2nd U.S. Court of Appeals Denies New York Yankees Request in Letter Unsealing Case Related to Sign Stealing

NEW YORK — A request from the United States Court of Appeals 2nd U.S. Court of Appeals was denied New York YankeesTo hear the team's attempts to keep sealed a note from Rob Manfred, commissioner, to Brian Cashman, general manager, describing an investigation into sign theft.

The appellate court issued a short order Thursday without explaining why it denied the team's request to have the whole 13-member court hear the case. It also ordered a rehearing before the three-judge panel.

After having heard the case with Chief Judge Debra Anne Livingston, Circuit Judge Joseph F. Bianco decided to unseal the letter on March 21. They upheld a U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff's April 2020 decision to dismiss a lawsuit brought by fantasy sports contestants claiming they were injured by sign theft in Major League Baseball. Rakoff also ordered Manfred’s letter to be unsealed.

Five of the men sued took part in fantasy contests held by DraftKings between 2017-19.

Manfred ruled January 2020 that the Houston AstrosIn 2017, and again in 2018, they violated the rules against electronic sign-stealing at home games. This led to them winning the World Series title. The team fired Jeff Luhnow and AJ Hinch, the general manager. Manfred imposed a $5 million fine on the Astros. This was the maximum MLB regulations allow. The team also lost its two next-round amateur draft picks.

Manfred in 2017 fined the Red Sox for using Apple Watches for signal transmission. A lesser amount was assessed to the Yankees for improperly using a dugout phone in an earlier year. In April 2020, Manfred concluded that the Red Sox's theft of sign material on their path to the 2018 championship was less serious than the 2017 Astros. Alex Cora was dismissed as Boston manager and suspended as Houston's coach of the bench.

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