The Detroit Tigers manager found himself embroiled in the first major controversy of his rookie managerial career when he made a tasteless joke during his postgame media session on Wednesday. Ausmus answered a question about his demeanor coming to the ballpark during the team's recent slide. He then responded to a follow-up question on what he does when he gets home by saying, "I beat my wife."
Ausmus immediately realized he made a mistake and apologized, but the remark set off a firestorm on social media and sports talk radio as well as angering groups that target domestic abuse. There were even those who felt he should be fired.
Neither the team nor the league announced any type of reprimand or punishment.
"In today's world, that's pretty standard," Ausmus said Thursday morning of the blowback. "Truth is, I wasn't trying to trivialize and marginalize the problem of domestic abuse or minimize how awful it is. People in this business know I wasn't trying to hurt anyone or offend anyone and if I did, I'm truly sorry for that because that's not what I was trying to do."
Ausmus also had some explaining to do when he got home.
"I talked my wife and daughters about it," he said. "My daughters are on Twitter all the time, so they see (the reaction). It hasn't been a fun 12 hours. I didn't sleep well."
Interestingly, the media outlets affiliated with the Tigers tried to squelch the controversy. Fox Sports Detroit edited out that portion of the press conference and refused to release it to other media outlets. WXYT-FM, which broadcasts the games, would not allow its on-air talent to play the tape of his comment.
Other TV outlets still found a way to show it, as the beat writer from the Oakland (Mich.) Press recorded the press conference on a camera phone and posted it to the newspaper's media site.
Ausmus did not have an issue with the comment being played, since he was in a public forum. It came toward the tail end of an unusually long press conference.
"You guys are there doing your job," he said. "I was well aware what was going on and I take full blame for it. I knew when (the words) left my mouth they were insensitive and in poor taste, which is why I apologized."
Ausmus downplayed any correlation between his frustration over his underachieving team and the flip remark. But he admits he's been losing sleep over its poor play.
"When I get in my car and drive home, I'm actually OK," he said. "I can fall asleep but I'll wake up at 5 o'clock in the morning and lie awake for two hours thinking about it. It's 5 o'clock, it's dark out and I'm still going over yesterday's game."