This year’s World Series is exciting. The fall classic returned to the nation’s capital for the first time since 1933, showcasing the heavy favorite Houston Astros against major underdog Washington Nationals.
Unfortunately for the Nationals, its Cinderella story season has been clouded by the dysfunctionality in the Astros front office.
As an aspiring female sports journalist — one who loves baseball almost more than anything in this world — I found the Nationals’ actions incredibly disheartening but not surprising.
The now-fired assistant general manager Brandon Taubman went on an expletive-filled tirade during the Astros celebration after defeating offensive juggernaut New York Yankees to move onto the World Series Oct. 19. He targeted his rant toward a group of female reporters, in which he supported closer Roberto Osuna, who was suspended over an alleged assault against the mother of his child last May.
Of the three women who faced the brunt of the outburst, one was wearing a purple domestic violence awareness bracelet. Another was Sports Illustrated reporter Stephanie Apstien.
Apstien reported that an Astros staff member apologized, however the team declined to comment and declined to make him available for a media interview.
Hours after the story was published, the Astros released a statement denouncing Apstien’s reporting, stating, “we are extremely disappointed in Sports Illustrated’s attempt to fabricate a story where one does not exist.”
Multiple journalists for other media outlets corroborated the reporting of the incident.
Besides the fact that Osuna was handed the largest suspension from a domestic violence incident in league history and remains eligible to play on the largest stage of baseball, the Astros verbally attacking women — who are doing their job, is outright horrific.
Taubman apologized in a statement, admitting to the outburst, however defending himself as a “loving and committed husband and father.”
It took the team over three days to publicly apologize in a statement to Apstien and hadn’t yet apologized to her personally — even though she was in the room whilst general manager Jeff Luhnow spoke to the media.
Ahead of Game 3 in Washington D.C., reporters saw Luhnow speak to Apstien in private. She reportedly asked the team for a public retraction — and it didn’t come until Oct 27.
As journalists, our role is to report facts. In a world where the term “fake news” is normalized, its important to know that facts are facts — even in something so pointless as sports.
In all aspects of sports, women are always seen in the minority, and especially in sports journalism. Just like in any workplace, women must work twice as hard — if not harder — to even be respected by their male peers.
Inequalities in sports journalism isn’t a new topic, and won’t be going away anytime soon, even after this incident. It will still be considered surprising that a woman has a knowledgeable background in sports, and honestly it will probably be a stigma that will never fade.
The overwhelming support of Apstien by her male colleagues, including top baseball reporters such as Ken Roenthal and Jeff Passan, shows women are becoming more and more respected in baseball’s sports journalism.
As for Apstien, she has done exactly what you would expect a journalist to do — move on to the next story.