By: Justin Girshon
June 13, 2020
Earlier today, Evan Drellich of The Athletic reported that a judge (Jed Rakoff) has ordered a 2017 letter written from MLB to the Yankees to be unsealed and that the letter may detail sign stealing. In wake of the sign-stealing scandals in both Houston and Boston, daily fantasy sports contestants have filed a lawsuit against MLB in regards to the 2017 Yankees. On Friday June 12th, Judge Rakoff ruled that the letter sent from MLB to the Yankees should be unveiled. Evan Drellich’s report states, “MLB and the Yankees may submit a minimally redacted version of the letter ‘to protect the identity of the individuals mentioned’ by noon ET on Monday… The Yankees argue the letter would cause ‘significant reputational injury,’ Judge Jed Rakoff said in his order, and the letter is not to be unsealed until June 19, so the team has enough time to make an emergency appeal. People with knowledge of the case said it is likely the Yankees will do so.” This is concerning because if the league and the Yankees organization are both focussed on protecting the identities of players, it can only be assumed they’re hiding something. MLB will do anything possible to not penalize the Yankees because they’re the face of the sport and bring in the most revenue; the Yankees obviously don’t want their players to be mentioned for the wellness of their own organization. No matter what you think of the allegations, it’s at the very least suspicious that both MLB and the Yankees are hiding information and identities from the public. It’s also important to note that the Yankees emergency appeal will likely include revised information of the letter to not reveal identities nor specific details of sign-stealing which won’t be much of help for an investigation.
Judge Rakoff wrote, “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 plaintiffs, the investigation had in fact found that the Yankees engaged in a more serious, sign-stealing scheme.” Assuming the Yankees did engage with a “more serious, sign-stealing scheme,” there is likely strong evidence of it as well as the members within the organization involved in MLB’s letter to the Yankees. In addition to likely finding strong evidence and members within the organization involved, it will prove Manfred has been deceiving all other 29 organizations and every single MLB fan. This will greatly hurt Manfred’s already dreadful reputation because when conducting future investigations, Manfred will not be seen as reliable nor truthful.
On September 15, 2017, the Yankees were fined an undisclosed amount of money for violating a rule governing the use of a dugout phone. It’s important to note that the Yankees violation took place in 2015 and 2016; not 2017. Although the violations were not committed in 2017, the punishment and letter were both issued in 2017. It’s very important to know that the Yankees are not being investigated for what they did in 2015 and 2016, they’ve already been fined for that. The Yankees are being investigated for the letter that MLB sent to the Yankees in 2017 that allegedly discusses the 2015 and 2016 violations in addition to a more serious sign-stealing scheme that was not released to the public and is only in the letter. The letter is the most important aspect of the allegations because if it does contain information and identities of members within the organization, the Yankees could be looking at advanced disciplined but if nothing is found, the Yankees will clearly be proven innocent.
Jonathan Schiller, a lawyer representing the Yankess claimed, “There is no justification for public disclosure of the letter. 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.” In response Judge Rakoff wrote, “The Yankees argue that they have a strong privacy interest because public disclosure of the Yankees Letter would cause the Yankees significant reputational injury. While this may be the case, the gravity of this concern is again lessened by the fact that the contents of the Yankees Letter have already been discussed in some form by the 2017 Press Release.” In short, the Yankees obviously don’t want the letter to be revealed because there is most likely confidential information about a serious sign-stealing investigation and their image will be damaged, as Rakoff wrote. When Rakoff wrote, “the contents of the Yankees Letter have already been discussed in some form by the 2017 Press Release,” he is mentioning what the Yankees did in 2015 and 2016, which they have already been disciplined for.
Featured image via oregonlive.com
Works cited: https://theathletic.com/1870649/2020/06/13/judge-orders-2017-mlb-letter-to-yankees-unsealed-plaintiffs-say-it-details-sign-stealing/ and https://www.mlb.com/press-release/commissioner-s-statement-regarding-red-sox-yankees-violations-254435818
I am a freshman studying magazine, news and digital journalism at the Syracuse University Newhouse School of Public Communications