Astros Executive Criticized for ‘Frightening’ Outburst at Female Reporters

HOUSTON — A Houston Astros executive shouted at three female reporters in what Sports Illustrated called an “offensive and frightening” manner as he praised the team’s closer Roberto Osuna, who had been suspended for domestic violence last year, after the team’s playoff victory on Saturday night.

In the Astros clubhouse after the game on Saturday, Brandon Taubman, Houston’s assistant general manager, turned to the reporters and yelled repeatedly, “Thank God we got Osuna! I’m so glad we got Osuna!,” punctuating the second sentence with an expletive, according to a Sports Illustrated column published Monday. The Astros have been heavily criticized for acquiring Osuna last season while he was serving a 75-game suspension for domestic violence.

In a statement, the Astros disputed Sports Illustrated’s story, calling it “completely irresponsible,” and said that Taubman was commenting only on what had happened in the game and was “supporting the player during a difficult time.”

Osuna had a poor outing Saturday, giving up a home run and blowing the save in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series against the Yankees — though he ultimately was credited with the win after Jose Altuve’s pennant-winning homer in the bottom of the ninth.

However, video of at least one postgame interview shows Osuna in a buoyant mood in the celebration, which was so raucous that players told reporters the team had run out of beer. Multiple reporters from other news outlets — including Yahoo Sports and the Houston Chronicle — said on Twitter that they had witnessed Taubman’s behavior and corroborated the Sports Illustrated account, and a Chronicle article said that no interviews were being conducted during the time of the outburst.

Osuna, an All-Star for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2017, became available on the trade market in 2018 — at a reduced price — because of his suspension. Jeff Luhnow, the Astros’ general manager, told The New York Times last October that he and the team owner, Jim Crane, expected to be criticized for acquiring him, but that they had done extensive background work on Osuna.

“I knew there would be some consequences of making the move, but I didn’t want to not make the move just because of that,” Luhnow said at the time. “I was willing to take that on personally, and Jim and I agreed we were willing to have the organization take it on, subject to us doing our homework as best we could and feeling comfortable with the situation and the potential outcomes.”

“Did we take a risk?” he added. “No question. Are there people that are still upset about it? No question. We’re doing whatever we can at this point, supporting the relevant causes.”

The Astros donated $214,000 last year to complete a women’s center for Family Services of Southeast Texas, and have participated in other initiatives and programs related to domestic violence prevention.

Charges against Osuna were withdrawn in September 2018 after the alleged victim — the mother of his child — declined to travel to Toronto from Mexico and testify against him. Osuna agreed to stay away from the woman for a year and continue counseling.

But the clubhouse incident Saturday thrust the issue back to the forefront, and the Astros’ explanation will seemingly do little, if anything, to temper the backlash.