The St. Louis Cardinals have been a thorn in the Los Angeles Dodgers side, literally and figuratively, in the past few seasons.
A Joe Kelly fastball broke Hanley Ramirez’s rib in Game 1 of the 2013 NLCS and the pain in his side was enough to calm his hot bat in a series the Cardinals eventually won 4-2. In 2014, Ramirez’s rib was fine, but Clayton Kershaw and the Dodger bullpen faltered in the later innings causing the Dodgers to drop the NLDS, 3-1. This season, the Dodgers lost five of seven to the Cardinals, including losing three of four at Dodger Stadium.
The Cardinals are often referred to as one of the top organizations in baseball, not just on the field, but off the field. They have made the NLCS nine times since 2000 with two World Series Championships in that time. What’s become known as “the Cardinal way” is a reliance on home-grown talent, fundamentals and winning baseball.
On Tuesday, that branding took a hit when Michael S. Schmidt of the New York Times reported the team was being investigated:
The F.B.I. and Justice Department prosecutors are investigating whether front-office officials for the St. Louis Cardinals, one of the most successful teams in baseball over the past two decades, hacked into internal networks of a rival team to steal closely guarded information about player personnel.
Investigators have uncovered evidence that Cardinals officials broke into a network of the Houston Astros that housed special databases the team had built, according to law enforcement officials. Internal discussions about trades, proprietary statistics and scouting reports were compromised, the officials said.
Nobody has been fired or suspended at this time, but the Astros, Cardinals and MLB are all cooperating with the investigation. If the Cardinals are found guilty, it’s unknown what would happen or how they would be penalized. This would mark the first case like it in any sport, although the New England Patriots of the NFL were once caught filming their opposing team.
The motive appears to be getting back at Astros GM Jeff Luhnow, who used to work in St. Louis:
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 investigation will add another interesting storyline to the MLB season, and could come with some major penalties pending results.