Yes, it really is a crime to hack into a Major League Baseball team’s computer


I wasn’t going to write about this because I figured someone at ESPN would remove it by now. But nope, it’s still there! It’s ESPN Legal Analyst Lester Munson’s take on the Cardinals hacking thing. And it’s literally legal malpractice:

Q: Is it actually a crime to hack into the data and the files of a Major League Baseball team?

A: It’s certainly ethically questionable, but whether it is a crime is far less certain . . .

No, it really is a crime, as we discussed yesterday. There could be a question as to whether prosecutors will bother with it, as prosecutors always have the discretion to ignore something, but that’s not the question Munson was asked. Seriously and without hyperbole: if a client asked you if hacking into the files of a business were a crime, and you, as a lawyer, said “well, that depends . . .” you have committed malpractice. Because it is a crime. It says so in 18 U.S.C. section 1030. In layman’s terms, to prove a violation of the law you have to show:

  • The defendant intentionally accessed a computer without authorization, or that they exceeded authorized access;
  • That the access of the computer involved an interstate or foreign communication; and
  • By engaging in this conduct, the defendant obtained information from a computer used in interstate or foreign commerce or communication

That’s it. Based on what we know now, there was that much which happened.

It’s possible Munson was thinking of another possible law with a higher standard than the quite malleable CFAA — the Economic Espionage Act comes to mind — but he doesn’t explain that anywhere here, nor was he asked about that specifically. Generically speaking, it is illegal to hack into a businesses computer, assuming the term “hack” means “enter without authorization,” as it almost always does.

Maybe someone isn’t charged over this. Maybe, if charged they aren’t indicted. Maybe if indicted they beat the rap. You have to prove such things, obviously. The facts matter. But it is absolutely, positively a crime to hack into the data and the files of a Major League Baseball team or any other business.

Then there’s this:

In addition to showing that the stolen information was not otherwise available, the prosecutor must be able to show that Cardinals executives knew they were committing a crime. If the Cardinals’ activity was just a dirty trick or an attempt at getting even with a former colleague, the hacking might not qualify as a crime.

It doesn’t take a legal analyst to know that ignorance of the law is not a defense. There is not a “dirty trick” exemption here. That woman I mentioned yesterday? Who was one of the most famous defendants of a Computer Fraud and Abuse Act prosecution after she bullied someone with a fake Myspace account? She was admittedly trying to pull a dirty trick. She was still arrested, indicted and convicted under the CFAA. Her conviction was set aside because the judge later ruled that merely making up a false username was not “intentionally accessing a computer without authorization,” but there is no such fine distinction here, based on what we know.

I’m not sure why the largest sports outlet on the planet provides misinformation like this. I’m not sure why, based on his track record, they continue to use Lester Munson as their go-to legal expert. But this is simply wrong, and it’s no different than if they got the reported facts of a sports story wrong. In that case they’d take the story down or alter it. This one has been up for hours, unchanged.

Anthony Volpe, 21, wins Yankees’ starting shortstop job

Dave Nelson-USA TODAY Sp

TAMPA, Fla. — Anthony Volpe grew up watching Derek Jeter star at shortstop for the New York Yankees.

Now, the 21-year-old is getting the chance to be the Yankees’ opening day shortstop against the San Francisco Giants.

The team announced after a 6-2 win over Toronto in spring training that Volpe had won the spot. New York manager Aaron Boone called the kid into his office to deliver the news.

“My heart was beating pretty hard,” said Volpe, rated one of baseball’s best prospects. “Incredible. I’m just so excited. It’s hard for me to even put into words.”

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, hitting coach Dillon Lawson and bench coach Carlos Mendoza were also present.

Volpe was able to share the news with his parents and other family members near the Yankees’ dugout and said it is something he will never forget.

“It was pretty emotional,” Volpe said. “It was just an unbelievable moment to share with them.”

Volpe, who grew up a Yankees fan, lived in Manhattan as a child before moving to New Jersey. Jeter was his favorite player.

“It’s very surreal,” Volpe said. “I’ve only ever been to games at Yankee Stadium and for the most part only watched him play there.”

Volpe is hitting .314 with three homers, five RBIs and a .417 on-base percentage in 17 Grapefruit League games. He has just 22 games of experience at Triple-A.

Spring training started with Volpe, Oswald Peraza and holdover Isiah Kiner-Falefa competing for the everyday shortstop job. Kiner-Falefa was shifted into a utility role midway through camp, and Peraza was optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Sunday evening.

“While certainly the performance was there, he killed it between the lines,” Boone said of Volpe. “All the other things that we’ve been hearing about showed up. There’s an energy he plays the game with, and an instinct that he has that is evident. He really checked every box that we could have had for him. Absolutely kicked the door in and earned his opportunity.”

Volpe arrived in Florida in December to work out at the Yankees’ minor league complex.

“He’s earned the right to take that spot, and we’re excited for him and excited for us,” Cashman said. “He just dominated all sides of the ball during February and March, and that bodes well obviously for him as we move forward.”

Volpe was selected out of high school with the 30th overall pick in the 2019 draft from Delbarton School in New Jersey. He passed up a college commitment to Vanderbilt to sign with the Yankees.

“It was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to get into the organization,” Volpe said. “This day, this feeling, this moment was kind of what I’ve worked my whole life for when I made that big decision.”

“Right now it’s crazy,” he added. “I don’t even know what lies ahead but Thursday I just want to go out and play, and have fun.”