FBI investigating Cardinals’ alleged hacking of Astros’ computer system – USA TODAY
ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Cardinals confirmed Tuesday that they are under federal investigation to determine if members of their front office hacked into the Houston Astros’ internal database.
“The St. Louis Cardinals are aware of the investigation into the security breach of the Houston Astros’ database,” the team said in a statement. “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.”
The FBI and the Justice Department uncovered evidence that front-office officials for the Cardinals hacked into the internal networks of the Astros to potentially steal information, as first reported by the New York Times.
A law enforcement official who is not authorized to comment publicly acknowledged the existence of the inquiry first reported in the Times.
The FBI in Houston declined to comment on the matter, issuing a brief statement indicating that it “aggressively investigates all potential threats to public and private sector systems.”
“Once our investigations are complete,” the statement said. “we pursue all appropriate avenues to hold accountable those who pose a threat in cyberspace.”
This would represent the first known case of corporate espionage involving professional sports teams.
The FBI and Justice Department officials did not specify which Cardinals officials were the focus of the investigation or whether they were aware of it. Yet, the FBI’s Houston field office has issued subpoenas to the Cardinals and Major League Baseball officials for electronic correspondence, according to the Times.
Certainly, there has been mistrust between the organizations since the Astros hired Jeff Luhnow to be their general manager in December 2011. Luhnow had been directly involved in the Cardinals’ scouting and player development.
“Major League Baseball has been aware of and has fully cooperated with the federal investigation into the illegal breach of the Astros’ baseball operations database,” MLB said in a statement. “Once the investigative process has been completed by federal law enforcement officials, we will evaluate the next steps and will make decisions promptly.”
It’s unknown what discipline Commissioner Rob Manfred could levy against the Cardinals, and whether one of baseball’s most storied franchises could be fined or surrender draft picks. Yet, no Cardinals official has been suspended or fired.
Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt and general manager John Mozeliak declined to comment. Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said he was called out of his morning workout and was informed of the story, but had no direct knowledge of the investigation.
“Right now, we just go about our business and realize it’s something that’s being dealt with,” Matheny said. “This is an uncontrollable (distraction) for us as a club. We’ll just focus on what we do, which is play baseball.”
Certainly, the allegations are a blow to the image of a club widely considered a model organization. The Cardinals have baseball’s best record, 42-21, and have reached the National League Championship Series four consecutive years, with two pennants and a World Series title.
According to the Times, the Cardinals built a computer network called Redbird during the period Luhnow was with the club, and the netowrk housed much of their baseball operations information, including scouting reports and personnel information. Yet, Mozeliak currently keeps all of his trade information on written notes stashed in folders in his office.
Luhnow built a similar system called Ground Control, and according to the Times, Cardinals officials used those same passwords to gain access to the Astros’ network. The FBI discovered that the Astros’ network had been entered from a computer used in the home that some Cardinals’ officials resided.
Contributing: Kevin Johnson