News broke Monday (January 30th) that Major League Baseball was reportedly fining the Cardinals $2 million for hacking a computer database of prospects and minor league players owned by the Houston Astros. In addition, the Cardinals will be stripped of their second and third round draft picks in the 2017 MLB Draft. Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the punishment handed down to the St Louis Cardinals from Commissioner Rob Manfred: the $2 million fine will be directly reimbursed to the Houston Astros, in addition to the two draft picks forfeited by the St. Louis Cardinals. Not only are the Cardinals punished, but the fine directly benefits the Houston Astros.
In what is perhaps the first major disciplinary action Rob Manfred has made as commissioner of baseball, the unique nature of this fine (sending the fine money and draft picks to the affected team) set a refreshing new precedent in major league baseball. The Cardinals staffers who stole information from the Astros directly affected Houston’s ability to scout personnel in a confidential and personal manner. This punishment not only sends a clear message ($2 million is the highest amount allowable under the new CBA) that these actions will not be condoned in baseball, but also benefits the teams who were the victims of the actions. This upcoming year, the Houston Astros will have $2 million more for personnel, and two more prospects thanks to the actions of the St. Louis Cardinals staff who performed this federal crime.
It is unknown the scope or level of intelligence the Cardinals were able to acquire from the Astros database breach, but hopefully these punishments send a message to the Cardinals and teams league-wide that these actions will not be tolerable. As a Cardinals fan living in the Houston-area, I’m happy to put this situation behind us, but more importantly, I’m happy to see fair retribution to the Astros franchise as a result of the Cardinals’ poor actions.
Also, to all my fellow Cardinals fans, please never be this guy: