A class-action lawsuit by daily fantasy sports players maintaining that they were cheated by the Houston Astros' and Boston Red Sox's illegal sign-stealing was thrown out by a federal judge in New York on Friday.
The plaintiffs maintained that the two teams' actions made daily fantasy games "corrupt and dishonest." The suit had targeted Major League Baseball and DraftKings, which is partially owned by MLB.
However, Judge Jed Rakoff of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York dismissed the claim, even though he lambasted the Astros and the Red Sox for "shamelessly" violating MLB's rules.
"But did 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?" Rakoff asked. "On the allegations here made, the answer is no."
Rakoff's 32-page opinion included the judge's assertion that the two implicated teams "broke the hearts of all true baseball fans."
The judge added, according to Law.com, "A sport that celebrates 'stealing,' even if only of a base, may not provide the perfect encouragement to scrupulous play. Nor can it be denied that an overweening desire to win may sometimes lead our heroes to employ forbidden substances on their (spit) balls, their (corked) bats, or even their (steroid-consuming) selves."
"But, as Frank Sinatra famously said to Grace Kelly (in the 1956 movie musical High Society), 'There are rules about such things.'"
He decided that the plaintiffs' "verbose, rhetorical, and largely conclusory complaint" didn't prove that MLB had a legal duty to bettors to prevent misdeeds by baseball players.
After an MLB investigation into the Astros' sign-stealing operation, the league fined the team the maximum allowable amount of $5 million, took away Houston's first- and second-round draft picks in 2020 and 2021, and suspended manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow for one year in a ruling made in January.
The Astros immediately fired both Hinch and Lunhow after the suspensions were announced.
The Red Sox previously were fined for illegal sign-stealing, but the full extent of their punishment has yet to be announced by MLB.
--Field Level Media