Just when you thought that the most corrupt sports organization in the world was FIFA, one of the most storied organizations in all of American sports has turned out to take part in a hacking operation that has also attracted the attention of the FBI and the Justice Department. The St. Louis Cardinals, one of the most venerable teams in MLB betting, has been accused of hacking into the internal network of another franchise, the Houston Astros, to filch some secret information about players.
A Look at the MLB Betting Update on Cardinals Hacking Controversy
Here’s what we know so far: investigators have dug up evidence that employees of the Cardinals hacked their way into a network that the Houston Astros had used to store databases that they had built over time. These databases included scouting reports, proprietary statistics and internal conversations about potential trades. The law enforcement officials still have yet to identify the specific employees for the Cardinals who are under investigation or how high within the Cardinals organization the investigation reaches. Currently, the Houston field office of the FBI is running things, and they have issued subpoenas to the Cardinals and Major League Baseball for any and all related electronic correspondence.
So why would one of baseball’s most successful franchises try to steal information from one of baseball’s least historic franchises? While the Astros currently sit in first place in the American League West, they only have one World Series appearance (2005, in a blowout loss to the White Sox) and one other playoff appearance (1980, a NLCS loss to the eventual world champion Philadelphia Phillies). According to law enforcement officials, the motive is revenge by Cardinals front-office staff against Jeff Luhnow, currently the general manager for the Astros but formerly an executive for the Cardinals who was both successful and abrasive, working there until 2011.
If the allegations turn out to be true, this would be the first known instance of corporate espionage involving the hacking of one team’s network by another team’s staff. It’s true that more and more networks are suffering from illegal intrusions, but most often these happen as hackers overseas, in places such as China and Russia, break in and steal information or trade secrets about electronics and military equipment – not information about players.
A spokesman for MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has indicated that the league is aware of the investigation and has cooperated fully with federal law enforcement authorities. No one within the Cardinals organization has yet been placed on leave, suspended or terminated. The commissioner’s office is likely to wait until the FBI investigation has come to a conclusion before taking any discipline under consideration against the franchise or specific employees.
This is one of the only times in the history of the Cardinals organization that the team has had a black mark on its reputation. Since 2000, the Cardinals have appeared in the National League Championship Series nine times and most recently won a World Series in 2011, giving the team 11 total titles. Between 1994 and 2012, the St. Louis Cardinals and Astros both played in the National League Central division. During that time, Luhnow was a rising figure in the Cardinals organization, developing innovative ways to use metrics to construct one of the best minor league systems in all of baseball and drafting some players who would become key players of that 2011 title team. With Houston, Luhnow has created a major turnaround.
The hacking apparently began in 2013, when members of the Cardinals organization tried to use some of the master passwords that Luhnow had used in St. Louis on the Houston database, and because he used some of the same ones, they were able to access the network. Further developments will be forthcoming as the FBI concludes its investigation.