Some year suspensions are better than others. For example, the suspension Major League Baseball imposed on Alex Cora could not have been imposed at a more convenient time.
After Cora played a major role in the 2017 Astros’ illegal sign-theft prank, MLB suspended her for the entire 2020 season. The Boston Red Sox let him go, even though he led the team to the World Series championship in 2018 with a flawless and at times brilliant postseason managerial run.
Being deported then was humiliating and caused suffering for his family. But in baseball terms, all Cora missed is 60 Rotten Red Sox games. For the four months after his suspension, he shared the same fate as almost everyone else in baseball: in lockdown at home as the world waited for the coronavirus pandemic to end.
When baseball returned in July, it was for a brief season, and Boston spent only its first day above .500, finishing last in the AL East under Cora’s unlucky placeholder Ron Roenick.
Still, the repercussions and emotional scars of Cora’s poor judgment may not have been fully realized in public until Boston’s American League Division series upset over the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday. During the celebration at Fenway Park in Boston, Cora hugged and kissed her daughter, Camilla, and appeared to wipe tears of joy and relief from her eyes — and hers — then hugged her some more.
Cora admitted in an on-field interview with Fox Sports that Camilla and her entire family had suffered greatly over the past year because of their misdeeds. It was his fault, he said, resulting in a “terrible decision” to participate in a sign-stealing scheme when he was the Astros’ bench coach.
“For those who think it’s in the past, no, we live it every day,” Cora said on Thursday. “I live it every day. We’ve made a mistake and we’re paying the price.”
After the suspension ended after the 2020 World Series, the Red Sox brought Cora back in, as many suspected, even if it involved some difficult conversations about the public setback.
“No, it was easy,” said Red Sox owner John Henry, as Boston beat Tampa on Monday. “He made a huge difference. You see it every night. The decisions he makes, just like in 2018, especially in October. His instincts and intelligence for the game is unmatched.”
Henry commended Cora for helping to paper over the many flaws of this Red Sox team that goes into the American League Championship Series on Friday against the Houston Astros as the underdogs.
Cora has been really candid about those flaws and weaknesses all season long—many of them defensive, players thrown out of position in some cases, and recklessly blunders in others. Most recently, he said after Wednesday’s workout that some of the mistakes he made in the Division Series cannot be repeated if Boston hopes to move on from Houston.
“We just need to work on a few things,” Cora said. “Some things we got better, others we still stink.”
Such blunt assessments are rarely spoken of by the managers of playoff teams. But Cora has a sweet and clear delivery that doesn’t outwardly offend her players for now. This is one of the many ways in which Quora’s influence has been tangible, and even inspired its players to move all the way through to mid-October.
“He’s a guy you’d run through a wall for,” said Boston pitcher Garrett Whitlock. “If he told me to run off that wall, I’d believe he had something to make sure it would fall for me. He’s such a leader.”
Several times during the season the Red Sox were destined for disappointing failure, only to recover and play. Managers are praised for their flexibility, but Red Sox players also deserve credit, as does Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom, whose oft-criticized trade deadline proved to be effective in the long run.
It began with an opening series sweep in Baltimore. Then, after blowing up a healthy divisional lead on the last day of July, the Red Sox suffered a demoralization by the Yankees at home in late September, and then lost two of three to Baltimore in the final series of the season.
In the eyes of many, Boston waved the white flag of defeat and just left. This was not the case. It turned out that they were regrouping for the final assault.
He was cremated again, when they went 5–1 in the final of the regular season against the Washington Nationals, and again when they went 5–2 behind the Rays in the first inning of Game 2 of the Division. Chain. He had the only ace in both of those games, Chris Sells, exited the mound, yet turned over to win.
In Game 2, after a disastrous first inning, Cora swiftly removed the sale, and then began a series of micro pep talks on the bench. Boston won 14-6, and hasn’t lost since.
Red Sox outfielder Alex Verdugo said of the poor start to Game 2, “It was definitely a little bad at first.” “But I just remember going into the dugout and the AC coming up and down, ‘All right, we got a full game, eight more innings. Move on.’ I felt like the tone had really been set.”
It has been the subject of Boston’s season so far, its faulty roster’s ability to keep up. Players are repeatedly credited with fighting back in contention, and are also blamed for earlier mistakes. Same goes for Quora. Many of his decisions worked, but not all.
If he was the manager who merged Boston into the ALCS, he was also the manager who took a four-and-a-half game lead in the division.
As a player in the major leagues for 14 years, Cora made many feel that he would become a general manager, so he was smart in assessing all aspects of the game from the perspective of an executive. But his gift is managing now, and though he learned under the footsteps of a long list of accomplished captains – Davy Johnson, Jim Tracy, Terry Francona, Ron Washington and Jerry Manuel, among them – he has left his mark on the craft.
In 2018, his first year in Boston, Cora manipulated all tactical dials with precision, most notably his use of starting the pitcher from the bullpen in the postseason. He excelled under traditional general manager Dave Dombrowski, and has proven equally capable under an analytically based executive like Bloom.
For some, Cora’s year in exile actually helped cement his position as one of baseball’s elite managers.
“He used the time to improve his life, to be closer to his family, to spend time with them, and to learn from his mistakes,” said Joe Espada, Astros bench coach and a friend of Cora’s. “That time away from baseball helped him become the manager he is today.”
As Espada and Carlos Correa, the Astros gifted the shortstop, people are not surprised by Boston’s success. Correa and Cora form a bond during a later season in Houston – a bond some would note that involved a fraud scandal.
It’s a stigma they all must carry, but as Cora continues to succeed after the scandal, they point to Cora’s return to Boston, which will take her from last place in 2020 to a gap between father and daughter at Fenway Park. lead to an emotional embrace.
“He came in and put them back on the map,” Korea said. He continued, “I am very happy that he is able to achieve this even after doing everything. Not only him, but his family too. It was a beautiful moment for him, for his daughter, for his family. . I am very proud of that.”
James Wagner Contributed to reporting.