The Houston Astros May Be Trailing In The World Series, But With Assistant General Manager Brandon Taubman They Have A World Champion Ethics Dunce…[UPDATED]

‘Why am I smiling! Because I love our closer! He’s got a great fastball, and a great left cross! Aw, lighten up!’

What an idiot.

What an ethically clueless idiot.

The prelude: Last season, the Houston Astros, now embroiled in a World Series with the underdog Washington Nationals, embarrassed themselves by violating the team’s own stated domestic abuse policy by trading for closer Roberto Osuna from the Toronto Blue Jays. The 23-year-old Osuna had just completed a 75-game suspension from MLB for allegedly beating up his wife. The Blue Jays had announced that he would not be a member of their team going forward, despite the fact that he was regarded as one of the best late-inning relievers in the game. Even though the Astros had previously announced a “no-tolerance” policy toward domestic abusers, the team enthusiastically proclaimed their acquisition of Osuna, saying, among other hypocritical  and self-contradictory blather, that the team was “confident that Osuna is remorseful, has willfully complied with all consequences related to his past behavior, has proactively engaged in counseling, and will fully comply with our zero tolerance policy related to abuse of any kind.” At the time, I partially translated the ridiculous double-talk thusly:

…In the interest of winning and because the ends justify the means, we are suspending our “zero-tolerance” policy regarding “abuse of any kind” to tolerate a player whom Major League Baseball has determined to be a very serious abuser. I don’t know how we’re going to tell another player who is credibly accused of less serious abuse that we won’t tolerate his presence on the team when we just voluntarily brought an abuser onto the team, but never mind: there’s a pennant to win. I’m pretending that Roberto has complied with all consequences related to his past behavior when he is currently pleading not guilty in his pending Canadian trial on battery charges, in the hope that most fans aren’t paying attention.Thank you.”

The Astros are NOT the favorite team of feminists, #MeToo advocates, or anyone who does not appreciate the King’s Pass being given to men who slap women around.

The latest episode:  From Sports Illustrated:

More than an hour after José Altuve won the Astros the pennant [this past Saturday], the party in the Houston clubhouse still raged…And in the center of the room, assistant general manager Brandon Taubman turned to a group of three female reporters, including one wearing a purple domestic-violence awareness bracelet, and yelled, half a dozen times, “Thank God we got Osuna! I’m so fucking glad we got Osuna!”

The outburst was offensive and frightening enough that another Houston staffer apologized. The Astros declined to comment. They also declined to make Taubman available for an interview…Closer Roberto Osuna had allowed a two-run home run to tie the game in the top of the ninth. He had been, by Baseball Reference’s calculations and any intelligent observer’s assessment, the least valuable Astro that night. So why would Taubman choose that moment, to taunt that demographic? It’s not hard to figure out.

Osuna likely only pitches for Houston because he allegedly assaulted Alejandra Román Cota, the mother of his then-three-year-old child, in May 2018, as a member of the Blue Jays. Prosecutors dropped the charges after Cota returned to Mexico and declined to testify; as part of the bargain, Osuna agreed not to have contact with her for one year. MLB suspended him 75 games, a stretch that did not include the postseason. Osuna was one of the best closers in the game, and his infraction made him, in the mind of the Astros’ front office, a distressed asset. They traded for him, and in terms of traditional organizational capital, the price was low: the Astros gave up their own struggling closer and two middling pitching prospects for him….Many teams didn’t want to deal with the public backlash for acquiring Osuna. The Astros decided it was worth it. Since he got to Houston, Osuna has a 2.46 ERA and 50 saves. The Astros may win another World Series. But that doesn’t mean they get to decide when the backlash ends.

This is the miscalculation that teams make over and over again. They acquire players with reprehensible pasts for less than market rate and concede that they will have to pay a price in public trust. But when the bill comes due, teams act like they, not the people their actions wounded, are the aggrieved party. How dare you keep reminding us of the past? Don’t you understand we have baseball games to play?

And that’s the irony of that interaction with Taubman. None of those women were talking to him. They weren’t even talking about Osuna. Taubman brought him up…the Astros’ front office acts as if it is tired of being yelled at about this subject. They want to be allowed to play their baseball games and pop their champagne without being forced to think about anything that happened away from the ballpark.

The aftermath: The author was Sports Illustrated’s Stephanie Apstein, one of the three distaff reporters targeted in Taubman’s tirade. Taubman’s outburst was a ringing endorsement, again, of The King’s Pass and the flawed ethical principle that the ends justifies the means. It also was a gratuitous and nasty trolling of the potential victims of exactly the misconduct that Osuna had almost certainly engaged in. Female reporters are too frequently harassed in baseball clubhouses, and this wasn’t even a borderline example. Why would Taubman do such a thing? Was he drunk? Is he a jerk? Both, in all likelihood…and he is beyond question an Ethics Dunce. He proved it with a World Champion unethical apology after it was clear that the criticism over his spontaneous endorsement of hiring domestic abusers would intensify and not recede into insignificance.

First, the Astros issued a self-indicting statement acknowledging Taubman’s clubhouse comments, but adding that it was “extremely disappointed in Sports Illustrated’s attempt to fabricate a story where one does not exist.’’ I guess that would mean that I’m fabricating an ethics story too.

Finally, Taubman issued his “apology,” a bottom of the barrel, Level 10 non-apology apology. I’ll highlight the lowlights:

“This past Saturday, during our clubhouse celebration, I used inappropriate language for which I am deeply sorry and embarrassed. In retrospect, I realized that my comments were unprofessional and inappropriate. My overexuberance in support of a player has been misinterpreted as a demonstration of a regressive attitude about an important social issue. Those that know me know that I am a progressive and charitable member of the community, and a loving and committed husband and father. I hope that those who do not know me understand that the Sports Illustrated article does not reflect who I am or my values. I am sorry if anyone was offended by my actions.”

Wow. That’s horrible even for a #10. Eight unethical dodges in a single paragraph…this guy should write apologies for Harvey Weinstein and Joe Biden. Maybe he does.

Let’s be specific:

  • “I used inappropriate language for which I am deeply sorry and embarrassed.”

A deflection and a straw man. He’s apologizing for saying “fucking,” and nobody criticized him for that.  “I’m sorry that my locker room language in the locker room offended the ladies.”  He’s being sexist while supposedly apologizing for sexism.

  • “In retrospect, I realized that my comments were unprofessional and inappropriate.”

No, his comments were hostile, demonstrated ethics blindness, and wrong.  Again, Taubman is trying to deflect attention to his use of vulgar language.

  • My overexuberance in support of a player…

This is a lie. Osuna had almost blown the game by giving up a two-run, tying homer in the 9th. It was no time to be proclaiming the value of that player, to that audience. Taubman was justifying the organization’s  2018 acquisition that was condemned by those reporters (and others) because the Astros had won the pennant.

  • “…has been misinterpreted as a demonstration of a regressive attitude about an important social issue.”

It was correctly interpreted, and “regressive attitude about an important social issue” is a deceptive euphemism for “trivializing  the  crime of domestic violence.”

  • “Those that know me know that I am a progressive…”

Here comes the virtue signaling, and a more nauseating example of it would be hard to find. To begin with, there’s nothing virtuous about a political alignment, and progressives demonstrate how hypocritical and “regressive” they are hourly. It’s regressive to want to ban speech, for example.

  • “…and charitable member of the community, and a loving and committed husband and father.””

The Ruddigore Fallacy! “I make up for all the bad things I do by doing good things! I don’t beat up MY wife, so that should cancel out my support for men who do!”

  • “I hope that those who do not know me understand that the Sports Illustrated article does not reflect who I am or my values.”

AND THE PAZUZU EXCUSE! I don’t think I’ve ever seen both the Ruddigore Fallacy and Pazuzu in the same faux-apology. From Mel Gibson to Michael Richards to Helen Thomas to the woman who posted photos of herself mocking the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, “It wasn’t really me doing and saying the awful things I did and said” remains an insulting tactic of those caught reveling their true character.

  • I am sorry if anyone was offended by my actions.”

DINGDINDINGDING! The res ipsa loquitur of the fake apology!

The conclusion:

Go Nationals.

UPDATE: The Astros fired him. Too bad they defended him first.

9 thoughts on “The Houston Astros May Be Trailing In The World Series, But With Assistant General Manager Brandon Taubman They Have A World Champion Ethics Dunce…[UPDATED]

    • I have a feeling that the Astros will prevail. All of the cases where a team came back to win after losing the first two games at home were clearly better than their opposition, and Houston is a much sounder team than D.C. I can easily see them seeping the Nats, who have won 18 out of 20 now. Regression to the mean is inevitable.

        • I have vowed not to even watch Game 3, or any subsequent 2019 World Series game, “unless and until.” The Astros will have to win at least once while I am not looking, before I watch them again. This is a practice I have followed since the regular season of 2013, at various times when the team was either on a losing streak, or had been particularly humiliated in a given game: resume watching the Astros play ONLY after they have won AT LEAST one game.

    • I wonder what Taubman’s next job will be. If ever he is employed again. His kind of crazy-talk would make him unqualified for hiring to work in MY food truck…

  1. Taubman’s won’t be the last firing in the Astros organization in the wake of his crazy-talk. No matter what the Astros do from hereon in follow-up to firing Taubman, it will never be enough. To borrow a part of a line from an old Boston song, “Emotions can’t be satisfied.”

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