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Astros owner Crane apologizes to SI reporter

Jim Crane, owner of Major League Baseball’s Houston Astros, formally apologized over the weekend to Sports Illustrated reporter Stephanie Apstein, whose accurate report of a clubhouse taunting incident by the club’s assistant general manager was at the center of a weeklong firestorm surrounding the World Series.

Crane, in a letter written to Apstein, retracted a statement from Oct. 21 that had branded her taunting story about Brandon Taubman “misleading and completely irresponsible.” Taubman was fired last week after he repeatedly yelled “Thank god we got Osuna! I’m so f—ing glad we got Osuna!” in the direction of several female reporters.

Taubman was referring to Astros relief pitcher Roberto Osuna, who last year served a 75-game suspension for violating MLB’s domestic violence policy. The controversy was then heightened after the Astros angrily tried to discredit Apstein, only to have Taubman later admit his actions.

“We were wrong and I am sorry that we initially questioned your professionalism,” Crane wrote. “We retract that statement, and I assure you that the Houston Astros will learn from this experience.”

The saga, however, is not over, as MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said prior to Game 3 of the World Series that there will be more league-level investigation into the incident following the conclusion of the World Series. Manfred did not rule out the possibility of more discipline being levied upon the club. 

There are “aspects of this that go beyond the [Taubman] incident,” Manfred said. “There are other things we want to talk to the Astros about. I would say that there are a variety of issues. I’m not going to narrow it to the statement [the Astros released improperly condemning a Sports Illustrated story about the incident]. We’re going to continue to review the situation and have conversations. It’s one thing to come and investigate, in 24 hours, a specific incident. This will take a little more time.”

US President Donald Trump, meanwhile, made a low-key appearance at Game 5 of the World Series on October 27. He arrived just before first pitch, in a move designed to ease some of the security impact on attending fans, and watched the game from a Nationals Park luxury box. He did not throw out the first pitch, as has been customary for presidents attending MLB jewel events. 

Trump was shown briefly on the ballpark scoreboard prior to the fourth inning, and was booed loudly by the attending fans. The reaction was not surprising in the heavily Democratic District of Columbia where won just four percent of the vote in 2016.

The day before, Manfred was part of a golfing foursome that included Trump and Republican US Senators Lindsey Graham and David Perdue.