When tipped off to the New York Times' story on Tuesday morning, my initial reaction was: "The organization could not have possibly been that stupid about corporate espionage, could they?"
Two days later, I still think that initial reaction is probably the most correct one. I remain open to updating my priors should any other information come out, but this certainly looks like the work of an internet amateur with lots of time on their hands and a boatload of vengeance for Jeff Luhnow.
Who's to say why that is, and any discussion of it at this point would be purely speculative in nature, but that doesn't really matter does it? This person worked for the Cardinals, and if you've received so much as a ticket from the organization or wear Cardinal apparel to work on casual Friday, that immediately indicts the entire organization in any wrong doing in the court of public opinion by merely having agency with an individual acting upon their own free will.
"Of course," say the conspiracy theorists, "that's exactly what John Mozeliak would want you to think."
You can't reason one out of a position that they didn't reason themselves into, so there's no substantive conversation to have with a person who's already decided that the only reason for the Cardinals' massive success over the last two decades is that they must have been "cheating" the entire time.
Such is the state of our discourse in Sportslandia.
The passage I found most interesting from the Times story was this one.
Investigators believe that Cardinals personnel, concerned that Mr. Luhnow had taken their idea and proprietary baseball information to the Astros, examined a master list of passwords used by Mr. Luhnow and the other officials when they worked for the Cardinals. The Cardinals employees are believed to have used those passwords to gain access to the Astros’ network, law enforcement officials said.
Apparently even the brightest analytical minds manages his passwords like a noob.
The most interesting thing, however, is the reason for the alleged attack: Whoever this was seemed to think that Mr. Luhnow had taken proprietary information from the Cardinals information system and built it into his system with the Astros.
Two things strike me:
- If one believes they stole your info, it wouldn't make a whole lot of sense to go looking for information in the other team's database would it? Because you would already have that information.
- If the Cardinals truly built an information system or algorithm that nobody else in baseball had, it's only really proprietary if the Cardinals have intellectual property protections on it. It's very likely that they don't, as IP for software and algorithms is very hard to come by (and especially so when developed using public data sets), so it's hard to believe that the Cardinals brass really cared as they likely would have expected Luhnow to develop something similar to Redbird when he took the GM job in Houston.