In one of the more bizarre alleged hacking stories to emerge recently, federal authorities are investigating whether employees of the St. Louis Cardinals hacked into systems belonging to the Houston Astros and got access to internal team conversations about players, trades, scouting reports, and other sensitive information.
The alleged attack against the Astros’ network is the focus of an investigation by the FBI, according to a report in The New York Times. The incident may have been the result of some inter-office issues that ended with a former Cardinals executive leaving to take a job with the Astros.
“Law enforcement officials believe the hacking was executed by vengeful front-office employees for the Cardinals hoping to wreak havoc on the work of Jeff Luhnow, the Astros’ general manager who had been a successful and polarizing executive with the Cardinals until 2011,” the New York Times story says.
Officials at Major League Baseball said that they’re aware of the investigation and the allegations and are cooperating with law enforcement.
“Major League Baseball has been aware of and has fully cooperated with the federal investigation into the illegal breach of the Astros’ baseball operations database. Once the investigative process has been completed by federal law enforcement officials, we will evaluate the next steps and will make decisions promptly,” the league office said in a statement.
The attack, such as it was, apparently involved Cardinals officials allegedly using passwords previously used by Luhnow and other former Cardinals executives to gain access to the Astros’ internal database that houses player evaluations, statistics, and other information, the Times story says.
An odd sidebar to this story is the huge disparity in the success of the Cardinals and the Astros. St. Louis is among the more successful franchises in MLB history. The team has won two World Series titles in the last eight years and 11 overall, still well behind the New York Yankees 27 titles. The Astros, meanwhile, have only been to one World Series, which they lost, and have been mired in the lower depths of MLB for decades, with only brief flashes of success.
However, Houston has made a major turnaround in the last few seasons, aided by a crop of young players such as Jose Altuve, who have led the team to the top of the American League West division. The Cardinals and Astros were division rivals for eight years, but for nearly all of that time the Cardinals were the dominant team. Since moving to the American League in 2012, the Astros have significantly improved.