Judge Tosses Suit Against MLB for Sign-Stealing Scheme, But Rips Red Sox, Astros

In throwing out the suit brought by five daily fantasy players, Rakoff invoked the New England Patriots' "Spygate" scandal from 2007

The lawsuit against Major League Baseball filed by daily fantasy game players, who claimed to be harmed by the Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal has been dismissed but not without harsh criticism of the teams by a federal judge.

U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in his ruling blasted the Red Sox and Astros for "shamelessly" breaking both baseball's rules and "the hearts of all true baseball fans."

In throwing out the suit brought by five daily fantasy players, Rakoff invoked the New England Patriots' "Spygate" scandal from 2007, agreeing with MLB lawyers' contention that rulings in similar suits brought by fans against the NFL after the Patriots were caught illegally taping opponents' defensive signals had set a legal precedent for this suit against MLB to be dismissed. 

While the suit charged that the Red Sox and Astros had engaged in consumer fraud that created "corrupt" and "dishonest" fantasy contest for companies such as Draft Kings, Rakoff agreed with previous decisions in the NFL cases that ruled fans should know teams will look for any advantage - even "foul deeds" to try and win.

From Rakoff's ruling: 


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[D]id the initial efforts of those teams, and supposedly of Major League Baseball itself, to conceal these foul deeds from the simple sports bettors who wagered on fantasy baseball create a cognizable legal claim? On the allegations here made, the answer is no.

The Astros' sign-stealing scheme led MLB to fine the team $5 million and the one-year suspensions and subsequent firings of manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow. The Red Sox parted ways with manager Alex Cora, who, according to MLB's report, was the mastermind of the scheme as Houston's bench coach in 2017. 

That team won the World Series, as did the 2018 Red Sox, who are accused of using a similar system to steal signs under Cora.

MLB has yet to release a report on the Red Sox allegations. Commissioner Rob Manfred said it has been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic but will be released before MLB begins its 2020 season. In comments last month in court an MLB lawyer seem to imply the Red Sox are aware of Manfred's findings, and that they disagree with them.


Red Sox owner John Henry spoke with other club officials Wednesday following the departure of Alex Cora.
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