photo: Chris Correa (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)
If one thing is clear in his new, in-depth interview with Sports Illustrated – the first since he was sentenced to 46 months in Federal prison and a $280,000 fine – former St. Louis Cardinals scouting director Chris Correa appears to be proceeding as well as can be expected in picking up the pieces of his shattered life.
While incarcerated in Maryland, the 38-year old used his considerable education and training to assist his fellow inmates in a number of areas, and in June, earned a transfer to a halfway house in Washington, D.C. The next step, if all continues to go well, will be a release from custody on December 31.
While the story since he reported to prison in August 2016 is as positive as one could imagine, I am less enthused about his look back at the events which began with his multi-year excursion into several Houston Astros internal systems and led to his guilty plea to five Federal counts.
I have three thoughts to share after reading the SI piece.
Point #1: Yes, his ongoing actions were clearly illegal, and he had to know that.
How such a highly-educated, intelligent man could think his multiple years of actions, which included public posting of internal Astros email communications, was not criminal stretches the imagination.
“It was all in the context of a game, to me,” Correa, once a doctoral student, said. “When a pitcher throws at a batter’s chest, nobody runs to the local authorities and tries to file an assault charge. I’m not making excuses. I’m trying to explain where my head was at, as I now understand it. If another team does something wrong, you retaliate. That’s the lens through which I mistakenly viewed it, and I used that to give myself permission. It was wrong.”
Point #2: Correa seems tone deaf to the damage he caused to his employer.
Correa paints his actions as retaliation for perceived damages inflicted on his employer, the Cardinals. Yet it seemed obvious after his intrusions extended far beyond searches for stolen intellectual property – both in time and scope – that Correa was using Houston’s information to further his own career.
During his hacking activity, Correa was promoted three times, finishing as the leader of St. Louis’ scouting efforts and the draft – a significant executive responsibility.
Nowhere does Correa express remorse for the damage he caused to the Cardinals – both in reputation and financially. Directly because of his actions, St. Louis was fined $2 million and forced to forfeit two early selections in the 2017 draft, penalties the team will feel for years.
Point #3: The identity of Correa’s “colleagues” who he informed of his actions remain unknown.
From the very start, Cardinals president Bill DeWitt Jr. painted Correa as a lone wolf, the perpetrator of “roguish behavior”. And no evidence was even suggested to exist that anyone else was directly involved in the many breaches of Houston’s systems.
Yet, in court testimony, Correa acknowledged what most would agree is common sense behavior. When he discovered what he felt was Cardinals intellectual property on Astros’ systems, he said he told his “colleagues” about his findings.
What was said, when this occurred, to whom it was said and why it was not pursued further all remain as unanswered today as they were when the judge did not ask the obvious follow on questions to Correa’s in-court admission.
It was almost as if no one wanted to know any more. They had their man in Correa and he was pleading guilty. Wrap up the case and move on.
The author of the SI interview, Ben Reiter, captured Correa’s current take.
“…Correa no longer has the desire to relitigate who had done what. ‘What I’ve endured, I’m not going to wish on anyone,’ Correa said. ‘Nobody I know is a bad enough person’.”
Perhaps Correa was initially told to forget it by his unnamed “colleagues”, but he kept on going anyway – for multiple years. Or maybe there was more to it.
Correa said earlier that he offered to talk with MLB investigators while the Federal probe was underway but they declined to meet with him. After he was sentenced, Correa then refused to cooperate with MLB and was banned from the game for life as a result.
Correa has moved on. He made his decision to take the heat and is close to being done serving his time. At this point, one cannot blame him for not naming names. What good would it do but potentially hurt others? And Correa has put that kind of behavior in his rear view mirror.
The rest of us are still left to wonder who knew what – details we may never learn. That seems to be what all parties involved, including Correa, want.
For an in-depth timeline of the Correa hacking case, please refer to this article.
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