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Yankees Letter Reveals Past Fine for Sign-Stealing Methods, per Report

The Yankees were once fined $100,000 for improper use of a dugout phone during the 2015 and part of the ’16 seasons, according to SNY, who obtained the infamous “Yankees Letter.”

On Tuesday, SNY exclusively obtained the letter regarding sign-stealing allegations from a 2017 investigation involving the Yankees and the Red Sox. According to the report, the Yankees used the video replay room to translate sequences and phone them to the dugout. Those signs were then passed to second base runners, who would signal the decoded messages to batters. 

SNY reported that the team’s sign-stealing methods, however, are not being considered similar to the Astros’ scandal. Houston’s scheme involved batters receiving messages in real-time using the live feed of the game to conduct a system where players in the dugout banged on a trash can to signal certain pitches rather than relying on runners at second base. 

It also exonerated New York from using YES Network cameras to steal signs and said the team never enacted its scheme after Sept. 15, 2017, when MLB commissioner Rob Manfred announced that using technology to steal signs would be subject to stricter punishment.

SNY's findings come five days after the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the Yankees’ request to keep the letter sealed. The Yankees felt that if the letter from Manfred to general manager Brian Cashman involving the sign-stealing scheme was unsealed, it would harm the team’s reputation from a previous lawsuit in which it was not a part of.

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Daily fantasy sports contestants filed a $5 million lawsuit against MLB and the Red Sox in 2020 alleging that Manfred withheld information from the public about MLB’s 2017 investigation involving Apple Watches being used to steal signs. The commissioner sent a letter to the Yankees that stated additional information about the league’s findings. 

MLB previously issued a statement about the Yankees’ conduct regarding this issue saying that it “clarified the rules going forward to expressly prohibit such conduct.”

“The Yankees argue that the harm from the unsealing of the Yankees Letter will arise because its content ‘would be distorted to falsely and unfairly generate the confusing scenario that the Yankees had somehow violated MLB’s sign-stealing rules, when in fact the Yankees did not,’” the court wrote in March. “That 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 capable of disseminating their own views regarding the actual content of the Yankees Letter. In short, any purported distortions regarding the content of the Yankees Letter can be remedied by the widespread availability of the actual content of this judicial document to the public, and the corresponding ability of MLB and the Yankees to publicly comment on it.”

Both the Red Sox and Yankees were fined by MLB in 2017 for using technology to steal opponents’ signs. Houston was later punished by MLB for sign-stealing in ’18, along with the Red Sox again.

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For more New York Yankees coverage, go to Inside The Pinstripes