“When a pitcher throws at a batter’s chest, nobody runs to the local authorities and tries to file an assault charge. I’m not making excuses. I’m trying to explain where my head was at, as I now understand it.”
That’s a quote from Chris Correa, the rising star in the St. Louis Cardinals organization, who traded his scouting director gig for an orange jumpsuit when he hacked into the Houston Astros database using a former colleagues’ unchanged password and got caught. But it’s an interesting perspective, isn’t it?
“If another team does something wrong, you retaliate. That’s the lens through which I mistakenly viewed it, and I used that to give myself permission. It was wrong.”
Make no mistake, what he did was inarguably wrong *and* illegal, but there does still exist this little, competitive twinge in the back of mind arguing to me that just trying to win. Obviously, that’s still wrong – I know that – but it’s there. I get it. Or, at least, I get how, in the moment, someone could convince themselves that’s all they were doing, and from the sound of it, that’s how Correa saw things.
As for us, well, I think it’s probably been far too easy, especially as more time drifts by, to forget about this truly significant MLB scandal. After all, one team hacked into the database of another, sifting through proprietary information, scouting reports, notes, and so much more for years. Unbridled. I’m not sure why we – of all fan bases – let this get away from us, but I suspect it has something to do with the fact that while the state’s discipline was quite severe – Correa got hammered with 46 months in prison and nearly $300K in penalties – MLB’s punishment of the Cardinals was shockingly restrained.
Because let’s get something straight: whether or not Correa felt like he was simply uncovering similar inappropriate actions on the part of the Astros (that still seems dubious to me, and the court did not believe him), Correa accessed their database *at least* 48 times, and was uncovering information and knowledge that benefited both him, personally, and his organization.
At least, it seems, the loss of Correa was a legitimately painful one for the Cardinals. Correa wasn’t just an extremely bright up-and-comer in the Cardinals organization, he had been named Scouting Director and put in charge of the amateur draft. Check out a few of the picks from his first and only draft at the helm:
Cardinals 2015 Draft Picks
- Round 3, Pick #100: Harrison Bader
- Round 3, Pick 105: Jordan Hicks
- Round 4, Pick 131: Paul DeJong
Harrison Bader debuted for the Cardinals last season and was worth 3.5 WAR as a big league outfielder this year. Jordan Hicks is one of the hardest throwing relievers in the game and posted a 3.59 ERA as a 22-year-old rookie this season (0.5 WAR). And Paul DeJong, 25, has emerged as the Cardinals’ starting shortstop, posting a 3.0 WAR season last year and a 3.3 WAR season this year.
Getting 7.3 WAR in one season (10.3 WAR overall) out of three picks at 100 or higher just three years after they were taken is pretty much as good as it gets. You can say he used Astros info to make these picks, but we don’t know that for sure, and even still, these aren’t top guys. There had to be some gut to it. Put differently, he was probably tremendously talented *and* a cheater. They’re not mutually exclusive.
All of which is to say …while I’m not personally happy he’s in prison, it does seem good and fair that he’s no longer with the Cardinals. Read more about and from Correa at Sports Illustrated. It’s a very interesting piece with some new entries into a story we’ve let slip away.