Alex Cora On Astros Cheating Scandal I Served My Penalty and I Deserved It

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Alex Cora is apologizing for his role in the Houston Astros cheating scandal -- and admitting he "deserved" the punishment he received from Major League Baseball.

45-year-old Cora was a bench coach for the 'Stros during the 2017 season -- and parlayed his success into a better job, manager of the Boston Red Sox.

Of course, an MLB investigation found Cora and several others used technology to steal pitching signs from other teams -- which ultimately gave an advantage to Houston's hitters. Cora has previously said he was not the "sole mastermind" but he's clearly accepting some of the blame.

After MLB's investigation, Cora was slapped with a 1-year suspension and the Red Sox parted ways with him.

But, now that the ban is up, the Sox have hired him back -- and he broke his silence about the situation Tuesday during a press conference.

"I deserved what happened this year," Cora told reporters about his suspension ... "It's something that I'm not proud of."

"We went through the whole process with the Commissioner's Office and the Dept. of Investigations, at the end, I got my penalty and I served it."

Cora apologized to the Red Sox for putting them in a tough spot after they hired him -- saying he understands it made the organization look bad.

"As a leader, as a person that enjoys the game -- I put this organization in a tough spot and I'm sorry."

Cora says he doesn't want to exploit his 2nd chance "to make it seem like it's a great comeback story."

Instead, Cora says he wants other people to learn from his mistakes so they don't go down the same road.

"This situation is part of who I am for the rest of my career. As a man, I have to deal with it. I don’t want people to make it seem like it's a great comeback story."

He added, "I know there’s a lot of people that I disappointed and for that I’m sorry … I'm still Alex, I made a mistake."

"I'm not proud of it. I'm not happy about it. But, we have to move on."

Ex-Astros GM Jeff Luhnow Sues Team Cheated Me Out of $22 Mil ... Over Cheating Scandal

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Ex-Houston Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow is suing his former team for more than $22 MILLION -- claiming he was wrongly made the scapegoat for the cheating scandal despite having nothing to do with it.

53-year-old Luhnow -- who was hired by the Astros in 2011 -- says he signed a deal with the team in 2018 that included $31 million in guaranteed compensation in addition to performance bonuses.

But, when the team fired him for cause following an investigation into allegations the team conducted a high-tech sign-stealing system in 2017 ... Luhnow claims he got screwed out of a ton of money, more than $22 million.

In his breach of contract lawsuit, Luhnow claims the Astros fired him "even though [he] had no knowledge of -- or involvement in -- the sign-stealing schemes."

He adds, "Yet everyone above and below Luhnow in the Astros organization came away unscathed" -- including the "video room employees who conceived and orchestrated the sign stealing system."

Luhnow claims the "investigation" -- which he puts in quotes in his suit -- was "deeply flawed" and wrongly made him a scapegoat, claiming he had knowledge of they scheme.

"The truth is the Astros had no basis to fire Luhnow, a respected executive with an unblemished record and a 16 year history of compliance with MLB rules."

The Astros fired Luhnow in January 2020 -- after the MLB report was released.

He was hit with a 1-year ban -- same as manager A.J. Hinch -- but Luhnow has not been hired by another team.

Hinch, on the other hand, was just hired to manage the Detroit Tigers.

So far, no comment from the Astros.

Alex Cora Re-Hired As Red Sox Manager ... After Serving Ban For Role In Astros Scandal

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Alex Cora is back in Boston ... the Red Sox have re-hired him as their manager after he spent this past season serving a ban for his role in the Astros' cheating scandal.

The team made the move Friday ... according to MLB Network's Jon Heyman, who added Red Sox brass interviewed Cora last week in Puerto Rico.

"Apparently," Heyman reported, "he answered all their questions satisfactorily."

Of course, the hiring will no doubt cause controversy in MLB circles ... Cora was outed as one of the integral pieces of the Astros' sign-stealing cheating scandal back in 2017.

Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a report last February that Cora -- a 'Stros bench coach at the time -- was the mastermind behind the whole trash-banging scheme.

For his part, Alex didn't deny the cheating and accepted the one-season ban that Manfred hit him with ... but the 45-year-old manager added he was pissed others involved in the scheme weren't hit with similar punishments.

"We all did it," Cora said in an interview with ESPN this summer ... before adding, "Everyone who was part of the team from around mid-May until the end of the season, we are all responsible."

Cora was a great manager for the Sox before his ban ... he won 192 games -- including a World Series -- in 2 seasons with the team after they hired him before the 2018 season.

Sen. Ben Sasse Uses ACB Hearing To Crap On Astros ... 'Miserable Cheaters'

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MORE SALT IN THE WOUND
C-SPAN

"I'd like to talk about the Houston Astros, who are miserable cheaters."

Nebraska U.S. Senator Ben Sasse used time during the Amy Coney Barrett hearing Wednesday to dump ALL OVER the Astros ... and we gotta say, it was funny as hell!!

The 48-year-old Republican was trying to make a point to ACB ... when he went on a long tangent RIPPING Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman and the rest of the 'Stros.

"All baseball fans know the Houston Astros cheat," Sasse said. "They steal signs. They bang on cans. They've done a whole bunch of miserable things historically."

Sasse continued, "They deserve to be punished probably more than they have been."

Sasse was briefly interrupted by Texas U.S. senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn ... but the dude kept on going forward regardless!

Eventually, Ben got to a point ... he said ACB has to turn down people trying to influence her decisions the same way umpires turn away cheating requests from baseball players.

We know ... kind of a stretch, but, hey, we're chucklin'!

By the way, the Astros are just one game away from being eliminated from the postseason ... if the Rays get the W in Game 4 Wednesday night, it's on to 2021 for Houston.

Everybody got their Tampa hats on?

CC Sabathia Rips 'Clown' Carlos Correa In Epic Rant ... 'Shut The F*** Up!!!'

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"The kid’s a clown!"

CC Sabathia lost his mind on Carlos Correa in an epic rant this month ... telling the Houston Astros star to straight-up "shut the f*ck up!"

If you missed it, after Correa and the 'Stros beat the Minnesota Twins to move on into the 2nd-round of the MLB playoffs last week ... Carlos rubbed some salt in Houston haters' wounds.

"I know a lot of people are mad," Correa said after the series W. "I know a lot of people don’t want to see us here, but what are they going to say now?"

Sabathia was asked about those comments on the 'R2C2 podcast' ... and the former New York Yankees ace didn't hold back.

"They cheated and then they’re mad at us!" Sabathia said. "Like get the f*ck out of here!”

"It’s a f*cking joke," CC added. "And, then you finish under .500 this year. Like, shut the f*ck up!"

Of course, CC's had BIG BEEF with Correa and the Astros over their cheating scandal for a long time now ... he's clearly felt burned given his Yankees teams lost to the Astros in both the 2017 and 2019 playoffs.

In fact, despite being buds with Astros manager Dusty Baker ... CC made it crystal clear he's hoping the A's whoop Houston in their upcoming ALDS series.

"Man," CC said, "f*ck them dudes, man."

L.A. Dodgers' Joe Kelly Rips 'Little Bitch' Astros ... 'Not Respectable Men To Me'

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DIGGING IN
Big Swing Podcast hosted by Ross Stripling and Cooper Rules

"I think I'll be irritated forever."

L.A. Dodgers pitcher Joe Kelly just RIPPED the Houston Astros ... calling the players "snitches" and "little bitches" over their cheating scandal in a scathing rant.

The reliever sounded off on his teammate, Ross Stripling's "Big Swing Podcast" ... making the comments shortly after he was suspended 8 games for his role in a near Astros-Dodgers brawl last month.

Kelly explained to Stripling how he thought his ban was BS ... and then went absolutely IN on the Astros for the way he believes they passed off blame in their 2017 cheating scandal.

Kelly says the players wrongly let bench coach Alex Cora and GM Jeff Luhnow -- who were both fired after MLB's investigation -- take the fall for the sign-stealing scheme ... saying, "all they do is go snitch like a little bitch, and they don't have to get fined, they don't have to lose games."

Kelly added, "When you take someone's livelihood ... to save your own ass, that's what I don't like. Cheating? They cheated. Everyone knows they're cheaters."

"They know they're cheaters. It's over. That's been there, done that. But now, they mess it up by ruining other people's lives, so they f*cked it up twice."

Kelly -- who wasn't on the 2017 Dodgers team that lost to the Astros in the World Series but did play under Cora in 2018 with the Red Sox -- says Houston players' actions were "one of the worst things that you could probably do."

"They're not respectable men to me," Kelly said.

BAD BLOOD
MLB

As for his role in the infamous Astros-Dodgers game last month ... Kelly says he has no idea why baseball banned him -- insisting when he threw at Alex Bregman and Carlos Correa, it wasn't intentional.

In fact, Kelly blamed the Astros for all of the ensuing commotion ... saying he was the one who properly socially distanced and followed CDC guidelines amid the chaos.

"They walked out of their dugout, walked toward us," Kelly said. "Carlos Correa f*cking spit at our team."

Kelly has since had his suspension reduced to five games after his appeal. The Dodgers, meanwhile, are slated to play the Astros again for a two-game series in September.

Oakland A's Laureano Charges Astros' Dugout ... First MLB Brawl Ensues

The first actual brawl in the 2020 MLB season just unfolded before our eyes -- and lo and behold ... it was against the Houston Astros.

The A's were playing Houston Sunday for a day game, and during the 7th inning ... Astros pitcher Humberto Castellanos beaned A's outfielder Ramon Laureano in the back, which ticked him off. He had words for Castellanos, but then directed his anger at the dugout.

It looks like one of the Astros hitting coaches was chirping at Laureano, which then prompted the A's slugger to charge the dugout. Several Astros players stepped in before Laureano could reach his target -- it looks like Dustin Garneau took him down and others piled on.

This led to the benches clearing and other players to tussle and wrestle on the ground, while others tried pulling one another off. Some were wearing masks, others weren't -- and the fact it was the first actual physical brawl of the COVID-era season made it all the more bizarre.

Of course, there's likely going to be some harsh penalties dished out here because of this -- MLB has strongly discouraged physical closeness/confrontations ... especially if they can be avoided. They've said they'll hand down whatever regular fines or suspensions they normally do in these types of situations, but won't cut 'em down at all for the shortened season.

We already saw what the Dodgers-Astros bench-clearing ruckus drew as far as punishment -- imagine what'll be issued here where fists and bodies actually collided.

Diamondbacks' Archie Bradley Appears To Flip Off Cheater Astros ... After Mammoth HR

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THE BIRD FROM THE BULLPEN
Courtesy of MLB

The hatred for the cheating-ass Houston Astros looks to be still rolling along smoothly ...

Here's video of Arizona Diamondbacks closer Archie Bradley appearing to flip off the 'Stros after a huge home run Wednesday night ... and it's pretty hilarious!!!

In the 5th inning of the D'Backs' rout of Houston in Phoenix ... Nick Ahmed blasted a moon shot bomb deep to left-center field that had Arizona's players going crazy.

The camera panned around to everyone while Ahmed was rounding the bases -- and when it got to the Diamondbacks' bullpen, you can see Bradley clear as day pumpin' a middle finger toward the diamond.

Was it directed at the 'Stros players? Seems like it. Was it because Houston was caught in a massive sign-stealing, cheating scheme that rocked baseball? Probably.

Bradley hasn't addressed the single-barrel salute with media yet ... so it's all unclear at the moment.

What is clear, though ... is everyone still hates the Astros for their roles in a 2017 cheating scandal.

BAD BLOOD
MLB

Remember, Dodgers pitcher Joe Kelly was just suspended 8 GAMES by MLB after he almost incited a brawl by nearly beaning both Alex Bregman and Carlos Correa in a game last week.

Kelly has since appealed the ban ... saying it wasn't intentional -- but MLB has yet to make a final ruling.

L.A. Dodgers' Joe Kelly Suspended 8 Games For Throwing at Cheater Astros Players

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BAD BLOOD
MLB

2:12 PM PT -- MLB has just hit Joe Kelly with an 8-GAME suspension for throwing at multiple Houston Astros players during Tuesday night's game.

The league cited Kelly's history of intentionally throwing at batters for the lengthy punishment. Remember, it's only a 60-game season so 8 games is a big deal.

"Kelly, who has previously been suspended in his career for intentional throwing, threw a pitch in the area of the head of Alex Bregman and later taunted Carlos Correa, which led to the benches clearing," MLB said.

Kelly is appealing his suspension -- but good luck with that.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts also got a 1-game suspension as a result of Kelly’s action.

Both Kelly and Roberts will begin their suspension Wednesday night -- when the Dodgers continue their series with Houston.

Additionally, Astros manager Dusty Baker was fined for the bench-clearing incident that ensued.

L.A. Dodgers pitcher Joe Kelly was a man out for REVENGE on Tuesday -- firing baseballs at the cheating ass Houston Astros ... and nearly igniting a brawl in the process.

He talked trash to the players. He threw a 96 MPH fastball at Alex Bregman's head. And, mocked several players from the mound.

He also struck out Carlos Correa and shouted, "Nice swing, bitch!"

It was all part of a highly anticipated matchup between the Dodgers and the Astros -- the first time the teams had played since an MLB investigation revealed Houston had cheated their faces off during the 2017 season.

Kelly wasn't on the Dodgers during that 2017 World Series run -- but he was on the Boston Red Sox, which had been eliminated by the Astros in the ALCS earlier that year.

So, yeah ... a bunch of people had some serious axes to grind.

Fast forward to Tuesday when Kelly took the mound in the 6th inning of L.A.'s game against Houston in Texas ... it didn't take long for him to appear to try to exact some revenge.

After getting Jose Altuve out ... Kelly got down 3-0 in a count to Bregman -- and then fired a 96 MPH fastball that missed the star 3rd baseman's head by inches.

Just two batters later ... Kelly threw a breaking ball that nearly clipped Correa in the back of the head as well!!

Neither player was happy with the throws ... and after Kelly struck out Correa a pitch or two later -- Kelly mocked Carlos on his way off the mound.

Joe made crying faces at the shortstop, then appeared to yell, "You gotta cheat to hit!" and other cuss words ... and that's when both benches cleared and almost got into an all-out brawl!!

HE STARTED IT
Houston Astros

Cooler heads ultimately prevailed ... but Astros manager Dusty Baker was PISSED at Kelly after the game, saying his actions put Bregman and Correa's careers in danger.

"When you throw a 3-0 fastball over a guy's head, now you're flirting with ending his career," Baker said. "And then a couple other guys, balls were close. And then what really enraged everybody is when he told Carlos when he struck him out, he told him, 'Nice swing, bitch.'"

For their part, Kelly and Dodgers manager Dave Roberts both said there wasn't any intent behind the pitches.

But, with Correa and Bregman being the two most famous players associated with the Astros' sign-stealing, trash can banging scandal that perhaps cost the Dodgers a World Series ring in '17 ... it's not hard to see through this one.

L.A. ended up winning 5-2, by the way ... but there's still another game left in the series Wednesday night.

Getcha popcorn ready!!!

Originally Published -- 6:29 AM PT

Houston Astros Light Up Scoreboard For George Floyd ... Touching Tribute

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The Houston Astros paid their respects to George Floyd in a touching way Monday night ... lighting up their stadium's scoreboard with his picture and the words, "Rest In Power."

The scene was striking ... the 'Stros opened up their stadium so the photo was visible for miles -- and at the bottom of the pic, they typed out "Black Lives Matter."

The team also laid down flowers, a photograph and a candle for Floyd on the Minute Maid Park grass as well.

The Houston Texans also honored the 46-year-old the night before he was set to be laid to rest in his Texas hometown ... lighting up their stadium in his former high school's color scheme.

As we previously reported, Floyd tragically died late last month after a Minnesota cop knelt on his back and neck for over eight minutes during an arrest attempt.

The aftermath of his death sparked national outrage ... with protestors calling for real change in America.

A memorial service was held for Floyd on Monday in Houston ... where family members and victims of other police brutality incidents gave emotional and powerful speeches.

DON'T STOP FIGHTING
Fox 26

Houston Astros Block World Series Ring Charity Auction ... We'll Buy It for $1

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The Houston Astros have essentially SHUT DOWN an auction for a 2017 World Series ring ... claiming they have a contract in place to buy it back for $1.

ONE. AMERICAN. DOLLAR.

The ring -- which originally belonged to Astros scout David Brito -- was listed with Goldin Auctions as part of its May 2020 catalog and some expected it to sell for as high as $60,000!!

Of course, Astros players, coaches and staffers each got a ring for defeating the L.A. Dodgers in the 2017 World Series ... despite the fact, they're cheating-ass cheaters who cheat.

100% of the proceeds from the auction were going to be donated to the CAMCare Foundation for COVID-19 related causes at hospitals and health care centers.

But, Goldin tells TMZ Sports ... the Astros reached out to them and demanded they pull the item -- claiming they have a first-look deal with Brito to buy it back for $1, which he signed in order to receive the item in the first place.

IT'S CHARITY WORK
TMZSports.com

If this sounds familiar, it's because it's the same policy as the Academy Awards -- which requires winners to give the Academy the first option to buy the award back for $1 if the winner (or a family member) wants to get rid of it.

Goldin tells us ... they were unaware of the $1 contract when they agreed to auction the item -- but they will comply with the Astros' demand and return to the ring back to the consigner.

We're told the consigner is NOT Brito -- but a ring dealer.

Unclear if the consigner will give the ring back to Brito so he can actually sell the ring back to Houston -- but at this point, it probably makes more sense for him to keep it.

After all, why give the Astros another ring they really don't deserve to have?!

As for the ring itself -- it contains 214 diamonds, 16 natural blue sapphires and 9 natural orange sapphires.

Wonder if the contract says anything about melting it down and selling the raw materials?

We reached out to the Astros for comment -- so far, no word back.

MLB's Dave Stewart Luzardo's A Cy Young Dark Horse ... Rookie's That Good!!!

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TONS OF POTENTIAL
TMZSports.com

Fantasy baseball nerds, get your rankings out ... Oakland A's legend Dave Stewart tells TMZ Sports rookie Jesus Luzardo is going to have such a huge year, he's a Cy Young dark horse!!

"Luzardo, I think coming into this season obviously is the odds-on favorite to win the Rookie Of the Year," Stewart says. "And, I don't hesitate to take it a little bit further -- I wouldn't be surprised to see him as a Cy Young candidate."

If you haven't heard of Luzardo yet ... you probably should have, because the 22-year-old is arguably the top pitching prospect in baseball and appears poised for a monster first full season in the MLB.

In fact, in just 8.1 innings of spring training ball last month, before the MLB suspended play due to coronavirus ... Luzardo struck out 13 while walking 1 and only giving up 1 earned run.

When we asked Stewart about the kid ... he couldn't have loved the prospect's game more -- but says another rookie on the A's staff is going to impress as well!

"What's a shame is you've got also A.J. Puk," Stewart says. "So, you've got Puk and Luzardo, and they're going to be competing with each other for that Rookie of the Year."

As for Oakland's chances in the AL West now that the Houston Astros no longer have Gerrit Cole leading the charge ... Stewart tells us he thinks this could be the year the A's take back the division's crown.

Ex-Astros Pitcher Ken Giles Willing To Return World Series Ring ... 'Crushed' By Scandal

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Ex-Astros pitcher Ken Giles says he's absolutely devastated by Houston's sign-stealing scandal ... and despite having no idea his teammates were cheating, he's willing to return his World Series ring.

Giles -- now a member of the Toronto Blue Jays -- revealed his feelings over the bombshell scandal, saying he was hurt to find out through the commissioner's report.

"It crushed me to learn about the stuff that went on when I was there," Giles said via the Toronto Sun.

"I had no idea. I had no clue whatsoever. I was blindsided by the commissioner's report. Up until then, I honestly didn't believe it. Just crazy."

Of course, bullpen pitchers rarely make it to the dugout with the other players ... so the findings of the investigation floored Giles.

There have been players and fans calling for the 'Stros to relinquish the 2017 World Series title ... and Giles says he's willing to give up his championship ring.

"Whatever they ask, I would oblige. Because what was going on at the time, was not OK."

"It just hurts. If they want it back, I'll be true to whatever needs to be done."

Astros' Alex Bregman Drilled In Back In Spring Game ... First Of Many?!?!

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Well, Alex Bregman better get used to this ...

The Houston Astros superstar was just DRILLED for the first time since he was revealed to be a cheater ... and it all begs the question -- HOW MANY MORE TIMES WILL IT HAPPEN THIS YEAR?!

The 3rd baseman stepped up to the plate in the 5th inning of Houston's spring training game against the Cardinals on Wednesday ... and he WORE one right in the back.

Bregman said afterward he didn't think it was intentional -- "It was a splitter. It just got away from him" -- but, COME ON!!!!!!

The HBP sure seemed fishy to us ... you can see the pitch -- on a 3-2 count, nonetheless -- plunked Bregman SQUARELY between the shoulder blades.

And, as you can tell from Bregman's reaction ... it wasn't exactly a lollipop!!

Of course, the 'Stros are likely going to face this all season long after the MLB announced it found they cheated their way to a World Series title in 2017.

In fact, ex-MLB star Aubrey Huff told us just a few days ago he sees this happening REGULARLY to the 'Stros in 2020.

NO TECH ALLOWED
TMZSports.com

And, according to the unofficial counter on Twitter ... Bregman's hit by pitch marked the SEVENTH time a 'Stros player has been plunked so far this spring.

So, yeah ... better get those ice baths ready this season!!!

Jose Altuve Fans Boo The Hell Outta Astros Star First AB Since Cheating Scandal

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Announcer: "Now batting ... Jose Altuve."

Fans: BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That's how it went down at Spring Training in West Palm Beach on Monday when the Houston Astros star made his first plate appearance since the cheating scandal.

Shocked, right?!?

Altuve didn't seem fazed by the chilly reception -- in fact, the guy hit an RBI double against the Detroit Tigers all by himself without any help from high-tech cameras and trash cans!

There was another awkward moment in the game ... Altuve was technically hit by a pitch -- though it was truly accidental. He was clipped in the foot by a breaking ball in the dirt.

Remember, Astros manager Dusty Baker has expressed concern about pitchers throwing at Altuve and other Houston players involved in the cheating scandal -- he doesn't want vigilante justice.

But, again, that didn't seem to be the case this time around ... but it's a loooong season.

Final score ... Astros 11, Tigers 1.

MLB's Aubrey Huff Astros Will Be Beaned All Year 'Wear Bulletproof Vests!!!'

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NO TECH ALLOWED
TMZSports.com

Aubrey Huff says there's going to be A LOT of bruises on Astros players' backs this year ... saying the punishment for their cheating scandal is going to be all-out bean wars in 2020!

"I would suggest a lot of those guys -- especially Altuve and Bregman -- wear bulletproof vests up to the plate all year long!" Huff tells TMZ Sports.

Of course, ZERO Houston players were punished for their roles in the 2017 cheating scandal ... and a LOT of people are pissed off about it.

So much so, Huff says pitchers will take matters into their own hands -- regardless of Rob Manfred's rulings -- and hit the Astros at the dish all season.

"Listen, you pay the piper," Huff says. "You reap what you sow. If you're going to go out there and cheat, you're going to get drilled."

As for Huff's thoughts on the Astros' scheme ... he says he's always down for some sign-stealing tricks, but he admits Houston just went way too far.

"When you start using technology to cheat, that's when you cross the line and people are going to get hurt."

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