The Cardinals Find a Patsy Yet Still Deny Wrongdoing

His name is Chris Correa. He’s the former scouting director of the St. Louis Cardinals. Former, that is, as of yesterday, after the Cardinals made him the scapegoat of the Astros-hacking scandal that exposed the Cardinals as cheaters. The Cardinals state that his hacking into the Astros database had nothing to with Correa’s firing, but an attorney for the team states that Correa had been on an extended leave of absence before his termination.

And don’t worry, Correa claims to have admitted to know illegal activity. And Correa’s attorney is pulling out all of the stops in his nonsensical defense of his client, including blaming former Cardinals employees now working for the Astros, i.e., Jeff Luhnow.

“Mr. Correa denies any illegal conduct,” Nicholas Williams, the attorney for Correa, said yesterday. “The relevant inquiry should be what information did former St. Louis Cardinals employees steal from the St. Louis Cardinals organization prior to joining the Houston Astros, and who in the Houston Astros organization authorized, consented to or benefited from that roguish behavior?”

That roguish behavior is supposedly Luhnow or some other former Cardinals employee now working for the Astros stealing proprietary data and using that to construct the Astros database, and the claim is that Correa invaded the Astros space in order to determine whether the Cardinals data had been stolen. Now Correa might deny illegal conduct on his part, and he might claim he was doing this to set right a wrong done to his employer.. But the funny thing is, what he admits to sure as hell sounds like illegal activity. He does admit to hacking into the Astros database. And that’s an illegal activity. It doesn’t matter what reason he states for the intrusion, it’s still an unauthorized entry into someone else’s property.

The Cardinals insist that they had nothing to do with Correa’s activities because of course they would. And the team continues to insist that it had no knowledge that the Astros database had been hacked until the FBI came calling with search warrants. But probably the only people who actually believe the Cardinals' pleas of innocence are the same people who think that’s it okay to commit an illegal act to see if someone else committed an illegal act.

But this is still a matter for the Feds because it’s not up to what Correa says, and it’s not up to what the Cardinals say, it’s up to what the FBI says. If the FBI says there was an illegal hack, then there’s an illegal hack. And if the Feds determine that Correa was involved, then the odds are very strong that the Cardinals will be facing some criminal issues because that’s kind of what happens when employees do illegal activities that aid their employers.

However, with the Cardinals having outed their scouting director as the guy who hacked into the Astros database, it’s time for Major League Baseball to take some action. And that action needs to be swift, and it needs to be an action that will make teams think twice about hacking into the property of other teams. And since Correa recently ran the Cardinals' amateur draft, and since the data of the Astros that he was hacking included information on amateur players — though it was data from several years ago — the punishment is obvious.

The Cardinals must be prohibited from participating in next year’s amateur draft. The team is prohibited from making any trades for the rest of the season, and is forbidden from postseason play for this season. So that amateur players will not be punished next season, all other teams will be given extra second round draft selections — the Astros get an extra first round pick since it was the Astros database that was hacked. And if the Cardinals should finish this season in first place, or in a Wild Card position, then the players will be awarded the same playoff shares as a team that is eliminated in the first round of the playoffs, the shares to be paid by Cardinals management, of course.

This whole thing's still far from over. The Cardinals might want it over, and might hope dumping Correa gets the team off the hook, but that’s just not going to happen. Correa might be trying to cast himself as the righteous defender of all things Cardinals, but all he is is a criminal who committed an illegal act, and who has admitted to committing that illegal act. And if there’s anything good that results from any of this, it’s that no longer will the St. Louis Cardinals be known as the team that does things the right way.
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John Royal is a native Houstonian who graduated from the University of Houston and South Texas College of Law. In his day job he is a complex litigation attorney. In his night job he writes about Houston sports for the Houston Press.
Contact: John Royal