Quite a few Yankees took swings at the Astros over Houston’s illegal sign-stealing scandal this winter, but now they’re getting a taste of their own medicine.
Astros shortstop Carlos Correa seemingly trolled Aaron Judge on Saturday after a U.S. District Court Judge ordered the unsealing of a letter sent from MLB commissioner Rob Manfred to the Yankees in 2017, when the ball club was fined an undisclosed amount for improper use of a bullpen phone during a previous season.
Online baseball gamblers from DraftKings say the 3-year-old private letter includes information that would implicate the Yankees in a far-greater scandal. The unsubstantiated claim is tied into an appeal filed by the the gamblers, whose lawsuit that more-recent Astros and Red Sox sign-stealing scandals created an unfair wagering platform was tossed in April.
“Wait… what? ….?” Correa tweeted Saturday, mirroring a tweet sent out by Judge in November after former Astros pitcher Mike Fiers blew the whistle on the Astros’ illegal sign-stealing.
Judge’s initial tweet was seen by many as having a sarcastic tone, as the Astros had long-been suspected of illegal sign-stealing among players before Fiers came out.
Astros stars Josh Reddick and Lance McCullers Jr. also tweeted GIFs poking fun at the Yankees development, though the gamblers’ allegations against the Yankees are not nearly as strong as the case was against the Astros, which included video evidence and multiple interviews conducted by the league.
In 2017, the Yankees and Red Sox were both fined undisclosed amounts after what the leagued deemed the improper use of a bullpen phone and Apple Watch, respectively.
Manfred wrote in a press release then that the Yankees “had violated a rule governing the use of the dugout phone,” but that the “substance of the communications [over the phone] was not a violation.”
Both incidents took place before the MLB overhauled its sign-stealing rules — which led to Correa and the Astros facing a series of punishments this offseason, including the one-year suspensions of their manager and general manager, after Manfred confirmed the team electronically stole signs in 2017 and parts of 2018.
The Draft Kings “plaintiffs alleged that the 2017 Press Release falsely suggested that the investigation found that the Yankees had only engaged in a minor technical infraction, whereas, according to plaintiffs, the investigation had in fact found that the Yankees engaged in a more serious, sign-stealing scheme,” U.S. District Court Judge Jed Rakoff wrote in an order Friday, according to The Athletic.
The Yankees argue the release of the letter would cause “significant reputational injury,” according to Rakoff, for they possibly fear it would unfairly implicate them into baseball’s darkest cheating scandal.
“We’re not doing this to cover up some smoking gun,” a Yankees official told The Athletic.
In a statement to the Athletic, Yankees lawyer Jonathan Schiller wrote “there is no justification for public disclosure of the letter. The plaintiff has no case anymore, and the court held that what MLB wrote in confidence was irrelevant to the court’s dismissal of the plaintiff’s case. Under established law, this supports the Yankees’ right to confidentiality required by the Commissioner of Baseball.”
Schiller told The Athletic the findings in question were regarding issues that happened in 2015 and 2016, a season in which Judge played 27 games.
“It is the Yankees’ understanding that the press release about the investigation reflects the Commissioner’s final determinations,” Schiller said. “Those determinations were that the Yankees had committed a technical violation of MLB’s rules by misusing the dugout phone. The Yankees were not found to have violated any rule involving sign stealing. The press release is accurate and states MLB’s conclusions.”
The Yankees and MLB reportedly have until noon on Monday to submit a “minimally redacted version of the letter.”