In every Professional Sport every club is trying their best to gain an advantage over their opponents. Undoubtedly you've heard about New England Patriot's Tom Brady's 'more likely than not' knowing equipment personnel intentionally released air from the game footballs to comply with Brady's alleged preference. The New York Times have reported that the St. Louis Cardinals are being investigated by the FBI and the DOJ for allegedly hacking into the Houston Astros internal network.
Illegal intrusions into American companies internal networks are not a new phenomena. Quite frankly, if any company that uses the Internet and does not have an IT/IS consultant or department they are only a few keystrokes away from disaster. For the most part hackers are in foreign countries or foreign countries wanting to obtain trade secrets, military secrets or any type of intellectual property to gain an advantage.
If the Cardinals are found to be guilty, it would represent the first known "case of corporate espionage in which a professional sports team hacked the network of another team." The MLB “has been aware of and has fully cooperated with the federal investigation into the illegal breach of the Astros’ baseball operations database,” a spokesman for Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a written statement. It is telling that the MLB's statement omits the word 'alleged' leading one to believe there is concrete evidence that the breach occurred.
Why the Cardinals would benefit?
Astros GM Jeff Lunhow clearly knows what he's doing, and despite having one of the most successful franchises since the turn of the century, the Cardinals (apparently) wanted to know more, and were allegedly willing to do unethical things to accomplish that goal.
By gaining access to Houston Ground Control, St. Louis was able to glean priceless information on the Astros, and teams they'd negotiated with. The Cardinals front office now knew what certain players were worth in trade talks, and what other teams were thinking in the lead up to the trade deadlines.
After being equipped with their negotiating tactics, how much they were willing to pay for players, they have intelligence that gives quite an advantage when dealing with other teams in the league. Now we will have to wait to see if the employees that performed the hack did so under the instruction of an executive or if these employees were seeking to get a competitive edge not only for their team, but for their own careers.