If there's one question that has hovered over Alex Cora's central role in the Astros cheating scandal, it's this: if it worked so well in Houston, why didn't he bang on trash cans in Boston, too?
Cora took his first stab at answering on Tuesday during his official reintroduction as Red Sox manager during a Zoom press conference.
"That's a great question, and I got that from other people," Cora said. "I didn't feel like we needed to do something like that, honestly. I know people will not believe me in that sense, you know, 'Why not bring it here? It was that effective.' I don't know, I just decided, in that offseason, to not bring it here."
Depending on how you feel about the rigorousness of internal MLB investigations, you may or may not buy the league's exoneration of Cora after allegations that the Red Sox stole signs in 2018, with punishment instead falling on replay staffer J.T. Watkins.
But what's not in dispute is the message the Red Sox sent Cora during his first spring, when they made compliance with league rules mandatory following their own brush with disgrace during the Apple Watch fiasco in 2017. Both president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski and general manager Brian O'Halloran expressed the team's zero-tolerance approach to malfeasance shortly after Cora arrived.
"We had some conversations actually in spring training about a lot of stuff, from BOH to Dave to the people that were around, I think at that point, people were starting to talk about what was going on around the league," Cora said. "It wasn't worth it. It wasn't worth it. But also, there's an article out there and there's a guy out there that decided to take a step and say what happened over there, and I paid the price. The way I can put it, it's like, I decided, no, we don't need to do that."
And that appears to be our answer: now that he was sitting in the big chair, Cora allowed himself to be scared straight.
"The organization was very loud and clear about the whole sign-stealing stuff and what happened before with the organization and other organizations, and they walked me through it," Cora said. "And in the meetings in spring training, with MLB, when I talked to them, it was like, 'Wow, I better not even try to do something like that. That's the way I can put it."