from the running-redbirds dept
If you're a baseball fan, as all good Americans are, and you have never lived in St. Louis, you probably hate the Cardinals. Don't feel bad if you do, they're quite easy to hate. No other fanbase has managed to coax platitudes out of the team and local media like the common refrain that Cards fans are "the best fans in baseball." Groan. Few other teams outside of college football programs tend to go on and on about "the Cardinal way" and how they "do things the right way" like the redbirds do. The problem is that the Cardinals have been an excellent baseball team for pretty much ever, always managing success with a minimal number of lean years.
Perhaps it's partly because they're cheaters on the level of committing federal crimes in order to gain an advantage -- at least according to reports coming out today. The news broke today that the FBI has become involved in investigating whether members of the Cardinals front office illegally gained entry to a proprietary database on player files, projections, statistics and trade maps owned by the Houston Astros.
Investigators have uncovered evidence that Cardinals officials broke into a network of the Houston Astros that housed special databases the team had built, according to law enforcement officials. Internal discussions about trades, proprietary statistics and scouting reports were compromised, the officials said.Even those of you not prone to caring about professional sports will likely recognize that this is a full-on shit-hitting-fan moment for a professional organization. The "hack", as it's being called, is the kind of low-tech stuff that most of these stories involve, but that doesn't change the fact that this situation seems to be the exact kind of thing the CFAA was designed around. The background on this is that Astros General Manager used to work for the Cardinals, where he developed this database of statistics and scouting methods. When the Astros hired him away, he ported his work over to be used with his new franchise. Somehow he was allowed to use the exact same passwords from his Cardinals days, which allowed somebody from the rival team to log in and begin pulling data. Ten months ago, that data was, for some reason, released into the wild, embarrassing the Astros and yanking away any advantage the proprietary system might have yielded them. The Astros reported the hack to the league office, which involved the FBI.
The officials did not say which employees were the focus of the investigation or whether the team’s highest-ranking officials were aware of the hacking or authorized it. The investigation is being led by the F.B.I.’s Houston field office and has progressed to the point that subpoenas have been served on the Cardinals and Major League Baseball for electronic correspondence.
Word from early on in the FBI's investigation seems to leave little doubt that someone at the Cardinals, if not many someones, is involved. Oh, and very, very stupidly involved, too.
The Cardinals front-office executives who hacked into the Astros’ database are extremely dumb. You can’t even give them credit for being l337 H4x0rs because all these dummies did was use one of the old passwords Astros GM Jeff Luhnow used when he worked for the Cardinals, and they did it from their own goddamn home, which made it very easy for FBI to track them down. Here is a tip: If you’re going to commit corporate espionage, don’t do it from your home computer. Go find, like, an internet cafe or something.But the thing about the CFAA is that its punishment doesn't correct for technical proficiency, so a "low-level hack," as this is being called, is still a hack and still falls under the law's purview. Dumb sports team or not, this is a federal crime, and the fact that people are going to lose their jobs may be the least of those peoples' concerns. We could be talking about real jail time here.
Regardless, the Cardinals way is dead, unable to pull itself from a muck of its own making.