June 16, 2015

The #Cardinals in big trouble with the #FBI on #Astros hack

Luther Hackman,
Cards' IT mascot
The FBI claims that some Cardinals employees were behind a hack of the Houston Astros' computer systems, which wound up having part of the information leaked to Deadspin last year, with usual Deadspin hilarity.

Couple of quick observations, while joking that Luther Hackman is the Cards' IT mascot.

It appears it might been individual employees acting on their own, and not coordinated. But, further investigation is surely warranted. (sigh) The subpoeans are for unnamed members of the front office.

The employees allegedly thought that Luhnow had taken proprietary info, gambled that he hadn’t changed his passwords (he hadn’t) and voila.

That said, the story also notes that nobody has been suspended. Which could mean that maybe Luhnow DID take proprietary info. There’s more to be written. This could have included advanced second- or third-level sabermetrics, paid for from a private company, or some meta-sabermetrics on how to weight individual sabermetrics.

Jokes about Astros dumb and/or cheap trade ideas involving Bud Norris, Ichiro Suzuki, Xander Bogaerts. George SpringerCarlos Correa, or Giancarlo Stanton aside, this is interesting. Given that nobody, nowhere, has been suspended so far, maybe Luhnow DID steal some info.

Derrick Goold has the main story at the Post-Dispatch. He notes: 
While with the Cardinals, Luhnow helped construct a database of player information -- including scouting information, medical details, and proprietary rankings -- that was used as a clearing house for evaluating and acquiring talent. In Houston, Luhnow and his staff built "Ground Control," which an online database for use by members of the Astros' front office. 
Stay tuned to that.

Also stay tuned to Hardball Talk for more from Craig Calcaterra. Given that he's a lawyer, his legal insights may be good, and he's already delivered. The potential crime is the same thing on which the feds nailed hacker Aaron Swartz. Plus, he notes that the feds in general, including Congress on occasion, likes to make baseball into a piñata. At the same time, Craig agrees that this likely WAS a rogue operation.

Ignore a lot of commenters there. Many have multiple WordPress accounts, and it's clear that this is a "haters gonna hate" gorgefest opportunity. As for some of them? Per Craig's legal analysis, he doesn't think this is above rogue employees level. Second, with IRS employees and other things, we have actual examples of rogue employees, whether in the government or the private sector, doing this. And, that's not new, either.

Related? Jeff Gordon from the P-D notes this is an image black eye, as if we needed someone from the Cards' newspaper of record to tell us that.

The Twitter jokesters, on the other hand, I not only don't hate, I can even laugh along with them.

Meanwhile, I wonder why MLB staff as well as that of the Cardinals was subpoenaed.

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Updates: The Houston Chronicle says 4-5 employees are believed to be involved. Lester Munson of ESPN has a definitely different take on the legal angles than does Calcaterra. He says two key issues would be that the feds have to prove knowledge of criminality in advance, and that the info was available noplace else. Obviously, if Luhnow five-fingered stuff from the Cards, we're in whole new territory. That, in turn, could be why MLB as well as Cards staffers have been subpoenaed. On the other hand, if the feds were already walking down that road themselves, I would think Astros staff would also be subpoenaed.

And, saying that the possibility of Luhnow having taken proprietary materials from the Cardinals could be seen as either psychological motivation for the hack, or, after the fact, a legal defense, is different than claiming it's an ethical justification. Some commenters on sports blogs apparently don't get that, they don't want to get that.

The Cards are now doing an internal investigation.

As for whether or not the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act applies? Another Chron piece says the information hacked must be worth more than $5,000. Well, we know Luhnow's idiotic trade ideas don't pass that muster.


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