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):
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.