Impact News: The St Louis Cardinals are being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for possibly hacking into the computer database of the Houston Astros. The incident reportedly occurred last year into an Astros database called “Ground Control.” According to a Houston Chronicle report, the FBI is focusing on four or five individuals in the St Louis Cardinals organization. The incident has been traced to a home in Jupiter Florida that was paid for by the Cardinals for use during Spring Training.
Short Term Impact: There are two sides to this. What will Major League Baseball do and what will the Federal Government do. In the short term nothing will happen on either front. MLB will wait and see what comes from the legal side first. The FBI will continue to conduct their investigation and reportedly that will come to a conclusion in the near term. From there it is time to see how the chips fall. But for the government to issue subpoenas then they must be pretty far along with pretty strong evidence to date in order to warrant the action.
Long Term Impact: Depending on who you talk to at this time, some say this is a real crime and others do not. For the record, it is ABSOLUTELY a crime and for people like Lester Munson, ESPN Legal Analyst, to offer anything to the contrary is laughable. Take baseball out of it for a minute. It is against Federal Law and listed as so in the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act which can be further quantified by reading the data from the Cornell University Law School. Okay enough about that.
The question is not if it is a crime but rather can it be proven. For the sake of this let’s assume it can be proven because if not, nothing will happen other than the stain of a black eye on the organization and MLB. But hey, it’s not Performance Enhancing Drugs this time.
If founded, MLB will levy some kind of punishment to the organization. They will not lose championships, wins, or anything of that nature so Reds and Cubs fans should not be waiting. You can expect some combination of heavy fines, restrictions in free agency, or possible limitations to farm system regulations. The club will probably cut ties or at a minimum levy massive suspensions on the convicted to save face as well.
But make no mistake; this is not going to affect the personnel on the field or the team that is playing like the best team in baseball now. No player will be turned into a free agent or anything of that nature. The Cardinals will remain the class of the National League Central and arguably all of baseball. They will continue to excel in the years to come as well. Sorry rival fans, you are not going to get anything over the top from MLB on this one outside of monetary fines etc.
Of course, it is a new commissioner who just might decide to go rogue and test his authority but the MLBPA is pretty strong. That would be quite the battle.
The Federal Government is a whole different animal. The CFAA has varying levels of punishment depending on the offense. The challenge is, due the nature of its construct, the government tends to lean heavy on punishments and what offenses truly occurred. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has been a vocal entity in trying to fix this and in fact provided reform suggestions in the past.
But since it is what it is at this time, the offenders can expect heavy fines and up to five years in prison for each offense if convicted. The crux will be if they can prove it was for commercial advantage. But make no mistake about it, this case has no bearing on what any person might have taken to the Astros or anything else that may have led to the hacking attempts. Who is found guilty, if they are found guilty, should be worrying about their future and I am not talking about a future in baseball.
Look for more Major League Baseball Impact News like MLB Impact News: Cardinals Computer Hacking Fallout Predictions, Punishment from Sports Unbiased.