Judge orders letter unsealed on Yankees sign stealing: report


New York (AFP)

The New York Yankees could join the Houston Astros and the Boston Red Sox as the focus of a Major League Baseball sign-stealing scandal thanks to a New York judge.

US District Court judge Jed S. Rakoff ordered Friday that a 2017 letter from MLB commissioner Rob Manfred to the Yankees detailing the team's sign-stealing activities be unsealed next Friday, The Athletic reported.

The Yankees argued making the letter public would cause "significant reputational injury" to the club, according to the report.

MLB fined the Boston Red Sox in 2017 for illegally using Apple watches to steal signs from the Yankees but also fined the Yankees for violating "a rule governing the use of the dugout phone."

But details in the letter could lift the 2017 Yankees scandal to a level matching those of the 2017 Astros and 2018 Red Sox -- World Series winners whose titles are tainted by using electronic methods to steal signs.

The Astros were found to have used outfield cameras to detect signs from opposing catchers to pitchers, with players seeing the signs on a screen just beyond the dugout and signaling what pitch was coming to batters by banging on trash cans.

An MLB investigation concluded this past January that the Astros used the system during their 2017 championship run and in 2018.

Astros manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow were suspended for the 2020 season then fired by the Astros, who were fined $5 million and docked top picks in the 2020 and 2021 MLB Drafts.

The Red Sox and manager Alex Cora, an Astros bench coach in 2017, agreed to part ways after the findings were revealed.

A separate investigation into Red Sox sign stealing in 2018 issued findings two months ago, imposing a 2020 season ban on Cora and the team camera replay operator.

Players were given immunity by MLB in exchange for cooperation in the probe.

The Yankees letter court ruling came after fantasy sports players sued MLB in the wake of the Astros and Red Sox sign-theft scandals, citing different punishments in the cases.

The Yankees reportedly are likely to make an emergency appeal of the decision. The team was given a Monday noon deadline to submit a version of the letter with minimal redactions.

Several Yankees players ripped the Astros after their 2017 scandal was revealed, New York star Giancarlo Stanton suggesting the Yankees were cheated out of a World Series spot when they lost to Houston in the 2017 American League Championship Series.