Sports Scandals, Major and Minor

A bombshell in the world of professional baseball: the St. Louis Cardinals, probably baseball’s most respected organization, are under investigation for hacking into the Houston Astros’ computer network to steal information:

Investigators have uncovered evidence that Cardinals officials broke into a network of the Houston Astros that housed special databases the team had built, according to law enforcement officials. Internal discussions about trades, proprietary statistics and scouting reports were compromised, the officials said. …

The investigation is being led by the F.B.I.’s Houston field office and has progressed to the point that subpoenas have been served on the Cardinals and Major League Baseball for electronic correspondence.

It sounds like the infiltration may have stemmed from personal animus:

Law enforcement officials believe the hacking was executed by vengeful front-office employees for the Cardinals hoping to wreak havoc on the work of Jeff Luhnow, the Astros’ general manager who had been a successful and polarizing executive with the Cardinals until 2011.

If these allegations turn out to be true–and right now, it doesn’t look good for the Cardinals–the scandal will dwarf any comparable precedent. The Patriots’ “spygate” was trivial, and “deflategate,” as I have written here and here, is at best an exceptionally weak case.

The Twins are in St. Louis at the moment, so maybe we will hear more about this before the day is over.

In the minor scandal category, we have the University of North Dakota’s effort to select a new nickname for its sports teams. I class this as a scandal because I think it is scandalous that the NCAA is forcing UND to give up the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo, one of the best in college sports:


From a long list of early submissions, the potential new names have been pared down to seven:

* Roughriders
* Sundogs
* North Stars
* Nodaks
* Fighting Hawks
* Green Hawks
* North Dakota

This is, bluntly, a lame group. The North Dakota North Dakotas? Is that a joke? Or the North Dakota Nodaks? Hawks have been done to death, and who knows what a sundog is? And if you do know, how is it a good name for a sports team? The North Stars were once a hockey team, at least, so it’s got that going for it. Roughriders seems likely to win by default. My advice is to call North Dakota teams the Seminoles, since that name has already been approved by the NCAA.