NBA's LeBron joins MLB stars in ripping Astros as cheats

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New York Yankees star Aaron Judge said he was "sick to my stomach" to learn about the Houston Astros cheating scandal, which he says impacted the Yankees' 2017 Major League Baseball playoff series against Houston

New York Yankees star Aaron Judge said he was "sick to my stomach" to learn about the Houston Astros cheating scandal, which he says impacted the Yankees' 2017 Major League Baseball playoff series against Houston (AFP Photo/ELSA)

Los Angeles (AFP) - NBA superstar LeBron James joined a growing chorus of Major League Baseball stars ripping the Houston Astros as cheaters Tuesday for a sign-stealing scheme in their 2017 World Series championship season.

New York Yankees star Aaron Judge, Los Angeles Angels slugger Mike Trout and several members of the Los Angeles Dodgers -- who lost the World Series to Houston three years ago -- have spoken out about the high-tech cheating scheme exposed in an MLB investigation last month.

"Listen I know I don't play baseball but I am in Sports and I know if someone cheated me out of winning the title and I found out about it I would be F*^king irate!" James tweeted. "I mean like uncontrollable about what I would/could do!"

James also called for MLB commissioner Rob Manfred to listen to the criticism coming from stars across the league, many impacted by the cheating scheme.

"Listen here baseball commissioner listen to your players speaking today about how disgusted, mad, hurt, broken, etc etc about this," James tweeted. "Literally the ball is in your court (or should I say field) and you need to fix this for the sake of Sports!"

James closed with the hashtag: "Just My Thoughts Coming From A Sports Junkie Regardless My Own Sport I Play."

The findings of an MLB probe have led to the firings of three managers linked to the 2017 Astros, although no players have faced punishment and Manfred said the team would not be stripped of the 2017 crown.

"I feel like every single guy over there needs a beating," Atlanta's Nick Markakis said of the Astros.

"Just sick to my stomach to find out," Judge said Tuesday.

The scandal, involving cameras in the outfield and a monitor near the dugout plus beating on trash cans to signal batters what type of pitch was coming, has been compared to the 1919 Chicago "Black Sox" match-fixing scandal or the 1990s steroids era in giving baseball another black eye.

Dodgers star Cody Bellinger said he felt the Astros "stole" the World Series crown from the Dodgers, that Jose Altuve "stole" the American League Most Valuable Player Award from Judge in 2017 and owner Jim Crane's apology was "weak."

Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner objected to Manfred calling the MLB championship trophy, known as the commissioner's trophy, just "a piece of metal."

"I don't know if the commissioner has ever won anything in his life. Maybe he hasn't," Turner said. "But the reason every guy in this room is working all off-season and showing up to camp early and putting in all the time and effort is specifically for that trophy.

"So for him to devalue it the way he did just tells me how out of touch he is with the players in this game. At this point, the only thing devaluing that trophy is that is says 'commissioner' on it."

- Yankees star Judge 'mad, upset' -

Judge added he was "pretty mad, pretty upset" that the Yankees' seven-game American League Championship Series loss to Houston in 2017 could have been impacted by the cheating scandal.

"No matter what anybody says, that impacts the game -- going in there, knowing what's coming," Judge said. "That's more people on base, you're getting more walks, you're getting more hits. You come to the plate with more opportunities with guys on base, so it definitely impacted the results of that."

Judge called the MLB punishments "pretty weak for a player-driven scheme" and referred to comments by Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish, who was beaten twice by the Astros in the 2017 World Series while with the Dodgers.

"I think Darvish was the one that said if you're playing in the Olympics, you win a gold medal and you find out you cheated, you don't get to keep that medal," Judge said.

"I just don't think it holds any value with me," Judge said. "You cheated and you didn't earn it.

"I had a lot of respect for them, the way they played and what they did. And then to find out that it wasn't earned, they cheated -- that didn't sit well with me."