Yankees up in arms over release of letter allegedly showing ‘serious’ sign-stealing
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Yankees up in arms over release of letter allegedly showing ‘serious’ sign-stealing

By Tommy Fradenburg

Contributing Writer for Telegraph Local | See @tommyfradenburg

When Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred gave the Boston Red Sox their sign-stealing punishment; it seemed one of the most controversial scandals in league history had run its course. But a judge’s decision to open a 2017 letter from Manfred to the New York Yankees might re-open the record.

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New York Judge Jed Rakoff has ruled the Yankees must submit a “minimally redacted version of the letter,” by noon on Monday; something the team claims will cause “significant reputational injury.”

The club is expected to file an emergency appeal of the ruling, but one anonymous official said they efforts are not “to cover up some smoking gun.”

Despite the specifics of the letter being sealed to date; the consensus among league sources is that the letter is about a sign-stealing program former player Mark Teixeira detailed back in February. MLB fined the team an undisclosed amount for improper use of a dug-out phone back in 2017; as part of a system the Gold Glover said was rampant in the league at the time.

The implementation of manager challenges in 2014 led to more cameras capturing game action; but had the unintended consequence of allowing teams better looks at an opportunities to decrypt oppositions communication signals.

Teixeria said some players and coaches would watch the TV broadcast in the dug out during games and attempt to decipher what other teams were doing. If someone felt they worked out a sign and a runner stood on 2nd base; he’d alert the runner who would pass the message to the batter.

“I thought personally it was BS because by the time they decoded and would get it to me [from second base], my at-bat was over or the pitcher and catcher changed the signs,” he said. “They were wrong more than they were right.”

It is important to note that while the investigation happened in 2017; the actual actions came before the league implemented the more stringent sign-stealing rules violated by Houston and Boston.

Why Now?

The ruling to unseal the letter is part of a lawsuit from DraftKings players upset over the Astros and Red Sox scandals.

Rakoff dismissed the plaintiff’s case as a whole back in April; but an allegation that MLB misrepresented its findings in its 2017 investigation of the Yankees. Despite Manfred’s official ruling that the Yankees misconduct was minor and did nothing to inappropriately gain an advantage; the plaintiff claims the behavior was worse.

“There is no justification for public disclosure of the letter,” Jonathan Schiller, a lawyer representing the Yankees said in a statement.

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“The plaintiff has no case anymore, and the court held that what MLB wrote in confidence was irrelevant to the court’s dismissal of the plaintiff’s case. Under established law, this supports the Yankees’ right to confidentiality required by the Commissioner of Baseball.”

The Yankees say they want the letter to remain confidential as employees investigated took part in a confidential process; but it naturally raises questions about what the letter could hide. The team however is contending that if the letters addressed to the Astros and Red Sox about their infractions remains sealed; so should theirs from three years ago.

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