Alex Cora facing lifetime ban?

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Ray Burton
Ray writes mostly in-depth analytical pieces covering a range of sports from a more statistical perspective drawing his inspiration from the fanalytics movement. Ray writes on the NFL, Premier League, MLB, NHL, NBA, and NRL.

Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora is facing an anxious wait to find out precisely what his punishment will be. MLB have already suspended Houston Astro’s GM and Manager for a year, and will now turn their full attention on Cora and the Red Sox.

Despite previous memos from MLB throughout 2017 and 2018 warning clubs not to use technology to steal opposing teams signals, the Astros implemented a system in 2017 to do just that. Then Astro’s bench coach, Alex Cora, was heavily instrumental in the development of the Astro’s setup.

Alex Cora Heavily Implicated

Throughout the MLB statement released yesterday, Alex Cora is mentioned numerous times, seemingly as a ringleader, or at the very least a key component in the operation of the scheme.

“Early in the (2017) season, Alex Cora, the Astros’ Bench Coach, began to call the replay review room on the replay phone to obtain the sign information…Cora arranged for a video room technician to install a monitor displaying the center field camera feed immediately outside of the Astros’ dugout.”

The scheme continued throughout 2017, and into 2018, despite the Boston Red Sox being caught stealing signals, and receiving a fine during the 2017 season.

While the report does directly point out that the scheme was “player-driven”, with now Mets manager Carlos Beltran at the forefront, no players have been punished, and seem unlikely to be. When MLB began their investigations they said Managers and GM’s would be held responsible, and this seems to still hold.

Punishments

The stance being taken by Major League Baseball is why Alex Cora needs to be very concerned about his future role in the league. With no players facing punishments, his forward positioning within the scheme and the extensive mentioning of his name throughout the report, it begins to look like he will be the poster boy for sign stealing.

The investigation in the Boston Red Sox use of technology to steal signals in 2018 will likely very damaging to Cora. If the scheme continued or was expanded in 2018 or 2019, the chances of a lifetime ban increase dramatically, particularly in the scheme is similar in structure to that at the Astros’.

Because while the Astros’ scheme was “player-driven”, if Alex Cora installed a similar system in Boston, this would be a manager-driven scheme which would be not only horrendous optics for the league but devastating for Alex Cora.

Alex Cora is done in MLB © Barry Chin/Globe Staff
Alex Cora is done in MLB © Barry Chin/Globe Staff

With the Astros losing four draft picks, receiving a $5 million fine, and suspension of their GM and Manager, the punishments for the Red Sox would likely be harsher. Like the Astros’, the Red Sox would win the World Series while using technology to steal signals.

Consider this snippet from the MLB statement:

Cora was involved in developing both the banging scheme and utilizing the replay review room to decode and transmit signs. Cora participated in both schemes, and through his active participation, implicitly condoned the players’ conduct. I will withhold determining the appropriate level of discipline for Cora until after the DOI completes its investigation of the allegations that the Red Sox engaged in impermissible electronic sign stealing in 2018 while Cora was the manager.

Astros’ owner Jim Crane wasted no time in cleaning house in Houston. Both GM Jeff Luhnow and Manager AJ Hinch were fired within minutes of the MLB report. Fully cleared of any knowledge of the scheme Crane was visibly disturbed by the depth of the scheme and made no bones about moving forward. It is likely the Red Sox will do the same if it is found a scheme was being run during their series-winning campaign.

At the very least Cora faces a very lengthy suspension, and very possibly a lifetime ban. Even if he only receives a multi-year ban it is hard to see him every managing in the majors again.

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