Alex Cora Likely To Be The Face Of MLB’s Video-Cheating Scandal

Alex Cora Likely To Be The Face Of MLB’s Video-Cheating Scandal

If I were Alex Cora, I would be very, very nervous right now.

The punishments from the Astros’ video-cheating scandal are severe, and will forever cast the team’s most successful era in the harshest of lighting. Their success can no longer be viewed as entirely legitimate, and their 2017 Championship will be asterisked as permanently as the 1919 Reds’ is. The stain from this will linger over this group of players for as long as they play together, and – who knows? – could potentially cloud voters’ outlooks on individual awards going forward, and even Hall of Fame voting.

This is one of the worst scandals that the game has seen, and someone’s going to be the face of it. 

Enter Alex Cora. His story seemed like the kind of feel-good narrative that MLB most loves to promote. A tiny infielder from Puerto Rico, he scraped and clawed his way to the major leagues and carved out a 14-year career, lauded all the way for his work ethic, attitude, and the leadership intangibles he brought to the clubhouse. After retiring, he became the first manager of color in the history of the Red Sox – a significant moment for the last organization to integrate – and led the team to a World Series title in his first season.

Or so we thought.

What we know now is that Alex Cora actively stacked the deck for two World Series Champions, perhaps changing the outcome of multiple seasons. Pete Rose never reached the playoffs as a gambler, and was banned for life; the Black Sox got the same, and they only affected one series. Alex Cora, in the face of explicit instructions from the Commissioner’s office, developed and implemented sophisticated systems to illegally steal signs, both in the regular season and playoffs. He did it as a coach, and as a manager. He did it for years.

It is hard, in that context, to imagine that Alex Cora will ever be allowed to work in major-league baseball again.

This is not the end of the story, either. The Red Sox will face organizational punishments as well, and the Yankees have been implicated too, at least at the player level. There will certainly be new league-wide punishment standards put in place, likely targeting individual players who choose to cheat in the future. Perhaps, as I’ve written before, the league will look at physically removing video rooms from the stadiums, or clamping down on who’s allowed to work in or access them during games. It does not appear that the outcome of any games or seasons will be changed (nor should they be; that’s a slippery slope with no bottom).

But this is worse, in some ways, than both the steroid era and the Black Sox scandal. Steroids were not banned when the bulk of that era’s excesses occurred. Gambling was nodded and winked at until MLB could no longer ignore it, following the 1919 World Series. This scandal involved behavior that was already explicitly banned. This was an organization flipping a double-bird at the commissioner of the game. It’s already cost AJ Hinch and Jeff Luhnow their jobs, and they weren’t even the ones driving the bus.

That man was Alex Cora, and he’s almost certainly going to find himself underneath that bus very soon.

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