BY NORMAN CHAD
On the day the New York Times reported theSt. Louis Cardinals were being investigated by the FBI for allegedly hacking computer networks to steal information about the Houston Astros, Bill Belichick declined comment and Roger Goodell announced he would hear the Cardinals’ appeal.
(Hey, I don’t make this stuff up. Uh, actually, I do.)
It scared me so much that the Cardinals could crawl around other people’s databases that I immediately changed my password, signed off from my laptop and decided to return to snail mail until further notice.
(I’m back with the U.S. Postal Service, baby!)
I mean, if the Cardinals could infiltrate the Astros’ inner sanctum — home of perhaps the most sophisticated cyber network this side of NATO’s Allied Land Command — what chance do the rest of us have?
For all I know, Tony La Russa has been tapping into all of my pizza-delivery calls since 2007.
Oh, sure, you say. La Russa isn’t even with the team anymore; he’s an executive with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
People, people, people, wake up. He’s still a Cardinal for life.
Why do you think he took the Diamondbacks’ job? Because he loves 118-degree August afternoons in Phoenix? Please.
He has infiltrated the Diamondbacks as an undercover Cardinals agent. Google La Russa and stare at his photo. That face has CYBER ESPIONAGE written all over it.
Where does this rank in the lore of baseball cheating escapades? If true, I put it second all-time, just behind the 2001 Bronx Little League World Series team that used overage player Danny Almonte. Coincidentally — well, maybe not coincidentally — Almonte is now director of player development for the Cardinals.
Naturally, the question arises: Why would baseball’s model franchise pilfer from baseball’s perennial losers? Indeed, that’s like Rembrandt stealing Earl Scheib’s coloring books. Why even bother?
Couch Slouch has a simple answer: Because it’s there and because they could.
(Heck, John Dillinger didn’t always rob Wells Fargo. Occasionally, he would stick up Central National and Bank Trust because he had an hour to kill on his way out of town to Racine.)
You’d like to think the Cardinals have been to the National League Championship Series nine times since 2000 because they have better scouting reports and because they execute the hit-and-run and because they always find a way to win in the late innings.
Turns out they had better computer spyware.
And trust Couch Slouch on this one, too: This isn’t the Cardinals’ first time at the cyber dance. I would guess they’ve been down this cyber road before; they might have a cyber web stretching from here to Poughkeepsie. The Cardinals are the standard in corporate espionage, the Cadillac of hackers.
Why do you think the Chinese government subscribes to Fox Sports Midwest? They’re not Matt Holliday fans over there; they’re fans of the Cardinals’ cyber sensibility.
(By the way, like the Cardinals, I would surmise that the new darling of MSNBC, Brian Williams, also is a serial offender. I’d wager my last 25 years of cable-TV bills that Williams, pre-Iraqi war, engaged in other fabrication and embellishment in his storytelling accounts.)
So what are we to make of the famed ‘‘Cardinal Way’’? I was contacted last week by a disgruntled former Cardinals employee — like George in ‘‘Seinfeld,’’ he quit after he was banned from the executive bathroom at team headquarters — who faxed me a copy of ‘‘The Cardinal Way’’ manifesto given to everyone in the organization. Here it is, verbatim:
1. Always move the runner over.
2. No chewing gum on team bus.
3. Mondays are Laundry Days!
4. The double-switch should never be a distant thought.
5. Protect your password, procure their password.
Ask The Slouch
Q. You do realize that it is a traveshamockery that you still use AOL for your e-mail Internet service provider? (Tom Pollins, Rockville, Maryland)
A. Couch Slouch originated at AOL. It was a terrible place to work, but because it wasn’t as bad as my brief column tenure at Sports Illustrated, I kept the e-mail address.
Q. Tom Brady got four games for deflating footballs. Pablo Sandoval got one game for using Instagram. Fair? (Kurt Hanson, Spokane, Washington)
A. In Sandoval’s defense, I can’t remember the last baseball game I sat through without clicking on a woman’s photographs on Instagram.
Q. Fans are allowed to vote up to 35 times for the Major League Baseball All-Star Game. Isn’t that insane? (Donald Hughes, Albany, New York)
A. That system’s worked effectively in Chicago city elections for years.
Q. Does FIFA look at the NCAA as a cute younger sister trying to appear mature while still in braces and pigtails? (Andrew Marino, Lincoln Park, New Jersey)
A. Pay the man, Shirley.
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