Yankees, MLB appeal judge’s decision to unseal 2017 sign-stealing-related letter

Yankee Stadium
Danielle Parhizkaran/NorthJersey.com via USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees and Major League Baseball on Monday officially appealed Judge Jed S. Rakoff’s decision to unseal a 2017 letter from commissioner Rob Manfred to the team’s general manager, Brian Cashman in regards to the organization’s connection with illegally stealing signs, as first reported by The Athletic’s Evan Drellich

Rakoff ruled that the letter be opened as a part of the plaintiff’s — DraftKings daily fantasy players — appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on Friday after their initial case against the Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox was denied in April. Their case explained that they were defrauded because both teams had essentially cheated.

The Astros dominated MLB storylines heading into the 2020 season before it was indefinitely postponed because of the coronavirus outbreak. 

They were found guilty of illegally stealing signs by using electronics — a camera in center field relaying the opposing catchers’ signs to a TV just inside the hallway connecting the dugout to the clubhouse. A clubhouse attendant would then bang a garbage can to indicate to the batter the kind of pitch that was coming. 

While the Red Sox were the other main perpetrators, the Yankees were found guilty of illegally using a dugout phone, which they were fined for in 2017. The Red Sox, though, implored that the Yankees were using the cameras from their television station, YES Network, to relay signs to the dugout — an act that was never confirmed.

The Yankees and MLB Rob Manfred’s desire to keep the letter under wraps, however, naturally creates an inkling that something might be amiss.

“Plaintiffs alleged that the 2017 Press Release falsely suggested that the investigation found that the Yankees had only engaged in a minor technical infraction, whereas, according to the plaintiffs, the investigation had in fact found that the Yankees engaged in a more serious, sign-stealing scheme,” Rakoff wrote.

Also on Monday, the Yankees and MLB were required to submit a redacted version of the letter to protect specific names (if any) listed. 

If their appeal is denied, the letter will be opened on Friday.

Jonathan Schiller, the lawyer representing the Yankees, could not be reached for comment.