LeBron James Calls Out MLB Commissioner Over Houston Astros Scandal: 'Listen to Your Players'

LeBron James of the L.A. Lakers entered into baseball politics after he called out MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, saying the commissioner must "listen to" his players after months during which Manfred has been vehemently criticized for his handling of the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal.

"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---ing irate!," the L.A. Lakers star tweeted.

A number of MLB players, including three-time American League MVP Mike Trout, New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge, and Los Angeles Dodgers stars Cody Bellinger and Justin Turner, have called out the Astros for cheating and Manfred for failing to hand out adequate punishments.

On Tuesday, James added his voice to the chorus.

"I mean like uncontrollable about what I would/could do! Listen here baseball commissioner listen to your 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!"

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.....

— LeBron James (@KingJames) February 18, 2020

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! #JustMyThoughtsComingFromASportsJunkieRegardlessMyOwnSportIPlay

— LeBron James (@KingJames) February 18, 2020

A report published in November by The Athletic revealed the Astros had illegally used technology to decipher their opponents' signs during the 2017 season when the team won the World Series. The signs were then relayed to Houston batters in real time by banging on a garbage can.

Following an MLB investigation into the report, last month Manfred acknowledged the scheme had been "player-driven."

But players escaped punishment while the team was fined a record $5 million and lost its first and second round picks in the 2020 and 2021 draft. Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch were suspended for the 2020 season and were subsequently fired by team owner Jim Crane.

Carlos Beltran, the only player mentioned in the report, has since retired and lost his job as New York Mets manager.

On Monday, Manfred defended his handling of the situation, insisting on making the truth known to the public was more important than handing out individual punishments.

"The desire to have actual discipline imposed on them, I understand it and in a perfect world it would have happened," he said in a wide-ranging interview with ESPN. "We ended up where we ended up in pursuit of really, I think, the most important goal of getting the facts and getting them out there for people to know it."

The MLB has also repeatedly dismissed calls to strip the Astros of their 2017 World Series title, a decision which has also attracted criticism from rivals of the Astros.

Manfred, who also came under fire for describing the World Series trophy as a "piece of metal," said the league had considered the option of revoking the title but had chosen not to proceed as it was mindful of creating a potentially dangerous precedent.

"[Stripping a team of a title] has never happened in baseball," he said. "I am a believer in the idea that precedent happens and when you deviate from that, you have to have a very good reason."

Not only has the commissioner's approach failed to placate MLB players and teams, it has hardened their demand to see the Astros punished.

"Taking a trophy away, taking the rings away, I think they should definitely do something," Trout said during the Los Angeles Angels media availability on Monday.

"I don't know what. But to cheat like that and not get anything, it's sad to see."

MLB, Rob Manfred
Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred speaks during the 2019 Major League Baseball Winter Meetings on December 10, 2019 in San Diego, California. Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty