Since the Red Sox hired Alex Cora in the middle of the World Series, not much has really happened in the Boston baseball world as we all wait for some of the other big markets around the league to work themselves out. Because of that, the newest manager in team history has been able to stay in the background over his first winter in his new position. This is almost certainly a good thing, since there’s not much good that can come from the manager being in the news when games aren’t being played. Well, it didn’t last all that long, as Cora is in the news this week for the first time as Red Sox manager.
It started on Tuesday when NBC Sports Boston’s Evan Drellich reported on an incident that took place while Cora was still serving as the Astros’ bench coach. You can read the whole report by following the link above, but the cliff notes is as follows. Cora and the rest of the team were traveling back from Florida to Texas and an altercation took place between the coach and broadcaster Geoff Blum. The altercation was not physical and had nothing to do with on-air commentary. After this, manager A.J. Hinch addressed it with Cora and they ended up in another public shouting match. That’s it.
So, let’s get into it. The first thing I’ll say is that I have no problem with Drellich reporting this story. After the entire Price/Eckersley thing throughout 2017, this is a relevant story to the Red Sox. That being said, I take issue with the idea that it could be a potentially bad omen for Cora or the team. The aforementioned Price/Eckersley incident was among the most overblown stories I can remember in recent Boston sports history, and this is absolutely going to be a way for that to continue to be brought up. The term that we have heard about this Cora situation and the one we’ll continue to hear is that it’s a “bad look.” Maybe that’s true, but at the same time, who the hell cares about a “bad look.” Cora is here to win baseball games, and however he interacts with the media really won’t affect that nearly as much as the media would like anyone to believe.
As far as this incident itself, it sounds to me like it was the result of people who spend a hell of a lot of time around each other. If you’ve ever spent a lot of time around anyone — particularly if you’re on the road all the time — you know that tensions tend to boil over at some point or another. Cora apologized for the incident shortly after it occurred and everyone moved on with their lives. This thing happens in sports and with anyone who spends so much time with coworkers. “Bad look” or not, it’s human nature.
The media backlash isn’t going to be all about Cora, either. Just check out this column from the Boston Herald’s Steve Buckley. For his part, Buckley’s issue with all of this isn’t that it happened but that the Red Sox didn’t know about it. According to this column, Dombrowski didn’t know about the incident until Hinch called him following a conversation with Drellich. I don’t really understand Buckley’s issue here. Cora was absolutely the right call for the job and they went through the interview process with him and reportedly talked extensively to Hinch about his former bench coach. As Hinch told Dombrowski after the report was made public, he didn’t mention it because he didn’t view it as a big deal. Is the issue that the Red Sox should have went in a different direction if they had heard about this human nature-related outburst? If so, then you’re issue is with Cora and the potential for more team-media tension. If not, well, then what’s the difference if they had known or not? The only logical explanation would be that they didn’t do their due diligence, but there’s absolutely no reason to believe that is the case simply based on them not knowing about one incident which the involved parties didn’t consider a big deal.
At the end of the day, this story was probably worth mentioning but the consternation being expressed in the aftermath is so over the top and completely expected. There’s no issue here on the side of Cora or the side of the Red Sox. It would be great if this had never happened, but it did and everyone dealt with it then moved on with their lives. It would be cool if the media did the same thing, but we all know this will be brought up any time there’s a shred of discontent in the Boston clubhouse in 2018. Alex, if you didn’t know what you were getting yourself into before, you certainly do now.