Yankees News: Judge Won’t Unseal Sign-Stealing Letter Until After Appeal Is Over

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 19:  A New York Yankees hat and glove are seen in the dugout during Game Six of the League Championship Series at Minute Maid Park on October 19, 2019 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

Tim Warner/Getty Images

Fans will have to wait before potentially hearing of the findings from an investigation into sign-stealing allegations against the 2017 New York Yankees.

NJ Advance Media’s Brendan Kuty shared a note from U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff that said commissioner Rob Manfred‘s letter to the Yankees will remain sealed while the team’s appeal unfolds:

Brendan Kuty @BrendanKutyNJ

Judge who wants Yankees’ letter unsealed says it won’t happen until team’s appeal is heard and decided. https://t.co/6nTg87BsIc

In September 2017, Manfred issued a fine to the Boston Red Sox amid allegations they used an Apple Watch to electronically steal signs. The Red Sox subsequently said the Yankees had a sign-stealing scheme of their own, but Manfred said there was “insufficient evidence” to corroborate the claim.

The Athletic’s Evan Drellich reported last Friday that Rakoff ruled MLB and the Yankees would have to release “a minimally redacted version” of Manfred’s letter.

Drellich also provided some of Rakoff’s ruling:

“MLB primarily argues that it will be injured by the disclosure of the Yankees Letter because such disclosure will undermine its ability to conduct internal investigations in the future by undermining teams’ faith in their confidentiality. The Yankees argue that they have a strong privacy interest because public disclosure of the Yankees Letter would cause the Yankees significant reputational injury. While this may be the case, the gravity of this concern is again lessened by the fact that the contents of the Yankees Letter have already been discussed in some form by the 2017 Press Release.”

The letter was part of a class-action suit brought against MLB by daily fantasy sports players. While the case was originally dismissed in April, the plaintiffs filed an appeal to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The allegations against the Red Sox and Yankees, which prompted a memo from Manfred to all 30 teams laying out the rules against sign stealing, proved to be of larger consequence down the road.

An MLB investigation determined the Houston Astros used a camera in center field to relay the opposing catcher’s signs to a video replay room. Team employees would decode the signs and communicate them to Astros players.

General manager Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch were suspended for one year by MLB and fired by the team. Houston was also fined and lost draft picks. Alex Cora, who was an Astros bench coach in 2017, received a one-year suspension as well after already having resigned as the Red Sox’s manager.

According to the Wall Street Journal’s Jared Diamond, Manfred didn’t punish any active Astros players in part because Luhnow never forwarded Manfred’s 2017 memo to the rest of the team. 

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