MLB

Will Alex Cora Get a Lifetime Ban from MLB for Cheating?

A lot of the MLB offseason has focused on the sign-stealing scandal. The controversy started with the 2017 Astros, who won their first World Series that season. More recently, the 2018 Red Sox — that season’s champs — became embroiled in the scandal when the MLB began investigating them, too.

There is one significant connection between the squads — Alex Cora, who became the Red Sox manager in 2018 after being the Astros’ bench coach in 2017. The MLB’s investigation into Houston implicated Cora as a mastermind in the team’s sign-stealing setup, while the case with Boston continues. With Cora involved in both, could he face a lifetime ban?

Alex Cora’s involvement in the Astros’ scandal

Commissioner Rob Manfred issued a nine-page report detailing the results of the MLB’s investigation into the Astros. In the lengthy statement, Manfred specifically called Cora out for being “involved in developing both the [trash can] banging scheme and utilizing the replay review room to decode and transmit signs.”

Manfred wrote that Cora’s active participation in both schemes “implicitly condoned the players’ conduct.” The commissioner is withholding Cora’s punishment until after MLB’s investigation into Boston’s electronic sign-stealing scandal, since he was the team’s manager that season. The Red Sox have already fired Cora, who awaits his penalty from the MLB.

Could Cora get a lifetime ban?

Most analysts believe Manfred will come down hard on Cora. The commissioner suspended former Astros manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow for a season each. (Both were subsequently dismissed from the team.) And Cora’s suspension is expected to be even harsher.

Because of Cora’s repeat offenses on both teams, many people believe a lifetime ban is on the table. ESPN baseball reporter Jeff Passan tweeted, “Discipline for Red Sox manager Alex Cora is coming. It is going to be harsh, per sources.”

CBS Sports asked its baseball writers how they think Cora should be punished. The consensus among them was Cora should get a harsher penalty than Hinch.

Some said a two-year suspension would suffice — one year for each team — while some are calling for a lifetime ban. R.J. Anderson wrote that the league “cannot afford to have people questioning the integrity of games … banning Cora would send that message.”

Dayn Perry notes, “Cora was a central party to two cheating scandals,” if the league determines he had a major role in Boston’s scheme. If that’s the case “he should be hammered. A lifetime ban should be in the range of possibilities,” though Perry would give Cora five years. That, in itself, could be an essential lifetime ban.

Would a lifetime ban for Cora be fair?

Would it be fair for Manfred to issue Cora a lifetime ban? Yes, we think so. He was a coach or manager on two teams accused of cheating, and both won the World Series.

In the Red Sox case, the alleged cheating happened after Manfred warned teams not to use technology to steal signs. This was in the wake of the Red Sox receiving a fine for using Apple Watches for just that.

Cora’s actions have called the integrity of MLB’s games into question, as Anderson noted. If the investigation determines Cora was also heavily involved with Boston’s cheating, a lifetime suspension would not only be fair but also potentially the only punishment that fits his crime.

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