Let's hope that Chaim Bloom came around on Alex Cora after all. Because the alternative calls into question his authority with the Red Sox.
Fair or not, the news that the Red Sox have decided to rehire their former manager is going to shine a spotlight on the club's new chief baseball officer and just how much autonomy he had in making the decision.
The Red Sox will undoubtedly insist that Bloom chose Cora without interference from ownership, and that a process including a half a dozen other candidates naturally led back to the man who brought a World Series to Boston in 2018.
It's hard not to be skeptical. We've known all along the impediment to Cora's return. Ownership loved him. Fans loved him. Media loved him. Players openly lobbied for him.
The lone decision-maker harboring reservations was the man who had inherited him. Bloom arrived last November assuming they'd be working in partnership. Two months later, Cora found himself unemployed, felled by the Astros cheating scandal that had rocked baseball.
His departure was termed a mutual decision, but it always felt reactionary. If ownership loved Cora so much, stand by your man.
But once he departed, that opened the door for Bloom to make his own hire, since the manager-GM relationship is the most important in baseball operations. And Bloom sent consistent signals that he planned to look elsewhere, a point reinforced by the process that ultimately led us back where we started.
With Cora available and ready to be rehired, Bloom still conducted a lengthy search, interviewing multiple candidates and eventually identifying five finalists. The choice reportedly came down to Cora vs. Phillies analytics interpreter Sam Fuld, whom Bloom knew from Tampa.
The Red Sox will insist that at the end of this process, Bloom and Bloom alone chose Cora, and that had better be true. Because otherwise it means that ownership either tacitly or explicitly overruled its baseball boss on his most consequential hire.
The last time that happened, we ended up with Bobby Valentine. At least this time around, we already know that Cora ain't Bobby V. He rejoins the organization with the instant respect of his former co-workers and was always the candidate who could most seamlessly fill the role.
Cora's selling points were never a mystery, however. This was always about Bloom. The Red Sox hired him to make baseball decisions, and if he wanted someone else, he should've gotten him.
Once Cora officially joined the candidate pool, it became infinitely tougher to sell a newcomer on the fanbase or clubhouse. Imagine bypassing a beloved figure for a first-timer like Fuld? The last thing a rookie manager needs to be greeted with is resentment.
The mere act of considering Cora for the job put Bloom in a box. In retrospect, about the only way Bloom could've gotten away with an unproven hire would be if the White Sox had tabbed Cora to oversee their young nucleus instead of septuagenarian Tony La Russa (now THERE'S an ownership hire).
And so Cora returns, news that will undoubtedly be greeted enthusiastically throughout the organization and fanbase. But if we're wondering it, no doubt some of Bloom's co-workers are, too: Was this really his choice?