Red Sox skipper Alex Cora won’t be calling on the Umps
We’re a few days into the “Sticky Stuff Era,” and things are getting absolutely insane already. From superstars like Jacob deGrom and Shohei Ohtani laughing off umpire inquiries to the meltdown of Max Scherzer last night, the league is all over the place. While no member of the Red Sox pitching staff has been checked by the umpires due to a managerial request, that could all change tonight with Garrett Richards on the mound.
The spin-rate master has admitted to using the combo of rosin and sunblock to enhance his grip but was firm in that he didn’t use any of the more nefarious tactics seen around the league. While we have to take him at his word we can also believe that there could be some fibbing going on with his denial. Considering he was signed based on his spin-rate, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Kevin Cash use his managerial right to have the umps check the righty.
As for the Red Sox, Alex Cora made it clear during his pre-game media visit that he wouldn’t question a pitcher unless it was blatantly obvious that something sketchy was happening.
"“I talked to the players already,” Cora said before Boston’s game against the Rays on Wednesday. “Obviously I’m coming from a different situation than 28 other managers. Yeah, I know I have a job to do. I’m the manager of the Red Sox. But what we did in ‘17 was a lot bigger than I think was going on (with foreign substances).”"
It’s no surprise that Alex wants to stay out of the mess with his history and recent suspension for the 2017 sign-stealing scandal. When this snowball began rolling a few weeks ago he made known to his team what it felt like being under the microscope and having to wear the scarlet letter. While the pitcher in question will surely catch the brunt of the outrage we all know that it’ll devolve into, “Welp, Cora is cheating again.” And that’s the main reasoning for why he doesn’t want to throw anyone else under the bus.
He rightfully admits that what they did in Houston that season was light years worse than some guys using substances to grip a ball better. Yeah, it’s still cheating and against the rules, but it isn’t the most egregious thing that’s hit baseball. AC knows that there may come a time when he has to call upon the umpires to check on a pitcher but he also made it clear that he won’t be one of those managers abusing the opportunity.
We saw Joe Girardi get cute with Max Scherzer last night and it wound up getting the manager ejected and almost in a fight with the testy pitcher. It’s those instances that MLB needs to monitor and crackdown on if they want this squashed. Otherwise, you’re going to have games lasting all damn night because managers will be wanting to check opposing pitchers each and every inning.
"“And for me to check on a pitcher, on a personal note, it’s like, ‘What are you doing? You messed up two years ago and now you’re trying to point the finger at a guy that has a substance,’” Cora explained. “Obviously, at one point, if we have to do it because it’s just out of control and we see it, then we’ll address it. But as of now, I don’t see it. I don’t see it.”"
Cora is a smart guy, I think we can all agree on that, and he sees the bigger picture here with this mess. He knows that with his history if he starts pointing his finger at others that it will just blowback on him. It’s also clear that he’s taking this second chance of his very seriously and doesn’t want to see others suffer the same way he had to for poor decision-making.
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Major League Baseball was rocked by the steroid scandal, and then by the sign-stealing scandal, but this is far from those transgressions. Those that have come forward and said they use something to help with their grip will also mention they need it due to the construction of the baseball.
With MLB constantly tinkering with the build of the ball it has to be a nightmare for pitchers to get comfortable. Do I think something needs to be done? Without a doubt. Do I think the league could’ve handled this much better? Absolutely. But that’s a topic for another day and this is about Cora and the Red Sox.
For a while, we saw Boston stay pretty close to what their stats had been pitching-wise while others around the league saw their spin-rates plummet. Now some hurlers on the squad seem to be losing some of that spin and it’s a little suspicious. I’m not saying anyone is doing anything as that would be reckless of me, but it would also be reckless to say the timing isn’t a bit coincidental.
At the end of the day, this will be another chapter in the long torrid history of Major League Baseball. Not as long as some others but still a chapter nonetheless. For Alex Cora, it would be in his best interest to put the fear of God in his players as the spotlight will be the biggest on him if his guys get busted. The Red Sox skipper is on a redemption tour to prove he doesn’t need any schemes or plots to win, and any bump in the road will surely halt that tour.