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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.”

Rays’ Erik Neander named Executive of the Year

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At the GM meetings in Scottsdale, Arizona on Monday, Rays GM Erik Neander was named the recipient of Major League Baseball’s Executive of the Year Award for the 2019 season. The Yankees’ Brian Cashman was the runner-up while the Athletics’ Billy Beane and the Twins’ Derek Falvey tied for third place.

Neander has worked for the Rays since 2017 but has operated in his current role since November 2016, taking over for Matthew Silverman who was promoted to president of the Rays alongside Brian Auld.

The Rays had, by far, the lowest payroll in baseball at $53.5 million, according to USA TODAY. Neander’s peers voting him Executive of the Year on the same today the league had to curtail its awarding of a prize belt to the team that suppressed salaries the most in arbitration is… certainly interesting timing.

At any rate, Neander’s Rays went 96-66 in 2019, finishing in second place in the AL East behind the 103-59 Yankees. The Rays claimed the second AL Wild Card and defeated the A’s to earn entry into the ALDS where they lost in five games to the Astros. It was the Rays’ first playoff appearance since 2013 and their regular season win total was second-most in franchise history behind the 2008 team (97).