If I don’t write about it, I can pretend it’s not happening … right?
A girl can dream.
This week, though, has been more like a nightmare for the St. Louis Cardinals and their oft-mocked fan base. Only this time, the jabs are warranted. Maybe. But, then again, maybe not so warranted as we first thought.
Initially, I just wanted to wait it out. Let the investigators do their jobs, allow the truth to prevail, and respond accordingly. You know, with facts. The report caught the baseball world — and a whole lot of local TV stations — off guard, and I wanted to hear what those really in the know had to say.
What kind of dream world was I living in? That’s not how things work around here. People want to know. Writers want to report. Surely, somebody’s voice needs to be heard. It seems, though, that the more voices that are heard, the more questions are created.
And I’m not talking about questions like “Why the Astros, of all teams?!” or “Is this how the Cardinals have won all those pennants?!” I mean real questions like, “What happens next?” and “Which source should I actually believe?”
On Tuesday, when the story broke, the primary sources in Michael Schmidt’s New York Times story were “law enforcement officials” and “investigators.” These people, one would assume, would be well enough informed regarding the case details to speak to them with accuracy. Schmidt’s report credits these officials with the theories regarding “vengeful front-office employees,” potential stolen “proprietary baseball information,” and those pesky “master passwords” that allowed simplistic hacks to provide access into the Astros’ database system — one that mirrored the Cardinals’ own version, with which Jeff Luhnow was uniquely familiar.
As news outlets scurried to the story like mosquitos to a bright light, these nameless “federal sources” and “F.B.I agents” seemed to confirm these theories, adding details such as the apparent location of the computer used to breech Houston’s system (Jupiter, FL).
Then the individuals involved began to speak.
The Cardinals’ John Mozeliak and Bill DeWitt, along with their legal counsel Mike Whittle spoke to USA Today’s Bob Nightingale, and attempted to fill in the few details they were at liberty to discuss: They’re taking this seriously, they understand the negative reflection on the organization, they’re fully cooperating with investigators, neither Mozeliak nor DeWitt have been directly implicated by F.B.I officials, but specific — and yet unidentified — individuals are under scrutiny and will be held accountable.
(Pretty “vanilla” statements, if you ask me, but I digress…)
To top that, Jeff Luhnow broke his silence in an interview with Ben Reiter for Sports Illustrated. This is where it gets juicy.
Luhnow claims, contrary to the reported theories of “law enforcement officials familiar with the case,” that there was no animosity between former colleagues, he has fully complied with the intellectual property agreements he signed, and that he would never have been foolish enough to reuse old password.
(Aside: according to Derrick Goold’s report, there was, in fact, some friction regarding Luhnow. But, to speculate that “frustration” turned into motive is perhaps an unfair reach without additional — but unavailable — information.)
So, whose intel is most accurate? Who is to be believed? Why is the version of the story from the quoted F.B.I. sources so different from that of team sources? What important facts have been left out that are keeping the story from making sense? And frankly, how much should any officials have said at all until the investigation is complete?
It’s a good headline. But without additional facts (not theories), it’s a story that deteriorates to a battle of he said/they said with no way to resolve it. It’s simply an ongoing investigation, which doesn’t make for a very good story.
Someone got to be first. Someone else got to claim the exclusive. And somehow, we’re no closer to learning what happened, who knew about it, and what will the penalty be.
Huh. Looks like we’ll have to wait for the legal process to play out, after all.