The St. Louis Hackingbirds
And so it appears that some enterprising folks in the St. Louis front office were sorting through the rich data compiled by Jeff Luhnow for yet undetermined reasons. Undetermined my ass. Before I address this transgression let’s get a few things out of the way.
First, I don’t hate the Cardinals. I covet their rich baseball history. I have good friends in St. Louis and have enjoyed a game in their home and it’s a damn nice house. The St. Louis fans I have encountered at the JuiceBox by and large are friendly, baseball-smart people. I bristled when one sat next to my season seat and cheered on his Redbirds. That is until he tapped me on the shoulder to chat about Houston’s farm system. Dude knew more about our young prospects than I did. When the game was over and the visitors had put up a W, he approached me again and shook my hand, thanking me for a great game and letting me know how much he enjoyed the JuiceBox. All animosity melted away and I was completely disarmed. When the Astros clinched a World Series berth in 2005 in St. Louis, Cards fans gave my Stros a standing ovation. That’s class. That’s baseball, man.
Do I think the Cardinals organization orchestrated the hack? Not a chance. I’m not saying they are choirboys who don’t smolder with devious embers seeking any angle to win. They just have too much class and history at stake to do something that galactically dumb. The ownership would recoil at the idea of winning at the expense of their reputation. Everyone get that? Don, do you understand? Now here comes some tough love.
Baseball math, like long division, takes time and the results are not revealed until well down the page. Take Carlos Correa; he didn’t burst onto the scene after Luhnow signed him up outside a Burger King in East Texas. Years ago he was scouted extensively and expensively in Puerto Rico and eventually signed. Then he worked his way through the minors. For every Carlos Correa there are a dozen players who couldn’t make the long ride to the Show and faded away into jobs where they still lament their long since vaporized baseball careers. Information and decisions in baseball math don’t materialize into success for years.
The Cards hacking started in 2012. That means the fruits of that malignant mining effort would only now begin to bloom. And those harvesting the products are thieves of the highest order. If there is even a hint—a whiff—of a suggestion that the Cards benefitted from the hack, the league must take brutal, immediate action. Do I think for one moment that the Cards current success is the result of cheating? No way. The Cards are the gorilla in the league for a lot of reasons but none of them have to do with a couple of hammerheads who had too many Buds one evening and dialed up the Astros’ servers. But that is beside the point. A balk is a balk. Stealing signs is stealing signs. Play the game and respect the game or go the hell home.
I’m big on innocent until proven guilty. If it turns out the Cards had a couple of dudes that just wanted to rummage through Luhnow’s underwear drawer for kicks, then slap the club with a fine and move on. There is no sense in sullying a historical franchise over chump change like that. However, if it is determined that St. Louis utilized even a tiny speck of Astros information to their benefit, it’s time to drop the hammer. As great as the Cards are this season, they should not be allowed to proceed to the playoffs this season under such a cloud. It would jeopardize the integrity of the game and stain the Series. It’s painful and sad but if the Cards or any team for that matter is allowed to profit from criminal activity, it hurts us all. And while the pain of missing the Series in which the Cards rightfully belong will hurt, it will enrich them in the long run by sustaining their reputation and the integrity of the game.
And that’s all I got to say about that.