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Astros retract statement, apologize to Stephanie Apstein

Tampa Bay Rays v Houston Astros

HOUSTON, TX - JUNE 18: Jim Crane, owner and chairman of the Houston Astros, left, shakes hands with Jeff Luhnow after announcing that Luhnow, who has been named President of Baseball Operations and General Manager, received a contract extension that carries through the 2023 season during a press conference at at Minute Maid Park on June 18, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

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The Brandon Taubman saga has finally, mercifully come to a conclusion as Astros owner Jim Crane personally issued an apology to Sports Illustrated reporter Stephanie Apstein and retracted the club’s statement which impugned her credibility. Crane’s letter to Apstein read, “On behalf of the 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.”

The saga began when the Astros walked off against the Yankees to clinch a World Series berth thanks to José Altuve’s two-run home run. Closer Roberto Osuna had blown a save opportunity the half-inning prior, serving up a two-run homer to DJ LeMahieu. In the post-game celebration, Apstein reported that assistant GM Brandon Taubman targeted a group of three female reporters, one of which was wearing a purple bracelet for domestic violence awareness, yelling, “Thank God we got Osuna!”. Osuna was arrested in Toronto last year and charged with assault against the mother of his son. The Astros acquired Osuna from the Blue Jays two and a half months later, just ahead of the trade deadline.

The Astros responded to Apstein’s report by calling it “misleading and completely irresponsible,” and accused Sports Illustrated of attempting to “fabricate a story where one does not exist.” However, Apstein’s story was vouched for by several other journalists. Taubman himself even admitted the story was true. He was fired shortly thereafter, but it took almost a full week for the club to issue a retraction and an apology to Apstein and Sports Illustrated.

Crane claims the Astros “will learn from this experience.” Nothing the club has done since Jeff Luhnow took over suggests the organization should get the benefit of the doubt, but any improvement in behavior will be welcome.

In the meantime, the Astros are looking ahead to Game 5 of the World Series, which is now Max Scherzer-less.

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