St. Louis Cardinals under FBI investigation for hacking Astros' computers

From the New York Times:

This is pretty crazy. Setting aside for a second the legal implications of corporate espionage, what might MLB do to the Cardinals?

The article seems contradictory in that it implies revenge in one instance, and then later suggests they were “concerned” that the Astros might be using proprietary Cardinals data.

I realize this story is just breaking, but I’m finding it hard to think right now that this will end up being a problem for anyone other than the specific employees involved. Deflategate, it ain’t (yet).

Still, I am definitely enjoying ribbing one of the big Cardinals fans in my firm right now, who is upset because he’s married to a Patriots fan and doesn’t want to go through the same type of drama yet again.

I think the Astros, the MLB and Manfred are setting up the Cardinals cuz they are jealous of all the success in St. Louis.

Besides, it was only a little hacking, did it REALLY help the Cardinals win? The Astros sucked even wihtout the hacking.

Pfft… scoreboard, rings, trophies.

Anyway, every team in the MLB does it… and you are all haters anyway.

Or something.

Yes! They finally got those damn Cheatinals for something! Who cares about the details of the facts, all that matters is they got the bastards! We all knew they couldn’t have won all those World Series honestly, and now we got 'em!

Or something like that, right?

Goddamn Pavlov, that bell-ringing shit works.

St Louis Cardinals: The New England Patriots of baseball

Or this from mlbtraderumors.com

While I think you’re probably right, it absolutely blows my mind that people will be less interested in this than in the stupid ball deflation thing. The ball deflation thing is really small potatoes. It’s extremely unlikely to result in a substantial advantage, near as I can tell manipulation of equipment is fairly widespread, there’s minimal evidence that the organization as a whole was implicated in what did happen. It’s cheating under any reasonable definition of that word, but to me falls under the same umbrella as scuffing the ball in baseball. Illegal, worthy of punishment… but it happens, and it’s not the end of the world.

Depending on how this works out, though, this is potentially a much bigger deal, with much larger impact on competitive balance. Why are people are up in arms about what happened in New England but likely to shrug at this?

Now that’s a lot more interesting. It makes more sense than simply, childishly spying on the Astros, as if there were any point to that in itself.

Maybe somebody’s been maliciously hacking the Red Sox’ Carmine system. It would help explain this season - well, three out of the last four, actually.

To any legal people out there:

Can Houston sue the Cardinals?

How does baseballs anti-trust exemption affect this case if at all?

Well, the relative efforts made to “cheat” were vastly different. A superstar conspiring with low-level employees via phone and text feels a lot different to me than a couple of guys sitting around saying, “Fuck that guy. I bet he still uses the same password. Let’s see if it works!”

Perhaps when more details come out, it will be more sophisticated than that, but this feels very different to me than an organized effort to cheat.

In terms of on-field impact of all the recent American professional sports cheating scandals, this one (if true) may be the “cheatiest”. Granted, the GM should have known better than to use the same passwords, but this involves multiple representatives of one team compromising the internal plans of another team with potential for impact across multiple years. The only thing that seems comparable in team sports are violations of the salary cap.

I would think a fine, loss of draft picks, and potentially some docking of the Cards’ salary cap would all be on the table. The suckiness of the Astros at the time really shouldn’t have an impact on the punishment.

I have also not seen the ownership of the Cardinals, Mike Matheny and Yadier Molina setting up emergency press conferences denying any knowledge of and demanding immediate recompense and summary prostration of all MLB execs for such heinous unwarranted accusations (that we really did).

Same reason a crappy game on cable television, between bad teams, in the NFL beats Game 1 of the World Series on FOX. Football is far and away more popular than baseball.

Salary cap? Do you mean for draft picks?

I believe that draft picks can’t be taken away because of the CBA. I could be wrong.

Edited: Rob Neyer also says that the CBA may make it impossible to take draft picks away for any infraction: http://www.foxsports.com/mlb/just-a-bit-outside/baseball-joe/blog/have-cardinals-been-hacking-the-standings-too-061615
(Though he does hedge a bit with “probably”)

You are correct on both counts, as far as I know. There are obviously some non-baseball fans in this thread just speculating aimlessly.

Not so much. There are 16 games in a football season versus 162 in MLB…makes the NFL games much more vital watching. Also, football caters to partiers and gamblers to a much larger extent than MLB boosting their ratings. Football is also on the decline for health reasons and related rule changes.

As a Cardinals partisan, this upsets me of course. I’m not sure how much this affects competitive balance or in-game results. I’ll wait to hear more details. But, yeah, bad form on the part of the Cards if true. The NYT article speaks of the activity being connected to “Cardinals officials”. I wonder if we’re talking high level execs, or lower level folks. If it’s a low-level guy taking it upon himself to stick it to the Astros, that’s one thing. If there was an order from higher up to go do this, then that’s very disappointing, and the Cards should get penalized for it.

As a security person, it also upsets me that the Cards apparently kept a list of passwords used by Luhnow and others, and then someone tried those passwords in the Astros’ system. Really, keeping plain text passwords around is a bad idea. You kids stop that. And, to Luhnow, you might want to think about using different passwords when you change jobs. Just an idea.

How do YOU measure popularity? TV ratings? The NFL wins. Preference of people who watch? The NFL wins. By more than double. And college football is just a touch behind the MLB. Revenue? Very close, but still the NFL wins. The only metric MLB wins in is total attendance, and that’s only because they play 10x as many games. And you can explain away the reasons for the NFL’s popularity by demeaning them as “partiers and gamblers” all you want, it won’t change those facts.

Football is also on the decline? What yardstick are you using?
As to this scandal, there isn’t all that much that’s known right now. But when the FBI is involved that can’t be good.

From a competitive balance POV, I am not sure I understand how much benefit the Cardinals organization received, but I am sure investigators will dig through all personnel transactions which occurred over the time frame.

But having information from only one team, and that team in the other league? I can’t see how any edge the Cardinals achieved from this could have possibly been worth the risk in getting caught.
As a Pirates fan, I’ve always been impressed by the Cardinals organization, and their sustained excellence over the decades. Unless there is a discovery that this is a widespread, organizational strategy instead of a former Astro employee using unchanged passwords to access the Houston computers, I doubt it will turn into a major problem for the Cardinals… The employees who have been caught are in trouble, but I don’t think the Cardinals organization will face any substantial penalties.
This will be interesting to watch, though. If nothing else, it will highlight the vast differences in how the NFL and their commissioner can hand out punishment vs. MLB.