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Appeals court orders Manfred’s letter to Yankees not be sealed

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A federal appeals panel has upheld a lower court’s decision to unseal a letter from Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred to Yankees general manager Brian Cashman detailing an investigation into the theft of signs.

The panel made the decision on Monday, affirming U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff’s April 2020 ruling to dismiss a lawsuit filed by fantasy sports competitors who claimed they were damaged by the theft of signs in the Major League Baseball.

“At its core, this action is nothing more than claims filed by disgruntled fantasy sports participants who are unhappy with the effect cheating in MLB games may have had on their level of success in competitive sports. fantastic,” Circuit Judge Joseph F. Bianco wrote for a panel that also included Chief Judge Debra Ann Livingston and Circuit Judge Gerard E. Lynch.

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New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman leaves the team cafeteria at the Spring Training Baseball Center, Sunday, March 13, 2022, in Tampa, Fla.
((AP Photo/John Raoux))

The five men who sued competed in fantasy contests run by DraftKings from 2017 to 2019.

“We believe that alleged misrepresentations or omissions by organizers and participants in major league sports regarding the competition itself – such as statements about performance, team strategy or rule violations – do not give rise to to plausible allegations resembling fraud or related legal theories brought by consumers of a fantasy sports competition that use player statistics from a league,” Blanco wrote.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred ruled in January 2020 that the Astros violated rules against electronic sign theft during home games en route to their World Series title in 2017 and again in 2018. He suspended manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow for one season each, and both were fired by the team. Manfred fined the Astros $5 million, the maximum under MLB rules, and stripped the team of its next two first- and second-round amateur draft picks.

Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred speaks during a press conference after negotiations with the players' association for a labor agreement, Tuesday, March 1, 2022, at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Florida.

Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred speaks during a press conference after negotiations with the players’ association for a labor agreement, Tuesday, March 1, 2022, at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Florida.
(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Manfred fined the Red Sox in 2017 for using Apple Watches to transmit signals and fined the Yankees less for misusing a dugout phone in a previous year. He concluded in April 2020 that the Red Sox’s sign-stealing efforts en route to the 2018 title were less egregious than those of the 2017 Astros. Alex Cora, who had lost his position as Boston manager, was suspended for the season 2020 for his role as Houston’s bench coach.

Hinch was hired to manage Detroit for the 2021 season, and Cora took over the job for the Red Sox.

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Fans who sued Manfred’s alleged letter “contradicted a subsequent MLB press release on the same subject,” the circuit court wrote. “Because a substantial portion of the substance of the letter has already been disclosed in the investigation press release issued by MLB, we conclude that the District Court did not abuse its discretion in unsealing the letter. , subject to deletion of the names of certain persons.

Houston Astros Jose Altuve #27 celebrates with manager AJ Hinch #14 after beating the New York Yankees 4-0 to win Game 7 of the American League Championship Series at Minute Maid Park on October 21, 2017 in Houston, Texas.

Houston Astros Jose Altuve #27 celebrates with manager AJ Hinch #14 after beating the New York Yankees 4-0 to win Game 7 of the American League Championship Series at Minute Maid Park on October 21, 2017 in Houston, Texas.
(Elsa/Getty Images)

Rakoff decided that Manfred’s letter to the Yankees should be unsealed, and the team appealed.

“The Yankees primarily contend that they will suffer ‘significant and irreparable reputational harm’ not because of the actual substance of the Yankees letter, but rather because its contents would be twisted to falsely and unfairly generate the confusing scenario that the Yankees had somehow violated the MLB sign steal rules, when in fact the Yankees did not,” Blanco wrote. “This argument, however, carries little weight. Disclosure of the document will allow the public to independently assess MLB’s conclusion regarding the internal investigation (as articulated to the Yankees), and the Yankees are fully able to air their own opinions regarding the actual contents of the Yankees letter.”

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The Yankees can ask the 13 judges of the 2nd circuit to meet en bench to reconsider the decision.

Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.

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