Red Sox Rumors: Threat of vacated 2018 title doomed Alex Cora
By Sean Penney
The Boston Red Sox reportedly planned to keep Alex Cora as manager until the possibility of being stripped of their 2018 World Series title arose.
Alex Cora was held in high regard by ownership and beloved by his players. The decision for the Boston Red Sox to cut bait with their manager was a difficult one but there’s one factor that may have made it inevitable.
According to NBC Sports Boston’s Gary Tanguay, the Red Sox had every intention of keeping Cora as their manager until the possibility of their 2018 World Series title being vacated was brought to their attention.
"“John Henry had every intention to keep Alex Cora as the Red Sox manager, despite Cora’s impending suspension from Major League Baseball,” Tanguay reported Thursday on Early Edition. “When the possibility arose that the Red Sox could be stripped of their 2018 World Series title, the owner threw him out of the boat. The owner gave up his manager. He was the sacrificial lamb. The Red Sox and the Astros are nervous they could lose their championships. Lot of anxiety at Fenway Park, I was told.”"
The nightmare scenario of MLB stripping the franchise of the championship they won under Cora’s leadership would be a justifiable reason for firing the manager but this report contradicts everything the team mentioned in their official statement and in this week’s press conference.
The Red Sox have repeatedly insisted that they “mutually agreed” with Cora that he step down from his position as manager in the wake of the punishment levied against the Houston Astros for their sign-stealing scandal. Ownership stonewalled every question pertaining to MLB’s ongoing investigation into their own alleged scheme and led us to believe the decision to part ways with Cora was based on his involvement with stealing signs for Houston in 2017.
Why would the Red Sox organization be punished for something Cora did while serving as the bench coach for the Astros? Obviously, they wouldn’t, which leads us to believe that ownership wasn’t being entirely truthful when they claimed their decision was unrelated to the allegations against their team in 2018, Cora’s first season as manager of the Red Sox.
Tanguay’s report paints Henry as a frantic owner overwhelmed with anxiety who panicked under pressure. He threw Cora under the bus to save himself form MLB’s most punitive penalty.
Again, this goes against what Henry has revealed publicly. The Red Sox have been very supportive of Cora and pleaded with fans to reserve judgement until after MLB releases the findings of their investigation.
The concept of MLB vacating their championship is far-fetched to begin with. The Astros have already been hammered with a massive penalty that included one-year suspensions for their manager and general manager (both of whom were fired in the aftermath), a $5 million fine and the loss of multiple first- and second-round draft picks. There was no mention anywhere in MLB’s report that Houston’s 2017 title could be vacated as part of this punishment.
If the Astros get to keep their banner, there’s no chance of the Red Sox being asked to take theirs down. Houston’s sign-stealing debacle has turned into a circus that keeps getting wilder by the day. MLB already determined they are guilty of illegally positioning a monitor near the dugout with a live feed from the center field camera to decode signs, which they relayed to batters by banging on a trashcan.
Since then, reports have surfaced that the Astros used electronic devices under their jerseys that buzzed to signal which type of pitch was coming. These allegations were revealed on Twitter by a source claiming to be Carlos Beltran‘s niece, although rumors began speculating that the tweets stem from a player’s burner account after the Beltran family denied any relation to this person.
The Astros offseason is a dumpster fire fueled by a river of gasoline. Just when you think it can’t get any worse, a new angle emerges. Despite the growing mountain of evidence against them, MLB has made no indication that they intend to strip the Astros of their championship. Any talk of vacated titles has been coming from cities that feel cheated out of postseason glory.
In that case, there’s no reason to believe the Red Sox are in danger of having their championship vacated. What they are accused of isn’t close to the same thing as what the Astros were caught doing. Boston players allegedly used the replay room to decode signs during games. The video they viewed was legally accessible to them, they simply weren’t using it for the intended purpose. Players then relayed those signs to the batter with old-school methods of a runner on base peeking in to see the sign- a practice that doesn’t break any rules.
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Sure, it’s against the rules to use video to decode signs during games but they just as easily could have watched the tape after the game to gain the same advantage for the next time they face that team. If pitchers and catchers aren’t mixing up their signs, that’s on them.
Plus, the report from The Athletic that initially implicated the Red Sox indicates that this method of sign-stealing wasn’t used during the postseason because the replay rooms were monitored during those games. Therefore, the Los Angeles Dodgers can’t claim they were cheated out of the 2018 World Series.
Cora’s dismissal was warranted based on MLB’s findings that he was the ringleader of the shenanigans going on in Houston. His punishment should be more severe than the one-year suspension AJ Hinch was slapped with, in which case the Red Sox couldn’t afford to leave the leadership of their club in limbo with an interim manager keeping the seat warm until Cora’s eventual return.
The notion that Henry fired Cora out of fear that the Red Sox would be stripped of their championship is ridiculous. If this report is true, it’s an awful look for Henry, who clearly hasn’t been straightforward with his public statements. It suggests Henry made a deal behind closed doors to make Cora the scapegoat in order to save himself. This conspiracy theory is also wildly unnecessary considering the unlikelihood of MLB following through on this threat.
Henry would need to be convinced there was a smoking gun to incriminate his team but MLB’s investigation has thus far yielded limited results. This explanation for Cora getting fired (sorry, “mutually agreeing” to part ways) simply doesn’t make any sense.