Court sentences Chris Correa to 46 months in Astros hacking case


Crime and Punishment of a different sort

Yesterday, Judge Lynn Hughes sentenced Christopher Correa to 46 months in Club Fed. At first blush, the sentence seems harsh to me. Four years in federal prison for seeing how another club evaluates 19 year-old shortstops in the low minors? C’mon. It’s not as if Correa committed a violent crime or forced the Astros into bankruptcy. In March 2016, Forbes valued the Astros at $1.1 billion and estimated the team received an annual revenue of $270 million.

So why almost four years? Was it the perceived value of the trade secret information? The Astros valued the information at over $1 million. I don’t know much about the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, but I assume the value of the information stolen/accessed drives the sentence.

Also, Correa apparently accessed the information more frequently than originally reported. He apparently claimed he accessed the information a handful of times. The reports yesterday suggest Correa accessed the information more like sixty times. The discrepancy couldn’t have helped Correa.

I’d love to read the pre-sentence report. Unfortunately, the Court sealed it (as is routine).

Some unanswered questions:

  1. Did anyone else within the Cards’ organization know Correa infiltrated Ground Control?
  2. How did Correa use the information? Did the Cards benefit in a direct way? Did the team target a particular player based on the information? Did the Cards try to drive up the price on a player knowing the Astros wanted him?
  3. What does the league want to discover in its investigation? Will it punish the Cards?

I think this sentence is a huge wake-up call. I don’t anticipate many baseball men will risk real jail time to gain a marginal (at best) competitive edge in player evaluation. The sentence is a stronger deterrent than any penalty imposed by MLB.


Griffey and the best catch I’ve seen

A brief Ken Griffey, Jr. story to reflect on his impending induction and the greatest catch I’ve ever seen in person.

I attended this game at the Kingdome with a friend. I was home from my freshman year at Rice.  I sat in the upper deck in between third base and home. Kevin Bass cracked a shot to the right-center gap. As I saw the ball come off the bat, I thought Bass had hit it out. Then I thought it would be a double. Meanwhile, Griffey sprints towards the fence. I think there’s no way he’s going to catch it. And then SMASH! Griffey, Jr. slams into the fence:

Somehow–despite breaking his wrist–he caught the ball. Amazing.

That particular game had quite a collection collection of talent. Look at the scorecard: Edgar, Randy Johnson, Cal Ripken, Palmeiro, and Moyer all appear. But Griffey was the best player on the field that day, without question. He clubbed a bomb and another hit earlier in the game. He made the best catch I’ve ever seen.

Thanks Ken.

Update: TDI holds hearing on request for mandatory mediation-arbitration endorsement

Yesterday, TDI held a hearing on Farm Bureau’s request to offer optional mandatory mediation-arbitration endorsements in certain homeowner’s policies. You can read about it here. I discussed some of the issues here.

Here’s Farm Bureau’s explanation on why it wants to write the endorsement:

Stephens said many unique factors prompted the Farm Bureau — which only serves Texas and is not publicly traded — to ask permission to “try something different” to help its bottom line.

That included a dramatic rise in lawsuits in South Texas and along the Gulf beginning in 2012. The rate of disputed claims in those regions, he said, outpaced the rest of the state by nearly 30-fold.

That last sentence tells the tale. Farm Bureau has been pounded with lawsuits in the Valley in the last few years. It wants to stem the tide.

Apparently, insurance commissioner David Mattax didn’t tip his hand on whether TDI would allow Farm Bureau to write the endorsement. Stay tuned.

Happy Independence Day!

My favorite things to do on the Fourth of July:

  • Read the Declaration of Independence for some historical perspective.
  • Eat something grilled, preferably hot dogs or hamburgers. Nothing fancy. I’ll test the Serious Eats method of grilling hot dogs another day.
  • Make/eat homemade ice cream. I remember cranking my parents’ ice cream maker by hand as a kid. We typically used it only once a year–July 4.
  • Fireworks. Growing up, we’d have to hit the Muckleshoot reservation for bottle rockets and firecrackers. It’s a little easier to buy the good stuff in Texas.
  • Baseball. I don’t recall attending any games on July 4. One on TV or the radio works for me.
  • Listening to Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever at least once.

How do you like to celebrate July 4?

Post oaks at sunset


IMG_1862 edited for contrast.JPG

I tried to catch a blue heron at the pond but I couldn’t get outside in time. like the contrast between the orange sky and the dark, dense tree branches.


Friday Song, Independence Day Edition

The NPR Music folks created a wonderful July Fourth playlist. The list contains songs from the usual suspects: Sousa, Gershwin, Copland, Joplin, Guthrie, Bernstein, etc. Unfortunately, the editors omitted one important tune celebrating the greatness of the United States:

Have a great Independence Day!