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Judge rules letter from Rob Manfred to Yankees to be unsealed

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On Friday, The Athletic’s Evan Drellich reported that a New York judge ruled that a letter sent from commissioner Rob Manfred to the Yankees, regarding a sign-stealing investigation, should be unsealed and made public. The Astros, Red Sox, and Yankees are defendants in a lawsuit filed by daily fantasy sports contestants in the wake of sign-stealing scandals.

In late 2017, Yankees GM Brian Cashman filed a complaint to Major League Baseball, accusing the Red Sox of using an Apple Watch to steal signs. The Red Sox responded by accusing the Yankees of fixing a YES Network camera on bench coach Gary DiSarcina in order to steal signs. The league investigated both incidents and commissioner Rob Manfred fined both clubs an undisclosed amount. Manfred found insufficient evidence to support that claim that the Yankees were stealing signs but did find that the Yankees used a dugout phone illegally during “an earlier championship season.” The Yankees last won the World Series in 2009.

The Yankees say that unsealing this letter would cause “significant reputational injury.” Drellich suggests the Yankees will make an emergency appeal rather than unseal the letter by June 19.

Drellich noted in his reporting on the Red Sox sign-stealing scheme that the Yankees (and other teams) used a similar scheme in previous years, before the league announced it would be cracking down on sign-stealing. This was done as far back as 2015. The rules on sign-stealing then had a lot of “gray area” so the Yankees weren’t disciplined. A player who was with the Yankees and part of the scheme said, “I’m just telling you from a broad perspective, living it, it didn’t feel that wrong. It was there for everyone, that’s all.”

The Yankees and MLB could be seeking to keep this letter sealed as a standard operating procedure. There are sound legal reasons for wanting this letter to remain sealed beyond simply hiding guilt. They could also be doing so to prevent themselves from being outed. If the contents of the letter differ from what Manfred said in the press release concerning the league’s investigation into the Yankees, it could be another bombshell controversy for the league that has been embroiled in controversy.

Judge Jed Rakoff, who made the Friday ruling on the letter, writes that the Yankees’ and MLB’s privacy interests are “modest at best, and not nearly strong enough to overcome the robust presumption of access that attaches to the Yankees Letter.” We’ll have to see if the Yankees — and the league — get their way with an emergency appeal.

Royals outfielder Gordon to retire after 14 seasons

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Kansas City Royals outfielder Alex Gordon, the former first-round pick whose rollercoaster career took him from near bust to All-Star and Gold Glove winner, announced Thursday he will retire after the season.

Gordon was the second overall pick in the 2005 first-year player draft following a standout career at Nebraska, where he won the Golden Spikes Award as the best amateur in baseball. He made his big league debut two years later and, after a few years shuttling back and forth to the minors, moved from third base to the outfield and finally found success.

He wound up playing his entire 14-year career in Kansas City, joining only George Brett and Frank White as position players with that much longevity with the franchise. He heads into a weekend four-game series against Detroit with the third-most walks (682), fourth-most homers (190), fifth-most doubles (357) and sixth-most games played (1,749) in club history.

The three-time All-Star also holds the dubious distinction of being the Royals’ career leader in getting hit by pitches.

While he never quite hit with the kind of average the Royals hoped he would, Gordon did through sheer grit turn himself into one of the best defensive players in the game. He is the only outfielder to earn seven Gold Gloves in a nine-year span, a number that trails only White’s eight for the most in franchise history, and there are enough replays of him crashing into the outfield wall at Kauffman Stadium or throwing out a runner at the plate to run for hours.

Gordon won the first of three defensive player of the year awards in 2014, when he helped Kansas City return to the World Series for the first time since its 1985 championship. The Royals wound up losing to the Giants in a seven-game thriller, but they returned to the Fall Classic the following year and beat the Mets in five games to win the World Series.

It was during the 2015 that Gordon hit one of the iconic homers in Royals history. His tying shot off Mets closer Jeurys Familia in Game 1 forced extra innings, and the Royals won in 14 to set the tone for the rest of the World Series.

Gordon signed a one-year contract to return this season, and he never considered opting out when the coronavirus pandemic caused spring training to be halted and forced Major League Baseball to play a dramatically reduced 60-game schedule.

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