Notorious Yankees Sign-Stealing Letter Wasn't Worth All the Fuss

Aaron Boone
Aaron Boone / Elsa/GettyImages

For two years now, the New York Yankees have fought tooth and nail to prevent the contents of a certain letter going public. The letter, dated back in September 2017, is from MLB commissioner Rob Manfred and addressed to Yankees general managers Brian Cashman. In it, Manfred details the findings of a sign-stealing investigation involving the Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. It was sealed by court order, but a recent lawsuit brought against the Yankees by sports bettors led a judge to declare it unsealed, a decision the team unsuccessfully appealed. That lawsuit has been dropped.

SNY's Andy Martino got his hands on the letter before it went public, and it turns out that it was a whole lot of nothing! It raises serious questions about why the Yankees got so mad about it getting to the public eye. Team president Randy Levine recently said it would, "lead to a lot of bad things down the road." Yet the letter doesn't really show the Yankees in a bad light at all. It merely contained information already known.

The Yankees might've been worked up about the fact that the letter stated they did, in fact, violate the rules back in 2015 and 2016 and were fined $100,000 for their transgressions. But they only used the video replay room to decode signs and give them to runners on second base, a rule violation not nearly as severe as the ones the Houston Astros engaged in that set off this whole mess.

The letter actually clears the Yankees of using YES Network cameras for sign-stealing, which the Red Sox accused them of. So that reflects well on the organization. And it confirms that New York did not engage in sign-stealing after Manfred started the crackdown on sign-stealing in 2017, after which more severe punishments were handed out to the Astros and Red Sox. So really the Yankees look better after the letter got released instead of worse, which makes their strong reluctance to it's publication even stranger.

Maybe the team just has a strong respect for legal precedent. Or maybe they didn't want it out there that they did, in fact, lightly rule-break six years ago. Either way, they got all baseball fans in a tizzy over what ended up being a pretty meaningless letter.