MLB essentially gave Alex Cora a slap on the wrist when they suspended him for the 2020 season. Cora was one of the most integral figures in a sign-stealing scandal that compromised the Houston Astros’ 2017 World Series championship, so a lifetime suspension would have been more than justified. Instead, he’ll simply be forced to sit out next season. The Boston Red Sox also fired him.
Does the question then become who will welcome Cora back into a managerial or even a coaching role? If Red Sox fans are to be believed, his return won’t be at Fenway Park.
How Alex Cora helped the Astros cheat
After an MLB investigation found that the Houston Astros had used advanced technology to steal signs in 2017, the league suspended general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch for the season.
Despite multiple admissions that neither Luhnow or Hinch had any involvement in the scandal, they were the only members of the organization to face punishment. MLB granted all players involved immunity in exchange for their truthful testimony. The team fired both Luhnow and Hinch.
Cora was Houston’s bench coach that season before leaving to manage the Red Sox. MLB found that he was an important part of setting up the Astros’ sign-stealing system. The league then conducted an investigation into Boston and Cora after concluding the Houston investigation.
Alex Cora’s reaction to the report
Cora’s latest statement focuses on the fact that the Boston report found him guilty of no wrongdoing. Here’s what he had to say:
“I am relieved that these MLB investigations are concluded and that Commissioner Rob Manfred has released his finding that I did not violate any MLB rules as a member of the Red Sox organization in 2018 or 2019.”
It’s a rather curious turn of phrase. Rather than saying the report turned up nothing, as he expected, Cora claimed to be “relieved.” It’s impossible to speculate on whether Cora’s language here belies his claim of innocence in Boston. Either way, Cora was rightly punished for his actions in Houston.
What Boston fans think about a potential return
On the Red Sox subreddit, some Boston fans expressed interest in having Alex Cora return in 2021 when he’s up from suspension. Others were strongly against it, reasoning that no matter what Cora did or not do in a Boston uniform, testimony revealed he definitively cheated in Houston.
One reddit user summarized the anti-Cora sentiment pretty succinctly when he posted: “Can’t believe I’m seeing people begging to get Cora back. If you want that cheater, Cora, back, then you must be disappointed we didn’t cheat in the playoffs like him?”
The Red Sox were largely exonerated by the latest report, and though there’s little reason to believe Cora wouldn’t continue cheating in Boston, little evidence was found that their cheating was anywhere near as sophisticated as the Astros’ system.
Cora’s punishment is cumulative, however, as MLB made an example out of him due to his transgressions with Houston. There are a few reasons why Boston fans are likely right to not want Cora back, including:
- If the team is successful this season (provided there is a season), they’d probably want to give interim manager Ron Roenicke another opportunity to come back.
- They now have a full year to find a replacement. If a better option becomes available, they’ll sign him and not think twice about the old news that is Cora.
- Red Sox leadership doesn’t want him back. General manager Chaim Bloom said he’d heard speculation about the team bringing Cora back, but that it was “not a consideration.”
In all likelihood, the Red Sox have moved on. If so, good for them. Cora’s inexcusable role in a scandal that brought shame and scorn to the game should keep him out for a good long while.
With baseball’s networking system that gets retread managers and coaches hired and re-hired, Cora will probably be welcomed back. It’s not likely he’ll manage any time soon, however. If he’s looking for someone to blame for that, Cora should find himself a mirror.