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FBI investigating Cardinals for hacking Astros' database, per report

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The investigation was opened after proprietary information from the Astros was posted to the Internet in 2014.

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Approximately a year ago, the Houston Astros' database was hacked and 10 months of trade information was leaked. An FBI investigation into the leak found that the intrusion came from an unnamed front office member of the St. Louis Cardinals, according to Michael Schmidt of the New York Times.

Major League Baseball originally believed the leak came from a "rogue hacker," but after an investigation was opened, "agents soon found that the Astros' network had been entered from a computer at a home that some Cardinals officials had lived in. The agents then turned their attention to the team's front office."

According to the report, Cardinals front office members used master passwords held by then-Cardinals executive Jeff Luhnow to hack the Astros' network. When Luhnow went from the Cardinals to the Astros in 2011, he -- and possibly other individuals who went from the Cardinals to the Astros with him -- never changed his passwords.

The Cardinals reportedly took advantage of the opportunity, using it to hack "Ground Control," an online database created by the Astros' front office. The hack, which was originally reported by Deadspin on June 30, 2014, leaked not only trade discussions, but additional sensitive player personnel information.

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 baseball's commissioner, Rob Manfred, said in a written statement to the New York Times.

None of the front office officials under investigation have been placed on leave, suspended or fired. The article added that this is the first known corporate level of espionage in the sports industry, and the investigation has reached the point where subpoenas have been issued to both the Cardinals organization and MLB.

Given the Cardinals' steady track record of dominating opponents and visiting the postseason almost every season in the last decade, the need for gaining information through hacking seems unnecessary. If anything, it sounds like a case of getting back at the Astros out of spite -- something the article also noted.

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.

Luhnow has turned around the Astros organization since taking charge of the front office in 2011. After the team finished last season with its best record in several years, Luhnow stated in January that Houston would finish with a winning record in 2015. Luhnow has helped construct one of the premier farm systems in MLB, and with a new manager at the helm in A.J. Hinch, the Astros' second-best record (37-28) in the American League is evidence of an organization that has benefited under the leadership of Luhnow.

The Cardinals (42-21) hold the best record in baseball this season. The Astros haven't finished higher than third in their division since 2006, when they finished second in the NL Central with an 82-80 record. On the flip side, the Cardinals, who have made it to the National League Championship Series in each of the last four seasons, have finished lower than second place in their division just twice since 2006, with two World Series titles in that time.