Defending Alex Cora

Defending Alex Cora

There is no doubt that the Red Sox have done some sort of electronic cheating. Alex Cora is being eviscerated from Boston to LA for being part of a cheating scandal for both major league teams he has coached or managed for. The Athletic story ($) has multiple sources, at least it appears so. But let’s take a breath for a second and dive deep into the story that broke the news.

Evan Drellich

The Athletic is a reputable source of information, and Ken Rosenthal is among the best reporters in the business and his name is on the byline too. But unlike Rosenthal, Drellich has changed vocational addresses quite a bit and isn’t nearly the paragon of integrity.

Drellich seems to have an ax to grind against his former markets. He worked in Houston, and couldn’t wait to report on Alex Cora throwing an emotional tantrum after the devastation of the Houston floods, much less the Astros cheating scandal (more on this in a moment) once he got to Boston.

One other sign of bias: Only the Red Sox are mentioned in the title of a story that talks a ton about the Yankees and Astros wrongdoing as well.

Reading Between The Lines

There are some questions about the details in this hit job, I mean article.

Once the article gets around to talking about the 2018 allegations, this is what it says:

Three people who were with the Red Sox during their 108-win 2018 season told The Athletic that during that regular season, at least some players visited the video replay room during games to learn the sign sequence opponents were using.

Beneath the scintillating info about the Red Sox being warned not to use the video room (unlike the Astros who are accused of using illegal cameras zoomed into the catchers signs, the Sox are accused of using what is available to all), the big news is at least some players went to the video room. How many is some?

After another sentence or two the article goes on to say,

Red Sox sources said this system did not appear to be effective or even viable during the 2018 postseason, when the Red Sox went on to win the World Series.

Are these the same Red Sox sources as above? It doesn’t explicitly say. Why not? It’s not so sensational to say “The same Red Sox sources that were with the team during their 108-win 2018 season said it wasn’t viable during the 2018 postseason.” Why is that important? Because a lot of people are saying that Alex Cora should be fired and the 2018 World Series should be vacated. Pointing out the details is extremely important when making accusations like this. And trying to brush off the detail that it could not be used during the 11-3 postseason run is a fairly important detail.

Furthermore, this isn’t even close the Astros’ use of illegal cameras. Here, let The Athletic tell you:

Replay room to dugout to baserunner to hitter is less direct — and less egregious — than banging on a garbage can, the method the Astros used at home in 2017 to alert hitters to what was coming on a pitch-to-pitch basis. The Astros’ system was triggered by a center-field camera and a video screen positioned near the dugout; no one on the playing field was involved in stealing the sign.

The Red Sox’s system was possible only when a runner was on second base, or sometimes even on first base.

Pile that info on top of the statement that the method was not used in the postseason, unlike the Astros, and this Red Sox ‘scandal’ loses more heft than Alton Brown between seasons of Good Eats.

Then you have this bit from self righteous ballplayers. You know, the ones who’ve fought so hard to make the sport clean over the years. Please. Forgive me for not seeing this as sour grapes by fringe players who didn’t get paid or get the opportunities they wanted from Cora and the Red Sox.

The accounts about the Red Sox’s activity were given to The Athletic on the condition of anonymity. The sources said they are bothered by a subculture of in-game electronic sign stealing that they believe grew in recent years among contending teams, if not more widely across the sport, and who say they want MLB to act in a broad way.

So here is a major inconsistency with the statement that ‘some players’ visited the video room:

In daily hitters’ meetings, Red Sox players and personnel would review their communication methods for that day.

So is it only some players involved, or is it the entire team? Daily meetings? Ok.

But here is the coup de grace:

During the 2018 season, suspicion of wrongdoing became rampant across baseball, particularly among contending teams.

Is it right to go with the ‘everyone’s doing it’ defense? Not so much. But this is not nearly as serious as what the Astros are accused of, and are soon to be punished for. And if you’re so right about the Red Sox, what about the other teams? Not interested in digging in there are they?

Alex Cora

What’s clear is that Alex Cora is not beloved by all his players. The guess here is that certain bullpen pieces that were passed over for The Rover (starters getting relief appearances during the 2018 playoffs) are the rats, uh, I mean sources for this story. That’s just an educated guess.

Because of Cora’s involvement with the 2017 Astros and the 2018 Red Sox there is little doubt he will be punished. But he was not the manager of the Astros in 2017, so he did not have ultimate authority. That is where he learned a cheating culture. The 2018 Red Sox did not install illegal cameras or bang garbage cans or give instant information to batters. They (unclear how many) used the video room and signals. It wasn’t great what the Red Sox apparently did under Cora, but by no means should he be fired.

Calm down haters.

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Boston Red Sox