Astros

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HOUSTON — In joining the World Series champion Houston Astros, new general manager Dana Brown’s goal is to keep the team at the top of the league.

“I’m coming to a winning team and a big part of what I want to do is sustain the winning long term,” he said. “We want to continue to build, continue to sign good players, continue to develop players and continue the winning success.”

Brown was hired by the Astros on Thursday, replacing James Click, who was not given a new contract and parted ways with the Astros just days after they won the World Series.

Brown spent the last four seasons as the vice president of scouting for the Atlanta Braves.

“He is very analytic savvy,” Astros’ owner Jim Crane said. “He’s a great talent evaluator based upon what we’ve seen at the Braves, seasoned at player acquisitions, seasoned at player development and retention. They were often able to extend some of their player contracts… he’s got great people skills, excellent communicator and, last but not least, he’s a baseball player and knows baseball in and out and we were very impressed with that.”

The 55-year-old Brown becomes the only Black general manager in the majors and joins manager Dusty Baker to form just the second pairing of a Black manager and general manager in MLB history. The first was general manager Ken Williams and manager Jerry Manuel with the White Sox.

Brown said he interviewed for GM jobs with the Mets and Mariners in the past and that MLB commissioner Rob Manfred told him to stay positive and that his time to be a general manager would come.

“It’s pretty special,” he said. “We understand that there are a lot of qualified African Americans in the game that know baseball and that could be a big part of an organization and leading organization in baseball operations. So at the end of the day, I think it’s good for our sport to have diversity and I’m really excited for this opportunity.”

Crane was asked about having the league’s only Black general manager.

“Certainly, we are very focused on diversity with the Astros,” he said. “It’s a plus, but the guy’s extremely qualified and he’ll do a great job. It’s nice to see a man like Dana get the job and he earned the job. He’s got the qualifications. He’s ready to go.”

Brown doesn’t have a lot of connections to the Astros, but does have some ties. He played baseball at Seton Hall with Hall of Famer Craig Biggio, who spent his entire career with the Astros and serves as special assistant to the general manager. He played against fellow Hall of Famer and special assistant to the general manager Jeff Bagwell in the Cape Cod league during a short minor league career.

Brown said he spoke to both of them before taking the job and also chatted with Baker, whom he’s know for some time.

“Dusty is old school, he cuts it straight and I like it,” Brown said. “And so that means I can cut it straight with him.”

Brown worked for the Blue Jays from 2010-18 as a special assistant to the general manager. From 2001-09 he worked as director of scouting for the Nationals/Expos. He began his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates, where he spent eight years as their area scouting supervisor and East coast cross checker.

Click had served as Houston’s general manager since joining the team before the 2020 season from the Tampa Bay Rays.

Brown, who has been part of drafting a number of big-name players like Stephen Strasburg, Ryan Zimmerman and last season’s National League rookie of the year Michael Harris, is ready to show Crane that bringing him to Houston was the right choice.

“Baseball is all I know, it’s my entire life,” he said. “So I want to empty myself into this city, the Astro fans and let Jim Crane know that he made a special pick.”