Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Why would the Cardinals hack the Astros?

Oh man this has been fun. The Cardinals have been exposed as anything from vindictive little punknuts (at best) and criminally responsible for hacking into the Astros' system (at worst). The question that idiots across Twitter - and some fairly respected sports journalists - have been asking all day is, "Why would the Cardinals hack the Astros?" Or, to try to interpret their special form of mouth-breathing language, "Why would the awesome, paragons of baseball virtue Cardinals try to steal any kind of information from the lowly dumb tankin' Astros?" Some even question whether the Cardinals did anything wrong, since Luhnow apparently used the same password in Houston as he did in St. Louis.

This misses the point. As I said on Twitter in passing today, if you think it's okay to check your ex's email because you still know his/her password, then you're wondering what the Cardinals did wrong. Stealing someone's car because they left the keys in it is still stealing a car. Simplicity does not equal innocence.

So let's consider two reasons why the Cardinals would hack into the Astros' Ground Control system (with some help from my Psychology major wife):

Vengeance

It's no secret that Luhnow and his riding' partner Sig Mejdal didn't exactly get along with the dip-chewin' base ball folks in the Cardinals organization. When Deadspin published the leaks a couple of years ago, the Astros had a black eye. It was confirmation for many (and I'll raise my hand ever-so-slightly here) that Luhnow and Co. didn't know what they were doing. It was an embarrassment in a string of embarrassments for Jeff Luhnow. Between the losing, CSN Houston, Brady Aiken, and the Ground Control Hack, it was a bad couple of years. And that may have been the goal, given that the information was leaked to Deadspin, presumably - as we found out today - by the Cardinals.

This is corporate slut-shaming, and the Cardinals very well may have been behind it.

Baseball's Limited Resources

There are only so many baseball players, especially at the Major-League level. Even though the Astros and Cardinals aren't in the same division, or - and did you know this? - the same League anymore, they are still two of 30 baseball franchises competing for Major League talent. Given that Jeff Luhnow was very successful within the Cardinals organization before coming to Houston, wouldn't you - the Cardinals - like to know what he thinks about a specific player? Or how he values talent across the league? Or what trade talks have been lined up? Because once you know that information, you can adjust what you offer another team, or you can adjust how you value a specific player.

Baseball is a zero-sum game. If you trade for a player, no one else gets that player. If you sign a free agent, nobody else does. Utilizing the knowledge acquired from the Astros isn't limited to the NL Central, or the National League. That is valuable information on its own.

Maybe the answer lies somewhere between the two possibilities, or maybe - likely, even - there's a possibility I'm not considering here. Just don't go rushing to conclusions yet.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

yes, tanking to get the prospects... easy to paint us as the dummies years ago, hence the leak. wanted to be a step ahead while snubbing Houston once again. this is why you don't mess with the geeks. they get bit by one radioactive spider and you're Flash Thompson on the Bball court.

ntxlfty said...

Does anyone believe the cardinals excuse that they thought Luhnow might have made away with proprietary information of some sort? It doesn't change the illegality, but it does make a sort of rational sense.

JMay said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JMay said...

ntxifty,
The problem with that is why then release the hack to deadspin if they found nothing of proprietary importance?

In fact, that part really baffles me. You successfully hack a competitor, have continual access, and then you let everyone know that SOMEONE has committed a felony? Like getting ahold of the final exam answers then broadcasting it.

Makes me think the vengeance aspect did play a part even though I first assumed totally a competitive edge thing.

Anonymous said...

They didn't leak to Deadspin... whomever hacked the Astros posted it on Anonbin.com, where it sat for a few months. Someone pointed that out to Deadspin, and they reported on it.

Why put it on a website where you can anonymously dump information? Who knows.

street said...

Here is a decent article (from ESPN, believe it or not) about why someone might want to hack the Astros database: http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/13106874/why-houston-astros-database-worth-hacking