The perfect hire, the chosen one, and champion. All these names were given to the young Red Sox head coach after their magical 2018 World Series run. And despite a disappointing 2019, Alex Cora was still the darling child in a market that loves to beat their local managers to the ground and spit in the faces of the weak. However in 48 short hours, everything turned sour on the Puerto Rican head coach with the release of MLB’s cheating scandal report.
Early this Monday, Rob Manfred released a nine page report that detailed the actions of cheating by specifically the Houston Astros, but also the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees during the 2017 and 2018 seasons. The main finding was sign stealing by the Astros that involved setting up secret cameras to steal opponents pitching signals. The MLB came down hard on Astros GM Jeff Luhnow and head coach A.J Hinch with 1 year suspensions each. Both were fired shortly after by the Astros. However despite all the attention being on these two, the Manfred report especially focused on Alex Cora. Cora was the bench Coach at the time. Here’s a paragraph from the Manfred Report that clearly outlines the evidence against the Astros.
“At the beginning of the 2017 season, employees in the Astros’ video replay review room began using the live game feed from the center field camera to attempt to decode and transmit opposing teams’ sign sequences (i.e., which sign flashed by the catcher is the actual sign) for use when an Astros runner was on second base. Once the sign sequence was decoded, a player in the video replay review room would act as a “runner” to relay the information to the dugout, and a person in the dugout would notify the players in the dugout or signal the sign sequence to the runner on second base, who in turn would decipher the catcher’s sign and signal to the batter from second base.
After reading evidence like that, their is no denying cheating by the Houston Astros. Immediately after that, the report begins to make Alex Cora the mastermind behind it all despite being just a bench coach at the time. It describes the process in which Cora was in charge and the players bought into. Another form of cheating was brought up and this was even more exotic.
“Players occasionally also used a massage gun to bang the trash can. Generally, one or two bangs corresponded to certain off-speed pitches, while no bang corresponded to a fastball. Witnesses consistently describe this new scheme as player-driven, and with the exception of Cora, non-player staff, including individuals in the video replay review room, had no involvement in the banging scheme.”
Now this is wild to me. How no one caught them in the act is astonishing but what’s more astonishing is the continued emphasis on Bench Coach Alex Cora. During the trash can ritual, he was the only non-player involved and I suspect that he most likely the mastermind behind this as well.
The Report talks about the Redsox and Yankees briefly,
“In August 2017, the Boston Red Sox were caught transmitting sign information from their replay review room to individuals in the dugout wearing smart watches. The incident received significant media attention, and I issued a press release on September 15, 2017 announcing the fine of the Red Sox (and a fine of the New York Yankees for improperly using the replay review room phone)”
The Commissioner of baseball used nearly two thirds of the report on disciplinary actions. From what I can tell in the tone of his writing, he talked to most if not all of the players and coaches involved during investigations. He deeply values remorse and ownership in which I believe soften the blows for manager A.J Hinch and GM Jeff Luhnow. Here’s a list of specific personalities that the report implied at for disciplinary action.
Alex Cora- Houston Bench Coach (2017) TBD
AJ Hinched- Houston Head Coach (2017) 1 year suspension
Jeff Luhnow- Houston GM (2017) 1 year suspension
Brandon Taubman- Houston Assistant GM (2017) 2 year Suspension
Carlos Beltran- Houston Player (2017) TBD
Astros Team- 5 million dollar fine, Loss of two 2020 draft picks (1st and 2nd)
With Alex Cora being virtually fired this week, it’s hard to envision him ever coaching again. The suspension he will get will be hefty, possibly historically hefty. Remember now that Pete Rose was banned for life for gambling on his team to win. By looking at the evidence in this report, I wouldn’t be surprised if a lifetime ban was implemented on Cora or something to that caliber. Carlos Beltran is another piece here to keep an eye on. His recent parting ways with the Mets already implies there is more to come from the league.
The arguably biggest cheating scandal in baseball’s history is amidst us and it’s a lot to soak in. Stayed tuned for more updates and analysis!
Below is a link to the full Manfred Report.
Photo Credit: Forbes.com
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