This decision was repeated over and over again by the team and the league – including in court, as they tried and Failed To prevent Release “Yankees Letter” It is as if a decision came from heaven on high. As if it was so obvious that the commissioner wouldn’t have judged otherwise.
In fact, the commissioner made a crucial decision in 2017. He Choose Only to find that the Yankees (the Red Sox, whose office also investigated them at the time) were not breaking the rules of the sport by decoding the signals in their video rooms. And because it was a choice, a different outcome was possible.
Players and staff used the video equipment in the sport’s new Replay Challenge system to learn the sequence of opponent’s signals. Then, players will get this information back to the bunker and to the contestants, who can easily decode the catcher and tell the hitter on the board what’s going to happen.
However, this behavior in itself, Manfred decided, was not illegal.
The letter of the law in 2017 could and should have been more specific; Manfred and his people heralded an extended reboot into the sport, and the rules should also have been updated before an issue arose. But he and his office did not anticipate the problem (and this lack of foresight, in turn, helped exacerbate the problem).
However, there was a rule already in the books in 2017. It reads: “The use of electronic equipment during the game is restricted. … No equipment may be used for the purpose of stealing banners or transmitting information designed to give the club an advantage.”
Video playback equipment, the last one we checked, consumes electricity. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the Yankees and the Red Sox were using electronic equipment far beyond the intended means and for illicit gain, and they did so in violation of the rule. Perhaps the assessment was clear and correct.
What Manfred decided instead was that it would be a violation if the information learned in those rooms were subsequently transmitted via electronics. If there is a wearable device involved, such as the one used by the Red Sox, or a cache phone, such as the Yankees used.
“At the time, the use of the replay room to decode tags was not expressly prohibited by MLB rules as long as the information was not electronically transmitted to the bunker,” the MLB said in its Tuesday statement.
But this particularity wasn’t actually written into the rule back then either. These are all interpretations chosen by Manfred.
Now, Manfred would have thought it would be unfair to tell players that some uses of video replay are legal, and others aren’t, without specifying them beforehand. But most any device you can imagine will have reasonable uses and illegal uses, and the belief that every device should be specifically spelled out ahead of time is a stretch. Just because a rule is general does not mean that it cannot be enforced.
Perhaps Manfred’s concerns were more practical. This was September 2017, and the playoffs were approaching. Manfred did not want to suspend players or individuals from one team, but two teams close to the Annex. If he pursued players, he would battle with the players guild over penalties. The Red Sox and the Yankees, for example, have long been important franchisees in the sport.
But don’t lose sight of the convenience of the decision either. Avoid precedent. If other teams are caught doing the same until September 2017, Manfred doesn’t have to punish them. Because Manfred decided that the behavior of the video room was not a cause for punishment, he did not then have to publicly detail what was happening in those rooms. It can be ambiguous.
So in his 2017 statement, Manfred wrote that “the proliferation of technology, especially technology used in the restart process, has made it more difficult to monitor appropriate and inappropriate uses of electronic equipment.”
The commissioner also said that “our investigation revealed that clubs used different strategies to decode signals that do not violate our rules.”
This hardly explains how much was going on.
The Yankees’ letter did not reveal more than the public already knew what the Yankees did. the athlete mentioned On the Yankees’ video room behavior in 2020. But ask a different question: How does the message line up with what Manfred and the MLB have told the world?
The commissioner’s public statement in 2017, issued at the same time as the letter, does not explain what was going on about as much. It was a soup of jumbled words that left the reader guessing about a cached phone, and tried to suggest that the cached phone was just plain simple.
“In the course of our investigation, we learned that during a previous championship season (prior to 2017) the Yankees violated a rule governing cached phone use. No club complained of the behavior involved at the time, and without prompting from another club or my office, the Yankees stopped the conduct in question,” the statement said. Furthermore, the essence of the communications that occurred on the cached phone was not a violation of any rule or regulation per se. Instead, the breach occurred because a cached phone cannot technically be used for such communication.”
Think how different it would have been if Manfred had come out again in 2017 and said something along the lines of, well, what he said privately in a Yankees letter (read it in full) here), which was sent to General Manager Brian Cashman.
“The Yankees’ use of the cached phone to transmit information about rival club marks during the 2015 season, and part of the 2016 season, constitutes a material violation of the Replay Review Regulations,” Manfred wrote in the letter posted on Tuesday. “By using the phone in the video review room to instantly transmit information about signals to the bunker in violation of regulations, the Yankees were able to provide real-time information to players regarding the opposing club’s signing sequence – the same objective of the Red Sox scheme that was the subject of the Yankees’ complaint.”
Manfred’s goal when he fined the Red Sox and Yankees was to end the conduct, and in the end, this may have been where his choice was to rid the Red Sox and Yankees of improper use of the video room.
Players and teams did not take Manfred’s punishment for the Yankees and Red Sox seriously. The following year, the Red Sox team used the video room to decode the signals again, having appointed a manager who came from 2017. Houston Astros. Inside 2017, those stars kept Electronic tag thefteven after the Yankees and the Red Sox were fined — and they continued to do so in a way that was even more egregious than video room decoding.
Manfred’s decision in September 2017 marked a major turning point in the sport’s history, and created an intriguing idea: Had the Sox and Yankees been found guilty of using video rooms, and punished them more forcefully, could it have frightened the other teams? Maybe even the Astros have gotten rid of it?
Above all else, the Yankees’ message is a reminder of the commissioner’s process. Manfred first encountered a growing problem and found that two teams using their video rooms to decode signals had done so legally. This does not mean that the commissioner was right.
(Photo by Rob Manfred: Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)