MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed “concern” over the federal investigation into the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday, but said it was “just too early” to tell what, if any, repercussions the team might face.
The FBI and Justice Department are investigating members of the Cards’ front office to determine whether the organization hacked into a Houston Astros’ database to steal information.
“What has been reported, and we knew about it well in advance to the report, is an ongoing investigation with respect to an unauthorized entry into Houston’s system,” Manfred told media in Boston at a pre-scheduled press conference. “To assume that that investigation is going to prove a particular result with respect to the Cardinals, let alone to jump to the use of a word like ‘cyber attack’… we don’t know all the facts yet. It’s just too early (to know) what the facts are going to be and what action, if any, is necessary.”
Manfred added MLB’s own forensic officials have not been involved in the investigation.
“This is a federal investigation, not a baseball investigation,” he said.
The story, which first broke on Tuesday in The New York Times, is considered to be the first suspected case of corporate espionage executed by a professional sports team onto another.
The Cardinals’ hackers reportedly hacked the Astros’ database, known as “Ground Control,” and obtained information and internal discussions about trades, proprietary statistics and scouting reports.
The names of the officials under investigation were not revealed, however, it is thought to be the work of “vengeful front-office employees,” according to the Times. The employees reportedly used an old password to gain access to the system as a means of getting back at Jeff Luhnow, a former Cards executive, who left the team for the Astros in 2011 and reportedly never updated his passwords.
The relatively easy hack of the system even inspired a meme on Twitter.
Manfred didn’t address the security — or lack thereof — of the Astros’ system, but noted the team had been given the option to upgrade its protection.
“We have a technology company that quite literally is the envy of companies throughout America … and we routinely make the resources (available) to all of the clubs.”
Manfred added, however, that “each club is a individual, local undertaking” and ultimately decides for itself “what the security measures are.”