Major League Baseball is dealing with two controversies today, and they both stem from the state of Missouri.
In St. Louis, officials of the St. Louis Cardinals are scrambling to defend themselves amid charges they hacked into the scouting department online files of the Houston Astros. They did this because former Cardinals executive Jeff Luhnow is currently the Astros’ general manager, and apparently, he did not change his passwords when he transferred delicate scouting information from his Cardinals computer to his Astros computer in 2012.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is involved in this scandal, in which the Cardinals are accused of stealing information about trade considerations, statistics and scouting reports.
This represents not only the first-ever case of one professional sports team hacking into accounts of another sports team, but is also one of the first cases of information being stolen through online access involving one American business firm against another.
What makes this case even more intriguing is that the St. Louis Cardinals are arguably the most revered team in Major League Baseball. The Cardinals are not only successful currently, with nine appearances in the National League Championship Series in the last 14 seasons, but also one of the historically most successful teams, with 11 World titles overall, second only to the New York Yankees.
Although many fans of National League teams hate the Cardinals the way baseball fans outside of New York generally hate the Yankees, many people respect the way the Cardinals do business, growing their own talent and avoiding the success-by-free agent route the Yankees have taken so often.
Now, the Cardinals are going to be faced with a lot of questions about that success, even though evidence indicates this is an isolated case of one man’s failure to protect his information, and a team’s decision to take advantage of that mistake.
There are also many questions being asked about just what vital information the Cardinals gained in their thievery.
Meanwhile, on the western edge of Missouri, the Kansas City Royals are enjoying a third consecutive season of success on the field, and their first as defending American League champions. As of June 18, the Royals enjoy a 3 ½ game lead in the American League Central Division.
In honor of the team’s recent success, fans of the Royals have been voting like mad online for the 2015 All-Star Game, which will be played in Cincinnati on July 14. Because of the rabid loyalty of Royals fans, the Royals currently have eight players atop their respective positions in the All-Star balloting, which means if balloting ended today, the starting lineup of the American League would include eight Royals and Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels.
All of the voting for the All-Star Game is done online these days (no more paper ballots at the parks), and fans are limited to voting 35 times. Major League Baseball does a significant amount of security work to make sure the system is not abused. Every year since online balloting has been done, MLB says approximately 20 percent of ballots are thrown out for violations of the rules.
Baseball, in fact, loves the fact the Royals are being so well feted.
“I think what is happening is great,’’ said Bob Bowman, MLB president of business and media. “But are some people overzealous? That comes with the territory. There is a substantial digital trail that comes with this. It is not new. It’s just getting a lot more press because the Royals are more involved now.”
This is a win-win for MLB, which is getting more attention to its all-star game than in years past. Viewing of the game itself might go up just due to the oddity of the situation. Those are win-wins for MLB.
Missouri summers are brutal. The heat and humidity can make doing just about anything stressful. Baseball is an escape for those people.
Now, on both sides of the state, there is something to take about, both on the field and off.