The St. Louis Cardinals are the subject of an investigation by the FBI and the Justice Department for allegedly hacking into the player information database of the Houston Astros.
The St. Louis Cardinals are the subject of an FBI and Justice Department investigation.
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According to The New York Times' Michael S. Schmidt, investigators are looking into an alleged hacking attempt by the Cardinals of the Houston Astros' player database. Among the information acquired include propriety statistics and scouting reports.
The officials did not specify the names of the employees. They also didn't say if Cardinals' management was aware of the alleged hacking attempt. The investigation is at the point where "subpoenas have been served on the Cardinals and Major League Baseball for electronic correspondence," per Schmidt.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Derrick Goold confirmed that the Cardinals are the subject of an FBI investigation in his June 16 update.
Investigators believe the Cardinals empoloyees were intent on destroying the handiwork of Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow, who enjoyed a successful front office career with St. Louis until 2011, per Schmidt.
Luhnow was in charge of scouting and player development at a time when the Cardinals and Astros were both in the National League Central division. He was recognized for building the best minor league system and acquiring key players for the Cardinals' 2011 World Series championship team, per The New York Times.
The Astros hired Luhnow several months after St. Louis won that year's World Series. He has since turned the fortunes of the franchise around. As of June 16, Houston is sitting atop the American League West division with a 38-28 (.576) win-loss mark.
Investigators told Schmidt the hacking attempt took place in 2013. Luhnow and his staff ogranized a computer network called "Redbird" while he was still with the Cardinals. When he moved to Houston, he created "Ground Control."
According to Bloomberg.com's Joshua Green, "Ground Control" organizes several variables "and weighs them according to the values determined by the team's statisticians, physicist, doctors, scouts and coaches."
Schmidt stresses the Cardinals employees did not like the idea of Luhnow organizing the system they had so much success with in Houston. Investigators believe they used passwords used by Luhnow and other former Cardinals employees who now work for the Astros.
The league noticed the Astros' network had been hacked, prompting it to notify the FBI. Investigators in the FBI's Houston office told The New York Times on Tuesday they traced the activity from the residence of several Cardinals officials.
The New York Times update says this is the first case of corporate espionage involving a professional sports team tapping into another team's database. Illegal activities of the same nature are common nowadays, but normally take place overseas in countries such as Russia and China. Information pertaining to military equipment and electronics is usually the subject of the said activities.
Schmidt obtained a statement from MLB commissioner Rob Manfred which says the league "has been aware of and has fully cooperated with the federal investigation into the illegal breach of the Astros' baseball operations database."
Manfred told ESPN on Tuesday the case is more of "a federal investigation" than a league investigation. He added the league will not take action until all of the facts and evidence have been taken into account.
So far, no action has been taken against the Cardinals' employees. The league is most likely going to wait for the outcome of the investigation before taking action, per The New York Times.
Schmidt also secured a statement from the Cardinals regarding the matter:
"The St. Louis Cardinals are aware of the investigation into the security breach of the Houston Astros' database. The team has fully cooperated with the investigation and will continue to do so. Given that this is an ongoing federal investigation, it is not appropriate for us to comment further."
Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak declined comment, per Goold.
"Something is going on," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny told ESPN. "We don't know how to react at all until we have more information, so we don't."
ESPN legal analyst Roger Cossack said the federal investigation is drawing to a close.
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