Alex Cora led what many consider to be the greatest Red Sox team ever, the 2018 World Champions. He was chosen, in part, because of his affiliation with the 2017 Champion Houston Astros. Now that Astros team is in the cross-hairs of the Commissioner for a blatant cheating scandal, and Alex Cora was reportedly a big part of it. Should we change how we view him?
Old friend Evan Drellich and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic have all the particulars. The short and sweet version is there was a camera (perhaps still is?) in center field at Minute Maid Park that would look at the signs from the opposing catcher behind the plate. The feed was sent to a TV on the dugout steps leading down to the clubhouse and then transferred to the batter. A loud bang on a trashcan relayed the signal to the batter.
All of this happened in real time, and was rather ruthlessly efficient. Here are the numbers from the 2017 Postseason:
Red Sox fans may remember getting blown out by the Astros in the 2017 ALDS 8-2 in both of the opening games in Houston. On the one hand you have to hand it to the athletes to disseminate a bang or some other signal and react in mere seconds. On the other, when a MLB batter knows what's coming it's practically a futile enterprise for the pitcher.
E Tu Alex Cora?
Cora's fingerprints are all over this operation. Messers Drellich & Rosenthal also report that sources say Alex Cora, along with Carlos Beltran, came up with and administered the scheme. Cora and Astros Manager AJ Hinch have declined to comment. One who has fought back is recently hired Mets Manager Carlos Beltran:
“We took a lot of pride studying pitchers in the computer – that is the only technology that I use and I understand,” Beltrán said. “It was fun seeing guys get to the ballpark to look for little details.... I don’t call that cheating. I call that using the small details to take advantage. I think baseball is doing a great job adding new technology to make sure the game is even for both teams.”Carlos Beltran in a text to The Athletic
It would be one thing if this was being reported by only Evan Drellich. He was a beat writer for the Astros, then the Red Sox, but for whatever reason was not renewed by multiple media outlets and has now landed at The Athletic. But Ken Rosenthal is a well respected long time national writer who is not known for click bait. These are not idle 'sources say' reports.
Alex Cora's Red Sox doing cartwheels to change signs during the 2018 ALCS against the Astros takes on a whole new meaning.
MLB is investigating. The 2017 Red Sox were fined for their use of Apple Watches. But that was sniffed out and dealt with during the season. The Astros are accused of (and audio of trash cans being hit can be found) using the sign stealing system during the playoffs. There is sufficient buzz about a large fine or draft pick penalties coming that this may be more than a slap on the wrist.
After the Red Sox lost the 2017 ALDS, John Farrell was fired and has yet to find work in baseball, although he is up for the bench coach of the Cubs. Joe Girardi was fired after losing to the Astros with the Yankees in the ALCS that year. Girardi just found work as the Phillies manager.
These are not idle nothings. People's careers were directly affected, and there was franchise leadership upheaval of multiple clubs.
If in fact Alex Cora was a big part of this cheating scandal, it certainly puts a permanent stain on his reputation. There are plenty of things to love about Alex Cora as a person, a leader, a teammate, a brother, and a son. But no one's perfect. Turns out Cora's spring training plans aren't the only thing to be disappointed in.
Featured Image via MassLive