The buck stops nowhere with Houston Astros

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The Astros have, by my count, made five attempts before today to address the Brandon Taubman controversy and they’ve failed to adequately address it all five times.

To review:

  • First they declined comment when approached by Sports Illustrated before the original publication of the Taubman story which was published on Monday;
  • Then, Monday night, after the story was published, they lashed out, falsely accusing Sports Illustrated reporter Stephanie Apstein of fabricating her story;
  • The next day, when they realized that there were multiple witnesses corroborating Apstein’s story, they backtracked, with two “sorry if we offended anyone” apologies that did not specifically address either Taubman’s behavior or the smear on Apstein. Nor did they, for that matter, constitute actual apologies given the hypothetical framing;
  • Then they fired Taubman which, OK, we’ll accept that as a response to his initial behavior, but then they released a blanket statement saying “we got it wrong” without explaining who the “we” was or the “it” was, leaving the matter of the team statement which smeared Apstein wide open; finally
  • Jeff Luhnow appeared before the media last night saying he and many others saw the Monday night statement attacking Apstein’s credibility before it went out, failed to say who, if anyone, would be held accountable for the smear and noting that he had been too busy and had yet to apologize to Apstein in person despite the fact that Apstein was literally sitting in front of him in the press conference.

Earlier this afternoon Evan Drellich’s report at The Athletic touched on another high-ranking Astros employee who likely participated in Monday night’s statement — Anita Sehgal, the team’s senior vice president of marketing and communications — whose name we had not heard in all of this before. Suggesting that, yep, a lot of very senior Astros people, including Jeff Luhnow, were part of the attempted smear-job on Apstein.

Given that, you’d think that someone — anyone — would offer an accounting of that beyond “we got it wrong” and an apology which specifically owns up to exactly what they did and which shows that they appreciate the seriousness of it all.

Maybe the team’s owner, Jim Crane?


Well, you can’t fault them for a lack of consistency.

At this point it’s clear that the buck stops nowhere in Houston. It’s also clear that, going forward, there is no reason whatsoever to take the team’s official statements at face value because, like the Monday night statement, they could very well be lies with ulterior motives. And, if they are, no one will be held accountable for them. If they’re caught they’ll just try to moonwalk away from it like nothing happened.

If not, hey, they got one over on you, didn’t they?

UPDATE: This is now beyond parody:

Orioles sign OF Aaron Hicks, put Cedric Mullins on 10-day IL with groin strain

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

BALTIMORE — The Baltimore Orioles signed outfielder Aaron Hicks less than 24 hours after Cedric Mullins went down with a strained right groin.

Mullins went on the 10-day injured list, but the Orioles are hoping Hicks can help defensively in the spacious outfield at Camden Yards. Hicks was released last week by the New York Yankees with more than 2 1/2 seasons left on his contract.

“We had noticed that he was a free agent even before the injury,” Orioles general manager Mike Elias said. “When the injury occurred and it became pretty clear this was going to be an IL, it seemed like a good fit even more so at that time.”

The Orioles are responsible for paying Hicks just $483,871, a prorated share of the $720,000 minimum salary. The Yankees owe him the rest of his $10.5 million salary this year, plus $9.5 million in each of the next two seasons and a $1 million buyout of a 2026 team option.

The 33-year-old Hicks hit just .188 in 28 games for the Yankees this year.

“We have stuff that we look at from a scouting and evaluation perspective,” Elias said. “It’s very different from just looking at the back of a baseball card, and we hope that we get a bounceback from anyone we bring here.”

Hicks batted .216 last season.

“Hopefully that’s a good thing for him,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said of the Baltimore deal. “A lot of time here and a lot of good things happened for him here. I know the last couple of years have been a struggle. But hopefully it’s a good opportunity for him and certainly wish him well. Not too well being in our division and a team we’re chasing, but hopefully it’s a really good fit for him.”

Mullins left a loss to Cleveland after he pulled up while running out an infield grounder. Outfielder Colton Cowser – the fifth pick in the draft two years ago – is hitting .331 at Triple-A Norfolk, but he went on the IL in the past couple weeks.

“Certainly he was building a case towards promotion consideration prior to his injury and prior to Cedric’s injury,” Elias said. “We’ll just see where we’re at.”

Hicks was active for the game but not in the starting lineup. Austin Hays, normally Baltimore’s left field, was in Mullins’ usual spot in center.

When the wall in left at Camden Yards was pushed significantly back before last season, it made left field a bigger challenge defensively.

“In this park … you really need two center fielders,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “Aaron’s got a lot of center-field experience. Played left field here before also. Brings the defensive aspect and then the switch-hitting.”