The Houston Astros have finally retracted their statement which claimed that Sports Illustrated’s Stephanie Apstein was “fabricating” her story about former assistant GM Brandon Taubman yelling “Thank God we got Osuna! I’m so fucking glad we got Osuna!” at a group of female reporters after the team’s Game 6 ALCS win over the Yankees. Closer Roberto Osuna—who was suspended for 75 games last season for violating Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy—had just blown the game in the top of the ninth inning before Jose Altuvé won it in the bottom. The retraction came in a letter from Astros owner Jim Crane addressed directly to Apstein.
The statement comes six days after the franchise called Apstein’s story “misleading and completely irresponsible,” five days after the ballclub tried to walk those statements back—with Taubman pulling the tried and true “committed husband and father” card—and three days after the organization finally fired Taubman once an MLB investigation corroborated what Apstein originally reported. Not the most ideal timing for an apology about something as big as accusing a journalist of making shit up.
As always, just as important as what the letter included is what was left off. The Astros continue to make no mention of the culture that caused the initial smearing statement to be released, along with subsequent soft apologies, and what they plan to do to change that. It also still seems that everyone involved with this debacle besides Brandon Taubman will remain with the organization going forward. Combine that with the fact that Astros GM Jeff Luhnow said, “This is not something that’s endemic. This is not a cultural issue,” and it seems that the organization is committed to just outright denying the reality of the harm this culture caused, and will continue to cause.
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Update: Senior vice president of marketing and communications Anita Sehgal spoke to reporters prior to Game 5, according to the Houston Chronicle. Here’s what she had to say:
“This statement really is owned by the entire organization,” Sehgal said. “This team needs to wear this statement. We screwed up. And we’re going to own it as a team. We’re going to share responsibility for it and we’re not going to point fingers at any one person. We’re going to own it as a team. And that’s the right decision.”
“When we do things really well, we do them really well,” Sehgal said. “When we’re successful, we do things really well. Clearly when we make mistakes, we do that really well, as well.
“I feel like we’ve learned a lot from this. I feel the next time a statement has to be written, I feel like this situation is going to be top of mind for everyone before we craft a statement. I feel very confident we’re not going to make this mistake again.”