BOSTON — A day after Bill Belichick did not grasp the moment, Alex Cora did.
In front of a relatively small pack of media on Monday at Fenway Park, Cora was reflective when asked about the meaning of 106 wins.
He did not secure a world championship with a 6-2 win over the hapless Orioles in late September. But in 106 victories, a franchise record, he found not only meaning, but the presence of mind to share that meaning.
He showed an appreciation for steps in a journey, even if — in this bottom-line driven business — he's not yet at the pinnacle.
“It’s something that is all over the place,” Cora said when asked if he’s been able to reflect, “and everybody is talking about it. It's a historic franchise. For me, personally, coming from where I come, being able to manage at the big-league level, I'm the second Puerto Rican to ever manage in the big leagues. You guys know how I feel — that's why I have this [shirt representing Puerto Rico]. For this to happen is very special.
“We sit down at home and sometimes we're in awe, like, ‘This is really happening?’ It's been great. It's been fun. We're going to call time out and enjoy this one, and we're going to get back to business tomorrow. But we should enjoy this one.”
Call "time out" and reflect for a few minutes? What?
Actually, it's OK to act like a human in the public eye.
Belichick could have done the same Sunday. When asked about his employee of 14 years, Lions head coach Matt Patricia, Belichick did the opposite.
“Look, my job is my football team and that’s what I’m worried about,” Belichick said when asked if he was happy Patricia got his first win, albeit against the Pats. “That’s what I’m concerned about, that’s what my job is.”
No one is owed anything at a podium, to be clear. Belichick, Cora — no one has to say anything of substance publicly.
But there is a choice made. And those choices create looks, give impressions, and even send messages. Some just make more sense than others.
Belichick’s answer indicates he thinks he'd be stepping out of line after a loss to address a basic human emotion, such as pride in an understudy.
Mentorship and friendship are not viable topics after a loss, apparently. But why?
Somewhere along the way in the world of sport, it became taboo to express any interest outside the ultimate prize, any sentimentality towards anything but What Matters Most.
Based on his public comments, Belichick is the modern day leader in this ideology. Perhaps, in his world, he thinks he would be doing his football team or himself a disservice by publicly congratulating Patricia after a loss.
No one would take it that way. No one thinking logically, anyway. Even a God among mortals on a football field is capable of mixed feelings.
Ignoring the obvious doesn't help a football team. If anything, Belichick sent a message that the result on the field for one day mattered more than a relationship of a decade and a half.
There's no better look than embracing reality, even if it means stepping away from old norms. Cora did that, to his credit. Belichick did not.