U.S. judge throws out Major League Baseball sign: stealing lawsuit


NEW YORK (Reuters) – A U.S. judge on Friday threw out a lawsuit seeking to hold Major League Baseball, the Houston Astros and the Boston Red Sox liable to DraftKings fantasy baseball bettors for the sport’s sign-stealing scandal.

Although both teams “shamelessly” used electronic devices to steal signs, U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan said statements by the teams and baseball commissioner Rob Manfred about the sport’s integrity did not make them liable to DraftKings participants who wagered on tainted games.

Rakoff also found no legal obligation for the defendants to disclose the practice, and that supposed denials by now-fired Astros manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow that the team stole signs did not justify letting the lawsuit proceed.

The Astros and Red Sox “broke the hearts of all true baseball fans,” Rakoff wrote. “But did the initial efforts of those teams, and supposedly 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.”

Lawyers for the plaintiffs did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Major League Baseball, the Astros and their lawyers had no immediate comment or could not immediately be reached. A Red Sox spokeswoman declined to comment.

In January, Major League Baseball found that the Astros improperly used technology to decode signs between opposing pitchers and catchers and relayed the information to batters so they would know what pitches were coming.

Manfred fined the Red Sox in September 2017 for using an Apple Watch to capture signs from the New York Yankees.

The lawsuit covered alleged sign-stealing from 2017, when the Astros won the World Series, through 2019.

The Astros have also faced lawsuits by season ticket holders who said sign-stealing enabled the team to raise ticket prices, and by former Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Mike Bolsinger, who said a bad August 2017 outing against the team derailed his career.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Dan Grebler