Astros fire Brandon Taubman

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The Houston Astros announced late this afternoon that they have fired Assistant General Manager Brandon Taubman.

In the statement announcing Taubman’s termination the team admitted that their initial denial of Taubman’s acts — an aggressive denial which cast Sports Illustrated reporter Stephanie Apstein’s report as “misleading and completely irresponsible” — was wrong, and offered a specific apology to Apstein. “We were wrong,” the team said, and confirmed that Taubman’s comments following last Saturday night’s ALCS victory were aimed at “one or more reporters.” Notably, they did not specifically say why they were apologizing to Apstein (i.e. that they accused her of fabricating the story). I guess they’re still trying to figure this out.

Those comments, you’ll recall, were “Thank god we got Osuna! I’m so [expletive] glad we got Osuna!” Referring to Astros reliever Roberto Osuna. They came after Taubman had reportedly made multiple complaints about the reporter taking issue with the Astros’ acquisition of Osuna in the wake of his domestic violence suspension last year. The Astros said “[Taubman’s] conduct does not reflect the values of our organization and we believe this is the most appropriate course of action.”

The fact that it took this long to get here — and, really, that even got this far at all — is quite remarkable.

If, in the wake of the incident being reported on Monday night, the Astros had simply said that they, as an organization, do not endorse the values reflected in the report and that they intended to investigate the matter, there’s a pretty good chance it dies down and Taubman keeps his job with, perhaps, a suspension or a fine.

The fact that the team, instead, lashed out at Apstein as it did placed a gigantic magnifying glass on the matter and made a heck of a lot more people pay attention to it than otherwise might have. When they did, it caused many to relitigate the acquisition of Osuna and the Astros’ comments around that time and to the present day. As late as today there even were articles being written scrutinizing the team’s owner, Jim Crane, and his past as well, casting a harsh light on virtually all aspects of the organization. Such a thing never would’ve happened if this had been merely about Taubman rather than the Astros and their bizarrely aggressive response on Monday.

And, to be sure, I don’t think this settles the matter completely. Who was behind that response on Monday night anyway? Who approved going after a reporter in an effort to ruin her career by accusing her of fabricating a story. I’ve read a lot of team statements in my time and I can tell you that that was not the sort of thing that would be casually issued by a mid-level media relations employee. Someone high up no doubt decided that the aggressive tack — and now, confirmed, false tack — was the best move. If it was someone other than Taubman, they too should be accountable. If it was Taubman, the question remains why the subject of a controversy was allowed to author the team’s response to the controversy.

But we are here and, thankfully, the Astros have finally done at least part of what they needed to do a couple of days ago: hold Taubman accountable for his conduct and apologize for the team’s conduct in falsely accusing a reporter of fabricating a story. However broadly and vaguely they did it.

Here is the team’s statement:

New bill to build Athletics stadium on Las Vegas Strip caps Nevada’s cost at $380 million

D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

CARSON CITY, Nev. — A bill introduced in the Nevada Legislature would give the Oakland Athletics up to $380 million for a potential 30,000 seat, $1.5 billion retractable roof stadium on the Las Vegas Strip.

The bulk of the public funding would come from $180 million in transferable tax credits from the state and $120 million in county bonds, which can vary based on interest rate returns. Clark County also would contribute $25 million in credit toward infrastructure costs.

The A’s have been looking for a home to replace Oakland Coliseum, where the team has played since arriving from Kansas City for the 1968 season. The team had sought to build a stadium in Fremont, San Jose and finally the Oakland waterfront, all ideas that never materialized.

The plan in the Nevada Legislature won’t directly raise taxes. It can move forward with a simply majority vote in the Senate and Assembly. Lawmakers have a little more than a week to consider the proposal before they adjourn June 5, though it could be voted on if a special session is called.

The Athletics have agreed to use land on the southern end of the Las Vegas Strip, where the Tropicana Las Vegas casino resort sits. Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao has said he is disappointed the team didn’t negotiate with Oakland as a “true partner.”

Las Vegas would be the fourth home for a franchise that started as the Philadelphia Athletics from 1901-54. It would become the smallest TV market in Major League Baseball and the smallest market to be home to three major professional sports franchises.

The team and Las Vegas are hoping to draw from the nearly 40 million tourists who visit the city annually to help fill the stadium. The 30,000-seat capacity would make it the smallest MLB stadium.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said a vote on the Oakland Athletics’ prospective move to Las Vegas could take place when owners meet June 13-15 in New York.

The plan faces an uncertain path in the Nevada Legislature. Democratic leaders said financing bills, including for the A’s, may not go through if Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo vetoes the five budget bills, which he has threatened to do as many of his priorities have stalled or faded in the Democratic-controlled Legislature.

Under the bill, the Clark County Board of Commissioners would create a homelessness prevention and assistance fund along the stadium’s area in coordination with MLB and the Nevada Resort Association. There, they would manage funds for services, including emergency rental and utility assistance, job training, rehabilitation and counseling services for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness.

The lease agreement with the Las Vegas Stadium Authority would be up for renewal after 30 years.

Nevada’s legislative leadership is reviewing the proposal, Democratic state Assembly Speaker Steve Yeager said in a statement.

“No commitment will be made until we have both evaluated the official proposal and received input from interested parties, including impacted community members,” Yeager said.