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Bryce Harper has best-selling jersey of 2019

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Players may think Bryce Harper is “the most overrated” guy in baseball, but fans don’t think that way. At least the ones in Philly whose great enthusiasm for their new outfielder has pushed his jersey sales to the top of the charts. That’s according to Major League Baseball which just released the top-selling jerseys in baseball since the first of the year, with Harper in the number one position.

Following Harper is Aaron Judge, who had the top-selling jersey in 2018. Then comes Mookie Betts, Mike Trout and, somewhat surprisingly to me anyway, Yadier Molina. After all of these years you’d figure that every Cards fan who wanted a Molina jersey had gotten one already, but I guess the classics never go out of style. Have to figure Paul Goldschmidt is gonna surge up from number 11 and pass him this season, but who knows?

Here’s the whole top-20:

1. Bryce Harper, Philadelphia Phillies

2. Aaron Judge, New York Yankees

3. Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox

4. Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels

5. Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals

6. Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers

7. Javier Báez, Chicago Cubs

8. Christian Yelich, Milwaukee Brewers

9. Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs

10. Ronald Acuña Jr., Atlanta Braves

11. Paul Goldschmidt, St. Louis Cardinals

12. Manny Machado, San Diego Padres

13. Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle Mariners

14. Cody Bellinger, Los Angeles Dodgers

15. Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs

16. Jose Altuve, Houston Astros

17. Alex Bregman, Houston Astros

18. Andrew Benintendi, Boston Red Sox

19. Giancarlo Stanton, New York Yankees

20. Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves

The Astros continue to refuse to take responsibility for the Taubman Affair

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I’m calling it the “Taubman Affair” because writing “the incident in which a top front office executive — Astros Assistant General Manager Brandon Taubman — taunted a reporter for her past opposition to the team acquiring a domestic abuser, after which the team lied, aggressively about it, accusing another reporter of fabricating a story, then admitted that they lied but made no apology for smearing the reporter” is too unwieldy for a headline.

If you need catching up on it, though, you can read this, this or this.

The latest on it all: yesterday, after walking back their angry denial that the incident ever occurred and admitting that, yes, Taubman did in fact gleefully and profanely target a reporter for taunting, the team basically went silent and let Game 1 unfold.

Today General Manager Jeff Luhnow went on a team-friendly radio station (i.e. the station that broadcasts Astros games). In the entire segment he was asked only one question about it: “Your thoughts on the SI article, Jeff.” Luhnow said that he would withhold comment, but apologized to “everybody involved,” including the fans and the players, saying “this situation should have never happened.” You can listen to the entire segment here.

He did not, however, make any specific mention of what “this situation” was. Nor did he acknowledge that, actually, it’s at least two “situations:” (1) the initial behavior of Taubman; and (2) Monday night’s team-sanctioned attack of Sports Illustrated’s Stephanie Apstein, who reported it. Indeed, at no time in the team’s now multiple comments has anyone acknowledged that, as an organization, the Houston Astros’s first impulse in all of this was to attempt to bully and discredit a reporter for what has now been established as a truthful report to which the Astros have admitted. And they certainly have not voiced any specific regret or offered any form of accountability for it.

Major League Baseball is apparently investigating Taubman’s conduct. But it is not, presumably, investigating the Astros’ disingenuous smear of Apstein. A smear that the Astros likely undertook because they figured they could intimidate Apstein and, what may even be worse, because they assumed that the rest of the press — many of whom were witnesses to Taubman’s act — would go along or remain silent. If they did not think that, of course, releasing the statement they did would’ve been nonsensical. It speaks of an organization that believes it can either bully or manipulate the media into doing its bidding or covering for the teams’ transgressions. That part of this has gone wholly uncommented on by the Astros and apparently will for the foreseeable future. No matter how this shakes out for Taubman, if the Astros do not talk about how and why they decided to baselessly attack Apstein on Monday night, nothing they ever say should be trusted again.

More broadly, everything the Astros are doing now is the same as when they traded for Roberto Osuna in the first place.

In 2018 they wanted to do an unpopular thing — arbitrage a player’s domestic violence suspension into the acquisition of cheap relief help — while wanting to appear as though they were good actors who had a “zero tolerance for domestic violence” policy. To solve that problem they shoveled a lot of malarkey about how “zero tolerance” actually includes a fair amount of tolerance and hoped that everyone would go along. When not everyone did — when fans brought signs of protest to the ballpark or expressed their displeasure with Osuna’s presence on the roster — they confiscated them then hoped it’d all blow over and, eventually, via Taubman’s rant on Saturday night, lashed out at their critics.

Here, again, they want to do something unpopular: retain a boorish and insensitive executive in Taubman without him or the team suffering any consequences for it, be they actual consequences or mere P.R. fallout. Again, it’s kind of hard to pull that off, so to do so they falsely accused a reporter of lying and then circled the wagons when they caught heat for it.

I have no idea how long they plan to keep this up. Maybe they are calculating that people will forget and that forgetting is the same as forgiveness. Maybe they simply don’t care. All I do know is that folks will be teaching the Astros’ response to all of this as a counterexample in crisis management courses for years.