Lodi News-Sentinel

Infamous ‘Yankee Letter’ published

- Dennis Young

NEW YORK — After years of legal wrangling, the infamous Yankee Letter from Rob Manfred to Brian Cashman is now public, with a few redactions. Much of the text of the letter was published by SNY on Tuesday, after the Yankees lost a court ruling aiming to keep it sealed. It was set to be released later this week.

Most of the informatio­n in the letter has been widely reported since Manfred wrote it in 2017: The Yankees illegally used a phone to transmit informatio­n about signs from the replay room to the dugout in 2015 and 2016. (The replay phone is only supposed to be used to discuss challengin­g calls.)

In a lengthy statement, the Yankees took pains to say they were never punished for anything but the phone violation, and that sign stealing enforcemen­t only really started in September 2017.

“As the facts of the letters again show, the Yankees were not penalized for sign stealing but were penalized for improper use of the telephone,” the team said. “At that point in time, sign stealing was utilized as a competitiv­e tool by numerous teams ... and only became illegal after the Commission­er’s specific delineatio­n of the rules on September 15, 2017.”

MLB said as much. “The Yankees did not violate MLB’s rules at the time governing sign stealing,” the league said in a statement. “At that time, use of the replay room to decode signs was not expressly prohibited as long as the informatio­n was not communicat­ed electronic­ally to the dugout ... MLB clarified the rules regarding the use of electronic equipment on September 15, 2017.”

Unmentione­d in both statements is what happened after Sept. 15, 2017: The Astros kept cheating and won a World Series.

Daily fantasy bettors had sued after the Astros scandal, claiming they were cheated out of winnings. The suit was dismissed in 2020, but the battle over the letter continued for two more years.

Was it worth the lengthy court fight the Yankees put up to keep it sealed? You judge for yourself:

“During our investigat­ion into the Red Sox’s misconduct, [Redacted] informed the Department of Investigat­ions that the Yankees used a similar scheme to that of the Red Sox to decode opposing Clubs’ signs and relay them to the batter when a runner was on second base. [Redacted] — who initially noticed that the Red Sox were using a smartwatch to pass informatio­n to their players — admitted to the Department of Investigat­ions that during the 2015 season and the first half of the 2016 season, [Redacted], provided informatio­n about opposing Club’s signs to players and members of the coaching staff in the replay room at Yankee Stadium, who then physically relayed the informatio­n to the Yankees’ dugout. [Redacted] also admitted that during that same time period, in certain stadiums on the road where the video room was not proximate to the dugout, used the phone line in the replay room to orally provide real-time informatio­n about opposing Club’s signs to Yankee coaches on the bench.

“The Yankees’ use of the dugout phone to relay informatio­n about an opposing Club’s signs during the 2015 season, and part of the 2016 season, constitute­s a material violation of the Replay Review Regulation­s. By using the phone in the video review room to instantane­ously transmit informatio­n regarding signs to the dugout in violation of the Regulation­s, the Yankees were able to provide realtime informatio­n to their players regarding an opposing Club’s sign sequence — the same objective of the Red Sox’s scheme that was the subject of the Yankees’ complaint.” — SNY reporting of Rob Manfred’s letter to Brian Cashman.

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