Braves' Nick Markakis: Everyone on cheating Astros 'deserves a beating'
Lakers' LeBron James says he'd be 'irate' if cheated out of a championship
Before taking batting practice, Atlanta outfielder Nick Markakis teed off on the scam-ridden Houston Astros.
"I feel every single guy over there deserves a beating," he said Tuesday from North Port, Fla.
Markakis wasn't happy with commissioner Rob Manfred, either.
"I think the commissioner completely handled it the wrong way. But that's the way he did it and we got to live with that. I know a lot of people disagreed with the way he handled this decision," Markakis said. "He should be embarrassed of himself."
As the Braves began their first full-squad workout, Markakis became the latest major leaguer to take aim at the Astros in the wake of their sign-stealing scandal.
"I ain't commenting on everybody's comments. Go ahead. You want to beat on us, go ahead," new Astros manager Dusty Baker said. "I didn't think Markakis talked too much."
Astros close out regular season at Atlanta
When told Markakis doesn't, Baker said, "OK, maybe he had his Wheaties."
I know how hard it is to prepare for this game. To see something like that, it's damaging to baseball.— Braves outfielder Nick Markakis on the sign-stealing Astros
The Braves and Astros play twice in spring training. Houston closes the regular season at Atlanta in late September.
Manfred suspended Houston manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow for one season for the team's actions in using video to steal catcher's signs in 2017 and 2018, and the pair were fired by Astros owner Jim Crane. Manfred fined the Astros $5 million US and stripped them of their next two first- and second-round draft picks.
WATCH | Jamie Strashin looks at league-wide frustration over Astros' scandal:
Players were not disciplined and their 2017 World Series title remained intact.
Dozens of big leaguers have criticized the penalties as being too lax, including Los Angeles Angels star Mike Trout, National League MVP Cody Bellinger and Dodgers teammate Josh Turner, and all-star pitchers Yu Darvish of the Cubs and Trevor Bauer of the Reds.
Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James also weighed in on Tuesday, tweeting that if he had been cheated out of a title he'd be irate.
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! I mean like uncontrollable about what I would/could do! Listen here baseball commissioner listen to your.....—@KingJames
players speaking today about how disgusted, mad, hurt, broken, etc etc about this. Literally the ball(⚾️) is in your court(or should I say field) and you need to fix this for the sake of Sports! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/JustMyThoughtsComingFromASportsJunkieRegardlessMyOwnSportIPlay?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#JustMyThoughtsComingFromASportsJunkieRegardlessMyOwnSportIPlay</a>—@KingJames
'I think they got off pretty easy'
"It angers you, especially from a guy who played the game the right way his whole career," said the 36-year-old Markakis, a 14-season big league veteran. "No short cuts. I know how hard it is to prepare for this game. To see something like that, it's damaging to baseball."
"I know we're all competitors. We're out to compete, but there are right ways to do it and wrong ways to do it," he said. "I 100 per cent disagree the way with the way they did it. A lot of people were hurt by it. Everything has been handled the wrong way."
Markakis said the Astros' actions were clearly wrong.
"You got two guys sitting at home, kind of getting a little leeway but they're out of the game right now," he said of Hinch and Luhnow. "Then you got the players who did it who are scot-free. I know there's a lot of political stuff behind it but it's wrong. You don't want to see that."
"As players, we do not agree with what they did or don't stand behind them or support them, their actions," he said. "I think they got off pretty easy. They're going to be able to go out and compete with no ramifications at all."
Manfred apologizes for trophy comments
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred apologized Tuesday for what he called a disrespectful reference to the World Series trophy as a "piece of metal."
Players, already upset with Manfred's handling of the Houston Astros' sign-stealing scandal and some of his comments in trying to explain it, became further infuriated by his "piece of metal" comment during a lengthy interview with ESPN on Sunday, the same day he spoke in Florida.
While speaking at the Cactus League media day in the Arizona desert, Manfred also pledged Tuesday to protect Oakland right-hander Mike Fiers, the ex-Astros pitcher who became the whistleblower when he went public in November to The Athletic.
"We will take every possible step to protect Mike Fiers wherever he's playing, whether it's in Houston or somewhere else," Manfred said. "Mike did the industry a service."
'You cheated and you didn't earn it'
New York Yankees star Aaron Judge feels the Houston Astros should be stripped of their 2017 World Series championship.
"You cheated and you didn't earn it," Judge said Tuesday after the Yankees' first full-squad workout. "That's how I feel. It wasn't earned. It wasn't earned the way of playing the game right and fighting to the end and knowing that we're competing, we're competitors.
"The biggest thing about competition is laying it all out on the line, and whoever is the better player, better person comes out on top. To know that another team had an advantage that, nothing you can really guard against, I just don't feel like that's earned."
Houston beat the Yankees in a seven-game AL Championship Series in 2017, winning all four home games, and defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers in a seven-game World Series.
"To hear that you got cheated out of that opportunity, that's tough to kind of let go," Judge said.
Judge finished second to the Astros' Jose Altuve in that year's voting for AL MVP.