Sports Illustrated reporter Stephanie Apstein found herself at the center of the story after the owner of the Houston Astros publicly questioned her professionalism following her damning report of a team staff member, and now the team’s owner is apologizing for doing so.
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Moments after the Astros defeated the New York Yankees to win the 2019 American League pennant, Apstein and two other female reporters, one of which was wearing a purple domestic-violence awareness bracelet, were in the Astros clubhouse when she reported that assistant general manager Brandon Taubman entered the celebratory fray.
“Thank God we got Osuna! I’m so f------ glad we got Osuna!” Apstein reported Taubman as saying towards the three women upon noticing the purple bracelet.
Astros pitcher Roberto Osuna didn’t have much of an impact against the New York Yankees during Game Six on October 19. In fact, the closer actually let a two-run home run in the top of the ninth to tie the game.
Osuna was arrested in Toronto, where he played for the Blue Jays before being traded to Houston, after assaulting the mother of his child back last year, and Apstein’s reporting of Taubman’s words caused quite the uproar.
The Astros initially denied their assistant GM said such an insensitive and pointless comment, claiming Taubman was simply ‘supporting the player during a difficult time,’ according to Apstein’s report.
The Astros released in a statement on Monday, calling Apstein’s professionalism into question.
"The story posted by Sports Illustrated is misleading and completely irresponsible," the statement read. "An Astros player was being asked questions about a difficult outing. Our executive was supporting the player during a difficult time. His comments had everything to do with the game situation that just occurred and nothing else -- they were also not directed toward any specific reporters. We are extremely disappointed in Sports Illustrated's attempt to fabricate a story where one does not exist."
But then Yahoo Sports' Hannah Keyser, who was amongst the other two female reports alongside Apstein during Taubman’s career-ending outburst, corroborated her story, forcing owner and chairman Jim Crane’s hand in admitting the SI reporter was indeed correct in her reporting.
“Astros owner Jim Crane sent me a letter on Saturday retracting the team’s original statement about my story. ‘We were wrong,’” Apstein tweeted on Sunday, along with the letter from Crane.
“Stephanie, on behalf of the entire Astros organization, I want to personally apologize for the statement we issued on Monday October 21st. We were wrong and I am sorry that we initially questioned your professionalism. We retract that statement, and I assure you that the Houston Astros will learn from this experience. Sincere regards, Jim Crane - Owner and Chairman – Houston Astros,” the brief letter read.
The Astros officially fired Taubman on Wednesday, ESPN reported.
The 24-year-old relief pitcher signed a one year, $10,200,000 contract with the Houston Astros, including $10,200,000 guaranteed, and an annual average salary of $10,200,000. In 2020, Osuna will earn a base salary of $10,200,000, while carrying a total salary of $10,200,000, according to Spotrac.com.
Jim Crane and a group of investors purchased the team back in 2011 for a reported price of $680 million, however the previous Astros ownership and MLB officials collaborated to reduce Crane’s purchase price by $70 million, with each side covering $35 million, making the discounted price $610 million.