Astros Fans

My Confusion with Roberto Osuna

Roberto Osuna Trial

As the Astros clinched their second AL West there’s a lot of celebrating going on.  Rightfully so because it’s a great time to be an Astros fan.  I’m 43 years old and have been an Astros fan my whole life.  In the 80’s I carried around a portable radio listening to Milo Hamilton.  Game 6 of the 1986 NLCS was the first gut punch loss I’ve ever felt.  In the summer of 1987 I got a replica Astros jersey and didn’t take it off for a week.  I was at the last 3 Astros games at the Astrodome and the first 4 Astros games at then Enron Field.  I’ve been to a dozen home openers for the Astros.  I traveled to Los Angeles for Game 6 of the 2017 World Series hoping to see the Astros clinch.  I didn’t just recently hop on this bandwagon.

Cheering for the 2018 team is now confusing thanks to the acquisition of Roberto Osuna.  I’ll get to the facts of what we know about Osuna in a bit but I want to be perfectly clear on one thing – the Houston Astros did not have to acquire Roberto Osuna.  There’s no doubt he makes the Houston Astros a better team because he’s a great reliever which is an area the Astros are severely lacking.  Without a good bullpen you don’t win the World Series.  Roberto Osuna makes the Astros more likely to win the World Series than without him.

The Astros acquired Osuna with a cloud around him.  He was serving a 75-game suspension for violating MLB’s personal conduct policy.  He had a pending court case in Canada for domestic assault.  The Astros traded pennies on the dollar to get Osuna because countless other teams were hesitant to acquire Osuna due to the cloud surrounding him.  Straight baseball wise this trade was a steal.  It was a steal because of a potential domestic assault issue.  An organization that had a “Zero Tolerance” policy threw caution to the wind.  “Zero Tolerance” only sounded good.  Winning a World Series sounds better.  They didn’t have to acquire Osuna.  The Astros acquired a guy with a cloud of domestic assault other teams passed on because it helps the Astros win the World Series.  Toronto just wanted to get rid of the guy.

I’ve read quite a bit on the Osuna case.  I don’t have all the facts related to the specific incident as they seem to be short to come by.  Here’s what I do know:

  • Roberto Osuna was arrested and charged with domestic assault. In Canada this can range from verbal to physical assault.
  • Roberto Osuna was suspended 75 games by MLB for a violation of the domestic violence policy. Osuna chose not to appeal the suspension.  You can potentially triangulate the severity of this suspension by looking at other suspensions for suspected domestic issues.  This is the second longest suspension ever handed down in this policy.
  • Jeff Luhnow indicated they did a thorough due diligence and are comfortable with the facts of the case. There has been no discussion of the facts for the case by the Astros.
  • Osuna indicated he’s innocent.
  • Astros players interviewed after the acquisition indicate not knowing any details and are taking a wait and see attitude.
  • The domestic assault charge was withdrawn in Canadian court after a Crown prosecutor said available evidence yielded “no reasonable prospect of conviction.” Part of this is because the alleged victim indicated she would not testify if the case went to trial.  She also indicated she did not fear for her safety.
  • The Astros and Osuna both issued vague statements about the incident after the charge was withdrawn.

Based on those facts I have NO CLUE what to think.  There is no clarity on if he did something or didn’t.  There’s enough of a cloud that he did something thanks to the 75-game suspension by MLB with no appeal.  Why was he suspended for 75 games with no appeal?  If you’re innocent why wouldn’t you appeal that lengthy suspension?  This is the cloud I can’t quite move on from.  Why was he suspended for that length of time with no appeal?

If he was suspended because something did in fact occur then say it.  If Osuna is truly sorry and remorseful then he needs to say it.  He has that opportunity now.  If nothing happened then explain why he was suspended for 75 games with no appeal.  “Moving on” and “offering support” is a bunch of bullshit concocted by a legal team or a press team thinking generic terms will allow time to pass and concern to fade.  Maybe they are right.  It does make the move right if so.  It’s a bullshit play towards the fans hoping time will pass and everyone will forget.

Roberto Osuna is a member of the Astros and therefore a part of the team.  You can’t distinguish the two apart.  A team is a team.  I want to fully cheer for the Astros and Roberto Osuna but it’s difficult with that suspension cloud.  Well, that is if you’re against domestic assault.  If you have no issue with domestic assault then cheer away.  If winning matters more than doing the right thing with domestic assault then cheer way.  If that’s the case then own it.  I don’t care, but be honest winning matters more than doing right with domestic assault.

Domestic assault has received more awareness as it pertains to athletes in the last few years.  That’s a good thing but it’s still apparently a lot of lip service.  If an athlete or coach is good enough it really doesn’t matter.  Fans look beyond it because winning is more important or fun.  The list of people associated with domestic assault in sports is long and getting longer.  Time and time again fans of a team move beyond a player or coach with a cloud of domestic assault because winning is more important.  It’s cool to say you’re against domestic assault but it’s cooler to cheer for a winner.  Let’s be honest about that.

Astros fans don’t deserve to know the intimate facts.  Astros fans do to deserve to know if we’re supposed to cheer for a guy that never did something or a guy that deserves a second chance because he’s remorseful for what he did.  I’m fine with either but I just want to know what player I’m cheering for.

What Astros fans don’t deserve is to cheer for a player who participated in domestic assault and has no remorse.  What Astros fans don’t deserve is to cheer for an organization that pays lip service to domestic assault because winning games is more important.  Astros fans deserve more than the information provided to them by Osuna, the Astros, and MLB.

Robert Osuna is a player on the Astros.  He’s part of the team.  Astros fans deserve to know which one of the three things they could be cheering for in the playoffs:

  1. A guy who is completely innocent and this is all just a big mis-understanding.
  2. A guy who made a mistake and is remorseful. He served his 75-game suspension and deserves a second chance.
  3. A guy who did something wrong and doesn’t care about the issue. He and the organization care more about winning than doing what’s right.

I think most Astros fans would agree they’d simply like to know which of the three scenarios Osuna falls under.  If it’s #1 everyone can cheer for the Astros.  If it’s #2 then I’d think most everyone could cheer for the Astros believing in second chances.  If it’s #3 then I think most Astros fans would take pause on who they’re cheering for.

Clarification for which one of those three won’t ever happen.  It would be easy to do by Osuna or the Astros.  They say they can’t but the reality is they won’t.  There’s a difference between those two words.  They absolutely can if they want.  It would certainly be better than the vague and generic statements that are coming out now.

As we head into the playoffs there’s still a cloud surrounding Roberto Osuna.  That’s a shame.  Astros fans who have poured time, heart, soul, and money into this team over the last two years deserve more.  There’s a player on a team sport with a cloud.  Some clarity of if it’s a cloud of innocence or second chance is owed to the fans.  It really is.  It shouldn’t be this hard.  Maybe learning about and from domestic assault is too complicated because winning may matter more.

If so, that’s a shame.  Go Stros…