This New York Times story about the cadre of vengeful St. Louis Cardinals nerdbots hacking into the computers of the Houston Astros is without question today’s best thing ever.
And why, you say? Isn’t this an affront to the dignity of the sport, and to sports in general?
Well, yes, if you still bought that dignity crap. Smart folks know better. Smart folks know that at this level of competition, anyone who wants something badly enough will do anything to anything. And yes, wherever your dirty little mind is taking you here, you just follow happily.
It’s all on the table now, kids. Deflating footballs just got its butt kicked. Recruiting scandals, bribery, tax evasion, academic fraud, leagues lying about their safety records to avoid liability -- it’s all part of the new sporting paradigm. If you’re not facing a sentence in a minimum-security federal lockup, you are not material for that sports management masters you are trying to achieve.
In other words, John Oliver’s hilarious sendups of FIFA master criminal Jack Warner just got dated. No less funny, mind you, as Oliver is genius and Warner is a doddering old graft magnet, but dated nonetheless.
[RELATED: John Oliver replies to Jack Warner's video]
As for the Cardinals, they have modeled themselves as the zenith of propriety, dignity and respect for the rules and authorities who defend them, so to be caught in such a cheap, tawdry and hilarious stunt is ... well, it’s perfect.
Like most corporate entities, the ones doing the firing are very often up to their eyelids in the original crime. Nobody has uncovered evidence that either owner Bill DeWitt or general manager John Mozeliak are involved, but bet nothing on anyone. This could go all the way back to Augie Busch.
And frankly, let’s hope so. Because for all the hand-wringing and moralizing that has gone on in just the few hours since The Times broke the story (which was originally broken by Deadspin), vengeful/petty white-collar mid-level-nerdbot corporate crime in sports is the new market inefficiency. It is also the new orange, the new black, and the new green.
And if that’s the rule (and it is), we must embrace it, especially in the era of fantasy sports with fans imagining they are general managers rather than players. There are marketing opportunities galore here, and let’s be honest, marketing opportunities mean money opportunities, and money opportunities mean, well, money.
In sum, the Cardinals are guilty because, why the hell not? People don’t get fired over nothing.
Next, the Cardinals are not alone. The guys who get caught are never rogues on their own program, but the part of the iceberg that you can see (Patriot Rule No. 4).
After that, Rob Manfred gets to know the joy of having a fight with DeWitt, one of his major backers in the same way that Bob Kraft was one of Roger Goodell’s. The ouroboros of the rich is the best new sport we have going, and it has the added advantage of being the one that doesn’t rely on the myths and falsehoods we so blithely invest in to make this whole billion-dollar fraud palatable.
If they can only find a way to sell $45-a-pop T-shirts with Jeff Luhnow’s face on them...