Have Cardinals been hacking the standings, too?

For a couple of weeks now, I’ve been trying to come up with something interesting to say about the St. Louis Cardinals, whom at the moment have THE BEST RECORD IN BASEBALL despite having lost their best pitcher and (lately) one of the best hitters.

The simple answer, of course: It’s the organization, stupid.

I still think that’s the right answer. But in the wake of today’s blockbuster news about the Cardinals probably hacking into the Astros’ computer system, there will be a great number of questions about that organization.

It’s early, but I do have a few thoughts about this:

– In retrospect, of course it was the Cardinals. We knew somebody hacked into the Astros’ system last summer — as you’ll recall, it was big news — and what better candidates than the Cardinals, so familiar with Jeff Luhnow, Sig Mejdal, and others who jumped ship? As today’s report points out, people in the Cardinals’ front office had access to the passwords used by Luhnow, et al, when they worked for the Cardinals. And we all have our password tendencies.

– Again according to Michael Schmidt’s reporting in the Times, "Agents soon found that the Astros’ network had been entered from a computer at a home that some Cardinals officials had lived in." Of course top-ranking "officials" usually don’t live together, so this suggests lower-level employees did the actual hacking. That doesn’t mean their bosses didn’t know. But they might at least have plausible deniability.

– Much of this might just seem like boys being boys. But if the F.B.I.’s involved, it’s not a joke. And while I certainly don’t want to see anyone going to jail over this, if the allegations are true, MLB has to come down on the Cardinals hard. If only to discourage or forestall escalating cyber-war between teams.

What might that look like? I don’t know. You probably can’t yank draft picks, because draft picks are part of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. You can’t make them play with 24 players for the rest of the season; same reason. About all you can do, I think, is suspend some or all of the guilty individuals and levy one hell of a fine.

One hell of a story, huh?