April 27, 2022

MLB's 2017 Investigation Into Yankees' Claim Of Sign-Stealing By Red Sox Found Yankees Had Cheated In Exactly The Same Way In 2015-16 (But Manfred Kept That Info A Secret)

In August 2017, the Yankees asked the Commissioner's Office to investigate "the illegal use of electronic equipment" by the Red Sox in order to steal signs and relay the information to batters. After that investigation, Rob Manfred sent the letter quoted below to Yankees GM Brian Cashman on September 14, 2017.

The Yankees fought for years against the public release of this letter. Now we can see why. Evan Drellich (The Athletic) notes that Manfred's letter reveals the stark difference between the way the Yankees' behavior was described publicly and privately.

In his 2017 statement, Manfred ruled the Red Sox had violated the rule against using electronic equipment "for the purpose of stealing signs or conveying information". He added that during the course of MLB's investigation, it was found the Yankees "had violated a rule governing the use of the dugout phone" during the 2015 and 2016 seasons, but Manfred explained that "the substance of the communications" on that phone "was not a violation of any Rule or Regulation in and of itself".

Manfred was, at the very least, telling a lie of omission. After the Yankees filed their complaint, the Red Sox filed a complaint in response, claiming the Yankees were stealing signs in 2017. Manfred stated that the evidence he saw was insufficient. However, as he noted in the final paragraph of his letter to Cashman, the Yankees were stealing signs in 2015 and 2016 (and Manfred fined the club $100,000). In fact, the Yankees were guilty of the exact same thing they later complained about with respect to the Red Sox. (emphasis added below)

September 14, 2017

Dear Brian:

On August 23, 2017, the New York Yankees filed a formal complaint and requested that the Office of the Commissioner "conduct a full and complete investigation concerning the illegal use off electronic equipment, in game, by the Boston Red Sox in order to steal signs and gain an illegal advantage in the game." As a result of the Yankees' complaint, I directed the Department of Investigations to interview a number of employees of the Red Sox and the Yankees in connection to this matter. Based on the information we received, I have concluded that the Red Sox violated On-Field Regulation 1-2.A by using electronic equipment "for the purpose of stealing signs or conveying information designed to give a Club an advantage." I will address this violation of the On-Field Regulations directly with the Red Sox.

During our investigation into the Red Sox's misconduct, [redacted] informed the Department of Investigations that the Yankees used a similar scheme to that of the Red Sox to decode opposing Clubs' signs and relay them to the batter when the runner was on second base. [Redacted] — who initially noticed that the Red Sox were using a smartwatch to pass 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 opposing Club's signs to players and members of the coaching staff in the replay room in Yankee Stadium, who then physically relayed the information to the Yankees' dugout. [Redacted] also admitted that during that same time period, in certain stadiums on the road where the video room was not proximate to the dugout [redacted] used the phone line in the replay room to orally provide real-time information about opposing Club's signs to Yankee coaches on the bench.

Section VI(C)(2)(c) of the Replay Review Regulations (2-14) provides as follows:

The dugout phone will be connected to the video review location. If the dugout phone does not work at any point during the game, upon notifying the home plate Umpire, the Manager shall be permitted to communicate with his Club's video review location via walkie-talkie. On-field personnel in the dugout may not discuss any issue with individuals in their video review room using the dugout phone other than whether to challenge a play subject to video Replay Review.

The Yankees' use of the dugout phone to relay information about an opposing Club's signs during the 2015 season, and part of the 2016 season, constitutes a material violation of the Replay Review Regulations. By using the phone in the video review room to instantaneously transmit the information regarding signs to the dugout in violation of the Regulations, the Yankees were able to provide real-time information to their players regarding opposing Club's sign sequence — the same objective of the Red Sox's scheme that was the subject of the Yankees' complaint (1).

Based on the foregoing, the Yankees are hereby fined $100,000. Please send a check in that amount, made payable to Major League Baseball Charities, to my attention. The money will be used for Hurricane Irma relief.

I expect your strict adherence to the On-Field Regulations going forward. Any similar violations will result in more significant discipline, including but not limited to the denial or transfer of player selection rights provided by Major League Rules 4 and 5.


Robert D. Manfred, Jr.


(1) As you know, on September 5, 2017, the Red Sox submitted a separate formal complaint and request that my office investigate the Yankees, alleging that the Yankees have employed "techniques of sign stealing and relaying, as well as other questionable methods of gathering information on opposing teams' strategies," which have included "using YES Network cameras pointed at [the Red Sox's] coaching staff and players giving signs in the dugout, in order to gain an illegal advantage in the game." My office has thoroughly investigated the Red Sox's claims in this regard and has concluded they are without merit. The Red Sox also submitted a video clip from a YES Network broadcast of a June 13, 2017 game between the Yankees and the Angels in Anaheim that appears to show a Yankees bullpen coach watching the Angels' network broadcast of the game on an unauthorized iPad in the Yankees' bullpen. The broadcast is on a one-pitch delay, and there is no evidence the Yankees were using the iPad as a part of a sign-stealing scheme. Regardless, use of this iPad violated On-Field Regulation 1-2.A.

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