I have been a St. Louis Cardinals fan since I can first remember being alive. I went crazy when Jack Buck told me to go crazy; I was glued to the TV in my college dorm room when Mark McGwire hit number 62; I mourned the passing of Darryl Kile on that horrible day at Wrigley Field; I celebrated all 445 of Albert Pujols’ home runs while he was wearing the birds on the bat; and I was at Game 6. So now that my qualifications and biases are out of the way, let’s talk about the scandal.
As you likely know, early Tuesday Michael S. Schmidt of the New York Times reported that at least one member of the St. Louis Cardinals’ front office is under investigation by the FBI and the Justice Department for allegedly hacking into the Astros’ internal database, Ground Control, and obtaining closely guarded information. If you haven’t read the story yet I highly recommend that you do so. Some of the obtained information was leaked online last year and eventually posted by Deadspin. The identity of who is being investigated, and what, if anything, was known by the Cardinals’ top brass are questions that have yet to be answered.
So this is bad. I wish it wasn’t happening but it is and the story is not going to go away for a long time. We’ll get through it though and here’s how:
Step 1: Acknowledge that this is a big deal. Because it is a big deal. We’re talking about a potential federal crime. If anyone is guilty they should be fired and probably prosecuted in the proper order. This is not something to minimize. You show me a person who ever asked, “Doesn’t the FBI have better things to do?”, and I’ll show you a person whose favorite politician, public figure, or sports team is being investigated by the FBI. The FBI is a large bureau – thousands and thousands of employees. Just because there’s a small task force in Houston and a few suits in Washington currently executing search warrants on several Cardinals’ employees’ hard drives doesn’t mean there’s all of a sudden a bunch of murderers getting away with murder.
Step 2: When the guilty parties or those with knowledge of the hack are identified, and they will be, DO NOT defend them, DO NOT make excuses for them, and DO NOT believe implausible stories of innocence. This is important. Remember when Ryan Braun claimed that his failed PED test was a frame-job from a vindictive anti-Semitic Cubs’ fan? Albeit hilarious, we don’t want to be like Ryan Braun. Any Cardinals employee whose hands are somehow bloody in this mess – or even if they just had limited knowledge of it – then some way, somehow they need to go. That includes John Mozeliak, Chris Correa, Bill Dewitt Jr., Fredbird, anybody. (For what it’s worth, Mozeliak and Dewitt released a statement yesterday denying any involvement or knowledge of the hack.)
Step 3: Don’t jump to conclusions. For example, Schmidt’s NYT piece contained this nugget (emphasis mine): “The FBI has apparently traced the source of the hacking to a house shared by some Cardinals employees.” My first thought when I read that: “Hey, this is excellent news. Anyone sharing a house with other Cardinals employees isn’t a high-level guy. This was the work of a lone-wolf intern. Take him out with the trash and let’s figure out how to trade for another starting pitcher.” Unfortunately, as Jeff Passan pointed out, that reasoning doesn’t hold much weight. The Cardinals employees were sharing a house in Jupiter, Florida, during spring training. The house could have been rented by the very top echelon of the Cardinals’ front office and probably looked like Tony Montana’s mansion in Scarface. Dammit. Point is, best to let the reporters and authorities finish their job before opining on levels of innocence or guilt. Patience is a virtue in situations like this. Few have it, but you’ll feel better about yourself in the long run if you choose to exercise it.
Step 4: Remember, you did nothing wrong. You (most likely) are completely innocent! Even if your identical twin was the Cardinals employee who typed luhnow2017 into a computer and hacked all of the Astros’ sensitive data – that is completely on your dastardly twin. Anyone who makes a value judgment on you because of which baseball team you prefer to win the World Series is an idiot. Anyone who gives you a dirty look because you’re wearing a Cardinals hat on the Metro is an idiot. Like the biggest idiot. (Speaking of, I am going to the Cardinals-Phillies game in Philly this weekend. Should be a grand old time.) You don’t have to take crap from them, your friends, co-workers, or Cubs fans. Especially Cubs fans. Frankly, and ignoring Steps 1 and 2 for a second, my main regret from this scandal is that the Cardinals weren’t hacking the Cubs. If the Cardinals are hacking anyone they should be hacking the Cubs. Maybe some of their miserable fans, too. In fact, if the Cardinals don’t have someone actively trying to hack into the Cubs’ front office right now to ensure that every living Cubs fan will die having never seen that team win a World Series then I’m angry. Cardinals, hack the Cubs. Hack them early and often. Maybe not from a residential computer this time but hack them still.
Step 5: Laugh. A good scandal begets good jokes. If someone makes a solid joke about the Cardinals, or pens a funny tweet about this scandal then you should laugh. That person isn’t trying to be an insufferable jerk; that person is trying to be funny. Or maybe both, but still! Here are some of my favorite tweets in the aftermath of when the story broke on Tuesday:
The Cardinals will post all the hacked documents on WachaLeaks.
— Steve Rushin (@SteveRushin) June 16, 2015
You get to win the 2005 NLCS, we get access to your proprietary data. That's just standard business. #stlcards
— alex fritz (@boxcar_fritz) June 16, 2015
Not saying he’s guilty, but he’s definitely a person of interest. pic.twitter.com/HqNFzeOlvi
— Matt Sebek (@MattSebek) June 16, 2015
— Dave Kaufman (@TheKaufmanShow) June 16, 2015
Step 6: It’s okay, you can still call out anyone who says something that is equally anti-Cardinals and dumb. Deadspin thinks we should all just shut up. They’re wrong. This scandal doesn’t exempt any of us from our God-given right to call out this giant heap of garbage as an absolutely horrible column. Sorry Bill Plaschke, but this is not why the Dodgers lost to the Cardinals in the 2013 and 2014 postseasons. I could list 500 things that contributed to the Dodgers losing both series before this scandal would even pop in my mind. I’m not kidding. And rest assured, there are plenty of more awful columns of similar ilk in the pipeline. Look, if we’re all being honest, we really have no clue how many games hacking into Ground Control helped the Cardinals win but I would still error on the side of zero. Does that mitigate it? Of course not. But their success since 2000 is not, I repeat, is not tainted. If you thought the Cardinals were incapable of having an employee who could do something untoward or illegal then that might be tainted but you were silly for believing that in the first place.
Step 7. Don’t read or follow @BestFansStlouis. Ever.
Step 8. Do re-watch Game 6. You can currently buy Game 6 on iTunes for $1.99. So buy it and then re-watch it like you’re watching it for the first time. It never gets old, I promise you. I already own it so if you live in the DC area you can come to my house and we can watch it together over some Schlafly and Ozzie Smith stories. Come to think of it, I’m going to do this tonight.
Step 9: Listen to games on the radio. If you’re looking to escape this mess, I’d stay close to Mike Shannon. While at work I listened to Tuesday afternoon’s game vs. the Twins on the radio and Shannon didn’t mention the scandal once even though the story had broken a few hours prior. Perhaps that was by team design but I imagine when informed of the news Shannon just shrugged and said, “Hacking? Heh, I remember when old Red was pretty hacked off at the third base umpire when he called out Lou trying to steal third. Oh boy, Red gave him the business that day, yes he did. Heh.” (Mind you, listening to Shannon on the radio means you’ll probably sacrifice knowing the actual score of the game.)
Step 10: Keep loving the Cardinals. The players and the family and friends whom you share this team with are not responsible. Willie McGee did not do this. Your mother who turned you onto the Cardinals when you were young did not do this. Anyone who truly matters in the grand scheme of things to your relationship with this franchise did not do this. And this season has been an absolute joy. They are 43-22. Adam Wainwright gets injured, they keep winning. Matt Adams, Jordan Walden, Matt Holliday, Lance Lynn all hurt and they keep winning. The entire front office might get sent to the federal pen in Marion, Illinois, and they’ll keep winning and we’ll keep loving this team. It’s what we do.Next post: Samardzija and Semien – Look on the Bright Side!
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