MLB should improve domestic violence policy

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The longest season in American sports has come to an end, but that doesn’t mean the headlines have. Some are speculative: one, for example, attempts to explain why Houston Astros manager AJ Hinch chose not to bring in pitcher Gerrit Cole — the best pitcher in baseball — in the final game of the World Series, a choice that would eventually lead to the Astros losing to the Washington Nationals. Others are celebratory, pointing out achievements like the substantial playoff success of Nationals’ outfielder Juan Soto, who turned 21 in the middle of the World Series. However, one headline that cannot be lost in the tumult of the season’s end involves Astros closer Roberto Osuna and former assistant general manager Brandon Taubman.

Osuna was arrested for assaulting his then-girlfriend Alejandra Román Cota in 2018, when he played for the Toronto Bluejays. Major League Baseball (MLB) Commissioner Rob Manfred placed Osuna on administrative leave immediately while an investigation took place. Osuna was then suspended for 75 games — a suspension he did not appeal — and was eventually traded to the Astros for less than his true contract value, given his skill as a pitcher. The reason for such a low return was that very few teams wanted to acquire him and the media attention he brings along. The Astros knew this and were able to lowball the Bluejays because of it. Rather shady — but surprisingly, it doesn’t stop there.

After riding the skill of Osuna for the entire 2019 season, the Astros beat the New York Yankees in six games to reach the World Series. In the clubhouse celebration, amidst the champagne popping and dancing, former assistant general manager Brandon Taubman screamed, “Thank God we got Osuna!” If it seems odd to celebrate the man who blew the save in the very game they had just won, forcing second baseman Jose Altuve to come up with a clutch walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning, it should. Not only did Taubman scream this strange phrase out to the entire clubhouse, but he did so in front of three female reporters documenting the celebration, one of whom was wearing a Domestic Violence Awareness bracelet. October is Domestic Violence Awareness month.

If you feel outrage or disbelief, you aren’t alone. Taubman came out with a pathetic apology and was eventually fired, but the Astros didn’t make that decision until after they accused Sports Illustrated, which employed one of the reporters, of fabricating the encounter. Obviously, that response was met with serious backlash, and the organization quickly recanted. Still, it’s truly ridiculous this situation even occurred. Osuna should have been out of baseball after he was arrested. A suspension, no matter how long, is never enough for accusations of domestic assault. As soon as an accusation is made, the player should go on administrative leave until an investigation is completed. If they are found to be guilty, they should immediately be barred from the league. It’s rare the NFL leads the way in any kind of player relations, but suspending Ray Rice indefinitely for assaulting his wife is without question the correct move, despite the Ravens’ initial support of Rice prior to the release of the assault footage. Why they haven’t done the same with players in similar situations, and why the other three leagues haven’t followed suit, remains to be seen.