There was a question coming into Monday’s game between the Houston Astros and Toronto Blue Jays about how fans at the Rogers Centre would respond when Roberto Osuna took the mound in an opposing uniform for the first time. And not because was Osuna was some bygone ex-Blue Jays star the fans miss so much.
It’s a lot more complicated actually: Osuna, the 23-year-old closer with a seemingly bright future, would likely still be pitching for the Jays if it weren’t for a high-profile alleged domestic violence case that turned into one of the biggest controversies of the baseball season.
It turned out, Toronto fans made it known pretty clearly Monday night how they felt about Osuna — with a chorus of boos.
Osuna gets the save for Astros, but wasn’t welcomed back
With the Astros holding onto a 5-3 lead Monday, Osuna got the call out of the bullpen — like Astros manager A.J. Hinch said he would. Despite giving up a hit, Osuna did his job and closed the game for the Astros. It was his 19th save of the season, and 10th since joining the Astros in a July 30 trade.
Those facts may not be remembered as much as the reaction, though. Here are a few scenes:
Roberto Osuna returns to the Rogers Centre mound to plenty of boos. pic.twitter.com/o9ur4dB8cj
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) September 25, 2018
— Ben Nicholson-Smith (@bnicholsonsmith) September 25, 2018
Fans booing before each pitch Roberto Osuna throws. "How do you live with yourself?" shouted one man. "Respect women" shouted another.
— Shi Davidi (@ShiDavidi) September 25, 2018
The criminal case against Roberto Osuna is still ongoing
Osuna isn’t alone in making sports fan weigh their fandom against a player’s alleged off-the-field transgressions. We’ve seen in a number of sports in recent years, and baseball certainly isn’t immune. In yet another high-profile example: Cubs shortstop Addison Russell was placed on administrative leave by MLB last week after new details of alleged domestic abuse surfaced from his ex-wife.
Osuna’s case has been a lot more complicated. He was arrested for assault in May and the case has been moving through the legal system ever since. Osuna has pleaded not guilty and denied all charges, but MLB still suspended him 75 games under its domestic violence policy. It was during his suspension that the Jays decided he’d never play for them again, opting instead to trade him to Houston.
That opened a whole new can of worms, as the Astros said Osuna was remorseful but Osuna’s lawyer later clarified that Osuna was only remorseful for the circumstances, then reiterated his client was not guilty of the charges. Meanwhile, the Astros said they had a zero-tolerance policy for domestic violence, which caused controversy to swirl around both Osuna and the team.
A hearing was scheduled last week in a Toronto court, but it was delayed, Osuna’s lawyer said. The case, it would seem, is far from over.
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