As the FBI investigates the Cardinals for accessing a proprietary Astros database, some columnists have started to ask whether St Louis had an unfair advantage over the Dodgers in the playoffs the last two years.
But what if they've got it completely wrong?
If the Cardinals did gain an unfair advantage over the Dodgers in ways that not only would be entirely separate from how they accessed the Astros' system but have also not been alleged by anyone with any knowledge of anything, then that supposed cheating actually helped the Dodgers.
That's right: the Dodgers got as lucky as Charles Luciano, and they still ended up looking as foolish as Bozo the Clown.
It has always been assumed that the team that cheats is the one that gains an advantage. But when you look at the facts, that assumption falls apart. Because not only does it take team resources to cheat, but it also takes resources to cover up the cheating.
When it takes twice the work, cheating doesn't work.
They say cheaters never prosper, yet the Cardinals are among the most successful teams this century, while the Dodgers haven't won the World Series since 1988. What if not cheating is itself a form of cheating? It really makes you think.
But that's not all. For everyone knows that cheating corrodes a person or team's soul. What happens next? That team becomes suspicious. That team thinks "Since I'm cheating, everyone else must be cheating too." So they have to look for signs that they've been as physically compromised as they are morally compromised. And since there aren't any, they can never stop, and the work goes on forever, draining even more of that team's precious resources.
It turns out the only people the Cardinals were cheating were themselves.
Turns out, that might be the case. If the Cardinals did have something on Clayton Kershaw, wouldn't they have stored it in some sort of database? And what's happened this year? Kershaw has been much worse, as if the whole league plucked his secrets out of ... a database. If the Cardinals have been hacked, might they be the true victims here?
It would be ironic if it was the charlatans who got hoodwinked.
Another factor to consider is that in both years after they beat the Dodgers, the Cardinals went on to lose in the next round. Why? Did they stop their hypothetical undefined cheating? Or maybe, did that cheating breed overconfidence? Perhaps the Cardinals assumed they had won because they were superior, and didn't need to cheat anymore, when really they relied on it. Isn't it possible that their cheating ended up costing them wins against the Red Sox and Giants?
Should the Dodgers have won their last two playoff series against the Cardinals because the Cardinals were cheating? It's only fair to ask the question. Sometimes teams don't perform when they have an advantage, and that might be what happened to the Dodgers in the 2013 NLCS and 2014 NLDS.
In the end, maybe the Cardinal Con was really just a Dodger Dog.