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An appeals court judge ruled a letter from MLB to the Yankees concerning sign-stealing in 2017 will be unsealed. How did this scandal unfold?
The world will soon know the contents of a letter from MLB commissioner Rob Manfred to Yankees GM Brian Cashman thanks to a ruling from an appeals court judge on Monday.
Could this be the ultimate reveal of MLB letting sign-stealing schemes fester behind the scenes without taking action to stop them? Or will the letter be a complete dude that doesn’t reveal much of anything?
We’ll find out in a couple of weeks when this intrigue finally reaches its conclusion.
But first, what is the sign-stealing letter all about and how did we get here?
Yankees sign-stealing letter: Complete timeline of events
- Aug. 2017: The Yankees lodge a formal complaint about the Red Sox stealing signs using an electronic aid during a series between the two teams. Boston files a countercomplaint.
- What the Red Sox (allegedly) did: A Boston video department employee decoded signals and transmitted them to a trainer in the dugout with an Apple Watch. The trainer then sent signals to a baserunner on second, who relayed the signal to the batter.
- What the Yankees (allegedly) did: New York employees used YES Network cameras to decipher signs.
- Sept. 2017: MLB fines the Red Sox an undisclosed amount for stealing signs via an Apple Watch while the Yankees are fined a lesser undisclosed amount for a prior violation of a rule concerning dugout phones. The league found insufficient evidence to punish New York for alleged YES Network camera usage.
- Sept. 2017: Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred sends a letter to Yankees general manager Brian Cashman concerning the sign-stealing.
- Per Andy Martino of SNY, the letter “could contain references to replay room codebreaking, which [the Yankees] and other clubs did in the 2015-2017 era. MLB never found evidence of NYY doing what Astros did – electronic real time sign stealing w no one on base.”
- Nov. 2019: The Athletic publishes a story detailing sign-stealing accusations against the Astros from their 2017 World Series run and the 2018 season.
- Jan. 2020: After an investigation, MLB fines Houston $5 million and docks the team multiple draft picks while suspending GM Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch for the season. Red Sox manager Alex Cora is also suspended for his role as the Astros bench coach during the cheating.
- Jan. 2020: DraftKings users bring a class action lawsuit against MLB, Astros and Red Sox claiming they are owed damages for bets they placed on pitchers facing Houston and Boston during the sign-stealing schemes.
- Apr. 2020: U.S. District Court Judge Jed S. Rakoff dismisses the lawsuit, ruling “The connection between the alleged harm plaintiffs suffered and defendants’ conduct is simply too attenuated to support any of plaintiffs’ claims for relief.”
- DraftKings users amend their complaint to focus on the letter Manfred sent to the Yankees as proof of his duplicity in hiding widespread sign-stealing from fans and bettors.
- Jun. 2020: Rakoff dismisses the lawsuit again but rules that the letter should be unsealed in the interest of the public. The Yankees and MLB appeal that decision claiming the letter will damage the reputation of the franchise and undermine internal league communications.
- Mar. 2022: U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit Judge Debra Ann Livingston rules the letter should be unsealed “subject to redacting the names of certain individuals.”
Now it’s a waiting game to see where things will go from here.