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Former Cardinals chief scout sentenced to nearly four years

What seemed to many like a joke two years ago has come to a climax. A federal judge on Monday sentenced ex-Cardinals official Chris Correa to nearly four years in prison for the hacking of the Houston Astros player database. The ruling puts an official stamp on what many are now calling one of the worst cases of cheating in baseball history.

In 2014, the Astros general manager Jeff Lunhow announced that the team’s database and trade records had been hacked. Federal prosecutors now estimate that the leak of the hacked information cost the Astros $1.7 million. Apparently, Correa was able to access the database and records system by using a similar password to the one left behind by a staff member that had since joined the Astros front office.

Correa was fired by the Cardinals last year. In January, he pleaded guilty to five counts of unauthorized access to the Astros database.

While MLB has stated that the Cardinals could face a loss of draft picks or a fine, currently the only punishment is being directed at Correa.

In the world of base stealing, sign stealing, gambling scandals, and PED use, database hacking might seem a fairly tame form of cheating. But data continues to mould the changing shape of baseball strategy and coaching. As anyone that has seen the movie Moneyball can tell you, sophisticated data analysis and databases can make or break a team’s run to the championship. Having access to another team’s scouting reports and player data inevitably gave the Cardinals an edge. The draft picks and player analysis developed Correa oversaw as director of scouting could give the Cardinals an edge in the coming years.

Now that the federal court has spoken, it’s up to MLB to decide how to respond to this new era of cheating in baseball.

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