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Yankees letter from 2017 from Rob Manfred reveals team involved in video sign theft before MLB crash

For weeks, we’ve been hearing about this letter from MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred to the Yankees that was written and delivered in 2017 about sign theft. The Yankees have fought in the justice system to prevent the letter from being closed and revealed to the public. However, the appellate courts rejected the request.

On Tuesday, SNY revealed the contents of the letter. You can read it in its entirety here, but below is one of the prominent sections.

During our investigation into the Red Sox’s offense, [Redacted] informed the Department of Investigations that the Yankees used a similar scheme as the Red Sox to decode opposing clubs’ signs and pass them on to dough when a runner was on second base. [Redacted] – who initially noted that the Red Sox used a smartwatch to pass on 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 the opposing club’s signs to players and members of the coaching staff in the replay room at Yankee Stadium, who then physically forwarded the information to the Yankees’ dugout. [Redacted] also admitted that during the same time period at certain stadiums on the road where the video room was not close to the excavation, the telephone line in the playroom was used to orally provide real-time information about the opposing club’s signs to Yankee coaches on the bench.

[….]

The Yankees’ use of the dugout phone to pass on information about an opposing club’s signs during the 2015 season and part of the 2016 season constitutes a material breach of the Replay Review Regulations.

The Yankees turned out to have used the video playroom to figure out conflicting character systems, passing them on to second-base runners, who then passed them on to batters. However, this was done in 2015 and 2016, before the league sent a letter to each team in 2017 in a major attempt to crack down on video use in sign-theft schemes. The Yankees were fined $ 100,000 for their scheme.

As a reminder, both the Astros and Red Sox have been penalized for electronic character theft, but these violations happened after the 2017 letter from Manfred to each team. The SNY report notes that the Astros stole signs during the playoffs in 2017, and the Red Sox did so throughout the 2018 season.

In this special letter to the Yankees, it is noted that the league cleared them of any offense following the Manfred warning in 2017 and the subsequent repression. It also specifically mentions a Red Sox complaint that the Yankees used YES (their local TV broadcast) cameras to steal signs and in turn clear the Yankees of any offense.

“My office has thoroughly investigated the Red Sox’s allegations in this regard and has concluded that they are unjustified,” Manfred’s letter states.

While the Yankees certainly broke the rules in 2015 and 2016, it is entirely possible that many teams did as well. Note the relatively small fine given to the ball club. Nor would it make sense for Manfred to send a letter for the entire league warning of a major assault if only a few teams violated the rules. No, it seems that the biggest crimes came after the said letter, and they were limited to the Astros and Red Sox, at least as far as all the information we have at this time is concerned.

The Yankees released the following statement Tuesday after the letter was revealed:

The content and details of the letter from Commissioner Manfred to Brian Cashman have been widely reported since 2017. As the facts of the letter again show, the Yankees were not punished for theft of signs, but were punished for improper use of the phone in the replay. room (which should only be used for discussions regarding replay review challenges). At the time, sign theft was used as a competitive tool by several teams throughout Major League Baseball and only became illegal after the commissioner’s specific delineation of the rules on 15 September 2017.

The Yankees were also justified by Major League Baseball regarding allegations that the team used YES Network resources in an effort to gain an illegal advantage during games. These allegations were found to have no justification.

The Yankees fought hard for the production of this letter, not only for the legal principle involved, but to prevent the incorrect juxtaposition of events that took place before the establishment of the Commissioner’s rules on character theft with those that took place after. What should be made vividly clear is this: the fine in Major League Baseball’s letter was imposed Before MLB’s new rules and standards were issued.

Since Major League Baseball clarified its rules regarding the use of video room equipment on September 15, 2017, the Yankees have not had any violations or violations.

MLB also issued a statement (read it in its entirety here), which in part stated: “The Yankees did not violate MLB rules at the time regulating the theft of signs. At that time, the use of the playroom to decode signs was not expressly prohibited by the MLB rules as long as the information was not communicated electronically to “Because the rules for replay use had evolved, many clubs moved their video equipment close to the pitch, giving staff the potential to quickly forward signs to the pitch.”

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