uesday, June 16, 2015, 10:36 p.m.
You couldn't build a better Pittsburgh sports fan than Kevin Colbert. In fact, given our conversations over the years, I couldn't tell you if the Steelers are even his favorite team. And he's their general manager.
Colbert is certifiably crazy about the Penguins. He's only slightly less loony when it comes to the Pirates.
So if Colbert thinks that somehow the Pirates were done dirty by those hacking St. Louis Cardinals, then I'll buy that somehow baseball's best franchise should trade its red caps for black hats.
“I don't know much about it,” Colbert said Tuesday after Day 1 of the Steelers' mini-camp on the South Side.
But nobody should be surprised that officials from a professional team would try hacking into a competitor's database as the Cardinals are alleged to have done to the Houston Astros.
Information is not safe in a society where advantages are sought at any cost. And sports always end up reflecting society.
The FBI and Justice Department thought enough of the allegations against the Cardinals to launch an investigation, which is ongoing. We should pay it proper attention, too.
“When sports teams start hacking other sports teams for private information, we've lost all sense of morality,” said Albert Whale, President and Chief Security Officer for IT Security, Inc.
“We're in the wild, wild West.”
As Americans, we're on the moon if we believe the Cardinals' hacking scandal is important because it tarnishes a flagship franchise from our National Pastime. As Pittsburghers, we're on Mars if we make this about the Pirates perhaps being jobbed out of first-place finishes the past two seasons.
Last year, the year before, and even now, the Cardinals have proven to be a deeper, better, more consistent ballclub than the Pirates. When the Pirates change all of that, they will also change the pecking order in the National League Central division.
The Cardinals did not hack their way to the top. This is not a debate worth having.
Neither is the debate about cheaters ruining sports, because the FBI and Justice Department couldn't care less about the Cardinals, New England Patriots, or whatever team next breaks the rules to find a competitive advantage.
Cheating is to our sports what Coke and popcorn is to our movie-going experience.
But hacking isn't cheating. It's an invasion. And hopefully we take hacking more seriously now that it has invaded our sports world because we shamefully diminished it after hackers nearly wrecked a major company that makes money off movies.
The Sony hacks should have scared us. The fallout was a powerful entity bowing to cyber-terrorists. Whatever critics thought of “The Interview,” Sony — by pulling it from theatres — granted the hacking community a big, irreversible win.
Most of us laughed.
Hackers had produced embarrassing information about celebrities — the sweetest of treats for our sugar-addicted society. We were entertained when we should have been fearful (and furious) that a major company's private information proved so easily compromised.
Hackers brought hard times to Sony.
Sabotaging a professional sports team is small time, but maybe it is the wake-up call we need.
“I don't think any sector is immune,” said Joseph DeMarco, a partner at New York City law firm DeVore & DeMarco, where he specializes on cyber-related issues.
“Every industry has a layer of valuable data. Sports has statistics. Manufactures have processes. If it can be digitized and scanned, it can be stolen.”
Hacking has hit our sports world. This is a signal that we need to know much more about it.
Sports, instead of distracting us from problems of the society it reflects, should prompt us to take a closer look.