Major League Baseball argued attempts to circumvent the rules are an inherent aspect of sports in a lawsuit filed by five men who took part in fantasy baseball contests.
"Rules violations — large and small, intentional and unintentional, technical and game-changing — are a never-ending source of sports television, talk radio, web and elevator commentary by sports pundits and fans alike. And fans' general awareness of the potential for infractions is underscored in this case by the fact that clubs were publicly disciplined for electronic sign-stealing violations during the 2017 regular season."
MLB is still dealing with the fallout from the Houston Astros' sign-stealing scandal. The league determined the Astros used a replay room in order to decode the signs from opposing teams and alert their hitters.
A number of people inside MLB have spoken out against the Astros and MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred for what they feel was a light penalty for Houston. Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch were suspended for one year, but none of the players involved were punished.
Manfred even caught heat from Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James:
Five men who are all fantasy contestants are suing MLB, MLB Advanced Media, the Astros and the Red Sox "claiming fraud, violation of consumer-protection laws, negligence, unjust enrichment and deceptive trade practices by teams that violated MLB's rules," per Blum.
Sports Illustrated's Michael McCann reported Feb. 7 that Kristopher Olson and Christopher Clifford, two of the men involved in the case which is now a class-action complaint, had filed suit against MLB:
"The league, Olson maintains, failed to take corrective actions and neglected to disclose the extent of wrongdoing to the public. This predicament allegedly led to 'compromised and dishonest MLB player performance statistics' that, in turn, yielded 'corrupt and tainted' DFS contests."
Per Blum, MLB pointed to a similar case in 2010 as an argument to dismiss the current suit.
In that case, a U.S. appeals court upheld a decision to dismiss a lawsuit from NFL fans in connection to the New England Patriots' Spygate scandal.
In his written opinion, Judge Robert E. Cowen determined that athletes "often commit intentional rule infractions in order to obtain an advantage," so the Patriots' tactics didn't represent exceptional circumstances.