Astros still must offer retraction, apology to Stephanie Apstein

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Late last night, Stephanie Apstein of Sports Illustrated reported that assistant GM Brandon Taubman targeted a group of female journalists, yelling, “I’m so glad we got [Roberto] Osuna!” — the Astros’ closer who was suspended by Major League Baseball last year after being arrested in an alleged domestic violence incident — after the club walked off in the bottom of the ninth inning of ALCS Game 6 against the Yankees to advance into the World Series. Apstein’s report was corroborated by several other journalists including Hunter Atkins of the Houston Chronicle, Hannah Keyser of Yahoo Sports, as well as two anonymous sources that spoke to The Athletic’s Jake Kaplan. Furthermore, dozens of journalists vouched for Apstein’s credibility and reporting skills.

Apstein offered the Astros the opportunity to comment before publishing her report, but the team declined. Once Sports Illustrated published the report, the Astros responded angrily, putting out a public statement in which they called Apstein’s reporting “misleading and completely irresponsible.” The Astros falsely claimed that “an Astros player was being asked questions about a difficult outing” and said that “our executive was supporting the player during a difficult time.” The statement ended with the organization expressing disappointment that SI would “attempt to fabricate a story where one does not exist.”

Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle reported that, according to two eyewitnesses who were present during the postgame celebration, Taubman was “holding a cigar and standing with two or three other men when he yelled his comments.” Furthermore, there were no players in the area and no interviews were being conducted, which directly contradicts the Astros’ claim.

NPR’s David Folkenflik reports that Taubman was indeed targeting the group of female journalists, one of whom was wearing a purple bracelet in support of domestic violence awareness. He was aware of her tweets about domestic violence and complained about them last year.

To further add to this background, before Taubman worked for the Astros, he worked for Ernst and Young, a multinational professional services firm. Ernst and Young was the subject of a Huffington Post report published yesterday in which it was revealed that women who worked for E&Y were instructed on how to dress and act nicely around men. The behavior of Taubman, having come from a sexist business culture, is even less surprising in that context.

Astros owner and chairman Jim Crane offered a statement on Tuesday which still did not offer an apology on behalf of the organization. Taubman did apologize, saying, “This past Saturday, during our clubhouse celebration, I used inappropriate language for which I am deeply sorry and embarrassed.” Sadly, Tabuman’s statement continued which only served to diminish said apology.

Manager A.J. Hinch, put in a nearly unwinnable position by his team’s bumbling front office and P.R. department, spoke to the press on Tuesday to address the issue. He said, “It’s unfortunate, it’s uncalled for. I take everything that happens in the clubhouse to heart. I think we all need to be better across the board, in the industry.”

Here’s where we’re at: Apstein’s report has not only been vouched for by other journalists who were there and eyewitnesses, but Taubman himself admitted to the reported behavior. Thus, it is absolutely true that the Astros lied. They smeared Apstein by calling her reporting “misleading and completely irresponsible” and accused her of trying to “fabricate a story.” They have not retracted their misleading statement nor publicly apologized to Apstein and Sports Illustrated. They must do so. That is the bare minimum requirement and they have yet to meet it.

The Baseball Writers Association of America issued a statement saying that the organization “is alarmed and dismayed by the actions of the Houston Astros and their public relations department in reaction to Sports Illustrated’s report.” The BBWAA insisted on “a public apology to the media outlets involved — particularly Stephanie Apstein, Sports Illustrated, and the BBWAA — should be forthcoming from the Astros, Jim Crane, Anita Sehgal, Gene Dias, and Brandon Taubman.” Sehgal is the Astros’ senior vice president of marketing and communications. Dias is the Astros’ vice president of media relations.

If the Astros aren’t held to account for their nefarious treatment of the press, it will only embolden other teams to act similarly to avoid accountability themselves. It will begin a breakdown of the relationship between teams and the media. That would be immeasurably bad for the sport, but it would be great for the Wall Street and Ivy League types multiplying in front offices across baseball to spread their “profit at all costs” gospel. A schism would justify, to them, their already-established mistrust of the media and a subsequent blacking out. The Astros already tried it this year. Let’s not give 29 other billion-dollar businesses under an antitrust exemption the power to do the same.

McCutchen’s sacrifice fly lifts Pirates to 5-4 win, extends Athletics’ road losing streak to 15

Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports
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PITTSBURGH – Andrew McCutchen’s tiebreaking sacrifice fly in the eighth inning lifted Pittsburgh to a 5-4 victory over Oakland on Monday night, extending the Pirates’ win streak to six games and sending the Athletics to their record-tying 15th consecutive road loss.

The 15 straight defeats away from home matches the Athletics’ record since they moved from Kansas City in 1968. Oakland set that mark in 1986.

The major league-worst Athletics (12-50) have lost five games in a row overall. They are on pace to finish the season exactly 100 games under .500 at 31-131.

“It’s tough,” Athletics manager Mark Kotsay said. “Tonight’s game, we didn’t play well enough to win the game. I don’t want to say we gave the game away but there were a lot of instances where we had a chance to capitalize on opportunities and didn’t do it.”

McCutchen also singled and drew three walks to go with two RBIs. The 2013 NL MVP now has 1,998 career hits.

With the score tied at 4, Ji Hwan Bae led off the decisive eighth inning with a single off Sam Moll (0-3) and advanced to third on Austin Hedges’ one-out single. McCutchen’s sac fly plated Bae.

“I was just trying to get the job done. I understand the situation there,” McCutchen said. “We just need to get the run. I was trying to bear down against a hard thrower and trying to get that run in as much as I can, and I was able to do it and have a good at-bat.”

Angel Perdomo (1-0) retired both hitters he faced. and Colin Holdeman pitched a scoreless ninth inning for his first career save. It was an eventful inning for Holderman as the first three batters reached base, but he struck out Carlos Perez with runners on the corners to end it.

“I began my career as a starting pitcher in the minor leagues but ever since I was switched to relief, this has been the goal, to get a save in the big leagues,” Holderman said.

Pittsburgh starter Johan Oviedo gave up three runs and four hits with five strikeouts and two walks.

Oakland left-hander JP Sears did not allow a hit until Mark Mathias’ leadoff single in the fifth but was unable to make it through the inning. Sears was charged with one run in 4 2/3 innings while allowing two hits, walking five and striking out six.

Sears has not allowed more than two runs in five consecutive starts. His nine no-decisions are the most in the major leagues.

Ryan Noda and Brent Rooker had two hits each for the Athletics.

The Athletics tied the score at 4-4 in the eighth inning on pinch-hitter Aledmys Diaz’s run-scoring double. Oakland left the bases loaded, though, when Nick Allen hit an inning-ending flyout.

Consecutive bases-loaded walks keyed a three-run sixth inning that put the Pirates 4-3. McCutchen and Bryan Reynolds each worked bases on balls off Shintaro Fujinami to tie the score at 3-all and pinch-hitter Jack Suwinski followed with a sacrifice fly.

The Athletics opened the scoring in the first inning when rookie Esteury Ruiz reached on catcher’s interference, stole his MLB-leading 30th base of the season and scored on Noda’s single. Seth Brown doubled in a run in the third and came home on Perez’s sacrifice fly to push Oakland’s lead to 3-0.

Connor Joe hit an RBI double for the Pirates in the fifth.

The Pirates drew 10 walks, their most in a game in nearly two years.

“We had a bunch of opportunities that we didn’t capitalize (on), but the thing I think I was most proud of is we got down and we didn’t rush to get back,” Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said. “We were still patient.”


Athletics: LHP Kirby Snead (strained shoulder) is expected to pitch in the Arizona Complex League on Tuesday, which will be his first game action since spring training. … RHP Freddy Tarnok (strained shoulder) will throw a bullpen on Tuesday.


Pirates catching prospect Henry Davis was promoted to Triple-A Indianapolis from Double-A Altoona. In 41 games at Double-A this season, the 23-year-old hit .284 with 10 home runs and seven stolen bases.

“He was performing offensively at a level where we felt like he was more than ready to meet the challenges,” Pirates general manager Ben Cherington said. “He improved as an offensive player even since spring training, focusing on the things we were challenging him on. Defensively, he’s made strides too.”

Davis was the first overall selection in the 2021 amateur draft from the University of Louisville.


Athletics RHP James Kaprielian (0-6, 8.12 ERA) will make his first start in June after taking the loss in all four starts in May and face RHP Mitch Keller (7-1, 3.25). Keller has eight or more strikeouts in seven consecutive starts, the longest streak by a Pirates pitcher in the modern era (since 1901).