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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.”

Red Sox employees “livid” over team pay cut plan

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Even Drellich of The Athletic reports that the Boston Red Sox are cutting the pay of team employees. Those cuts, which began to be communicated last night, apply to all employees making $50,000 or more. They are tiered cuts, with people making $50-99,000 seeing salary cut by 20%, those making $100k-$499,000 seeing $25% cuts and those making $500,000 or more getting 30% cuts.

Drellich reported that a Red Sox employee told him that “people are livid” over the fact that those making $100K are being treated the same way as those making $500K. And, yes, that does seem to be a pretty wide spread for similar pay cuts. One would think that a team with as many analytically-oriented people on staff could perhaps break things down a bit more granularly.

Notable in all of this that the same folks who own the Red Sox — Fenway Sports Group — own Liverpool FC of the English Premier League, and that just last month Liverpool’s pay cut/employee furlough policies proved so unpopular that they led to a backlash and a subsequent reversal by the club. That came after intense criticism from Liverpool fan groups and local politicians. Sox owner John Henry must be confident that no such backlash will happen in Boston.

As we noted yesterday, The Kansas City Royals, who are not as financially successful as the Boston Red Sox, have not furloughed employees or cut pay as a result of baseball’s shutdown in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Perhaps someone in Boston could call the Royals and ask them how they managed that.