NEW YORK (AP) — The 2nd U.S. Court of Appeals has denied a request by the New York Yankees to rehear the team’s attempt to keep sealed a letter from baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred to general manager Brian Cashman detailing an investigation into sign stealing.
In a brief order without explanation Thursday, the appellate court said its active judges had denied the team’s petition to have the entire 13-member court hear the case or order a rehearing before a three-judge panel.
Circuit Judge Joseph F. Bianco ordered the letter unsealed on March 21 after hearing the case with Chief Judge Debra Ann Livingston and Circuit Judge Gerard E. Lynch. They upheld an April 2020 ruling by U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff to dismiss a lawsuit by fantasy sports contestants who claimed they were damaged by sign stealing in Major League Baseball. Rakoff also ordered Manfred’s letter be unseald.
The five men who sued participated in fantasy contests hosted by DraftKings from 2017-19.
Manfred ruled in January 2020 that the Houston Astros violated rules against electronic sign-stealing 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.
Manfred fined the Red Sox in 2017 for using Apple Watches to pass along signals and fined the Yankees a lesser amount for improper use of a dugout telephone in an earlier year. He concluded in April 2020 that sign-stealing efforts by the Red Sox on their way to the 2018 title were less egregious than those by the 2017 Astros. Alex Cora, who had lost his job as Boston manager, was suspended for the 2020 season for his role as Houston’s bench coach.
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