Cheating and sign-stealing:
The biggest scandal in a long time to rock the baseball world was brought to the forefront again when Major League Baseball dropped the hammer on the Houston Astros for their sign-stealing scheme in 2017 and 2018. Manager AJ Hinch and GM Jeff Luhnow were both suspended for a year (and subsequently fired by owner Jim Crane), the team was fined $5 million and they lost their first- and second-round draft picks in 2020 and 2021.
Most damning of all for the Red Sox, Alex Cora was named as the “ringleader” in the league’s report. Combined with the revelation a couple of weeks ago that the Red Sox improperly used the replay room to steal signals in the 2018 regular season, it was a bad look.
Whether the Red Sox part in the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scandal has been blown out of proportion or not, it doesn’t matter anymore because in modern-day sports, perception is reality. Once Major League Baseball finishes looking into the Red Sox and Cora’s involvement, this will be the second time the Red Sox will have been disciplined (remember the Apple Watch incident in 2017 under John Farrell?) and so to many baseball fans, they are cheaters. While the Astros acted decisively in firing their bad actors, it seemed as though the Red Sox were going to let Cora twist in the wind until the league finished their investigation.
The majority of the fanbase (myself included) called for the team to fire Cora immediately since he’d already tainted the team with what he did in Houston and the remnants he brought over to Boston. The team finally decided they wouldn’t wait for MLB’s findings and “mutually agreed to part ways with” Cora on Wednesday evening (translation: he was fired). Cora looks like he’s facing a lengthy suspension if not an outright lifetime ban and while the Red Sox did the right thing in firing him, they’re still waiting on the league’s findings and whatever punishment is doled out to them.
Beyond that, now the Red Sox face the specter of starting spring training in one month without a manager. Common sense would seem to dictate that they should just promote bench coach Ron Roenicke to interim manager, ride out the 2020 season, and then clean house and let Bloom pick his own manager in 2021 (this is my preferred course of action). Of course, this is assuming that Roenicke and the rest of Cora’s coaching staff weren’t involved in the cheating scandal.
Whether they decide to promote from within or try and scramble to find someone external, the clubhouse has the potential to be thrown into flux going into a season that already looked like it was going to be a struggle. This is what they call in layman’s terms “a disaster.”