St. Louis Cardinals 'Hackgate' Worse Than 'Deflategate'

ST. LOUIS - OCTOBER 19:  Stadium workers cover home plate with a tarp as security keeps a close eye on fans remaining in the
ST. LOUIS - OCTOBER 19: Stadium workers cover home plate with a tarp as security keeps a close eye on fans remaining in the stands following the St. Louis Cardinals 5-1 loss the Houston Astros during Game Six of the National League Championship Series October 19, 2005 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri. With the win the Astros won the series 4-2 and advanced to the World Series. The game was the last to be played in the 40 year history of Busch Stadium. A new Busch Stadium (under construction) will be the new home of the Cardinals starting with the opening of the 2006 MLB regular season. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

The revelation regarding the St. Louis Cardinals' hacking into the Houston Astros computers is highly disturbing, another scandal that is turning sports into a "gated" community. "Hackgate" is much more serious than the recent Patriots "Deflategate" in that it threatens the integrity of Major League Baseball in a fundamental way. Depending on what is revealed in the investigation, new Commissioner Rob Manfred will need to respond in a dramatic way.

The key to winning in sports is the quality of an organization and the unique concepts it uses to field a team. Ownership stability is important. The way in which teams evaluate talent, draft, trade, negotiate, create team chemistry, roster composition and coaching techniques can be proprietary and unique. Oakland A's GM, Billy Beane, used a "Moneyball" metric that enabled him to keep his team competitive for years even though it had little money to spend. The San Francisco Giants have won three of the last five World Series with their own special formula. Smart organizations with a qualitatively better plan win, even with all the parity crutches given to help weaker organizations.

The St. Louis Cardinals are an organization that has been incredibly successful. They tout "The Cardinal Way". There is resentment of what is perceived as Cardinal arrogance among other teams. Current Astro GM, Jeff Luhnow, helped create a sophisticated computer system called "Redbird" when he worked for the Cardinals. The Cardinals suspected that he took proprietary information with him to the Astros and created a new system called "Ground Control". The Astros were a team which for years had been a hapless loser. Under Luhnow's dramatic restructuring, the Astros currently sit in first place in their division. This may have motivated the hacking.

It is one thing when a player and low level staffers slightly tinker with the inflation of a football. It is a serious matter when an organization intentionally uses computer skills to try and appropriate another teams' whole methodology and master plan. This nation has been the target of computer hacking for business trade secrets and national security secrets by other nations. Using these same skills to upset the competitive balance in MLB is a serious scandal. MLB cannot afford to have teams behaving like countries at war. Unchecked, this scandal will shake the foundations of baseball.

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