UPDATE (Jan. 14, 7:26 p.m.) — The Red Sox and Alex Cora have "mutually agreed to part ways."
Major League Baseball just nuked the Astros, and pardon my use of legalese, but it sure looks like Alex Cora is !%?@#ed.
The Red Sox manager's time in the barrel is coming, and it's not going to be pretty.
Based on (a) MLB's evisceration of Houston's leadership and (b) how Cora's name is all over the nine-page report that should do more to curb cheating than any Article 46 haymaker indiscriminately uncorked by Roger Goodell, the Red Sox could be in the market for a new manager.
"WHOAAA!" does not even begin to describe the reaction when MLB handed out its punishments on Monday.
For being in charge when the Astros stole signs during their championship 2017 season and continuing into 2018, manager A.J. Hinch and GM Jeff Luhnow were each suspended for a full season. An hour later, they were fired. The team was also docked its first- and second-round picks in the next two drafts and fined the maximum of $5 million allowed under the MLB constitution.
With all due respect to Deflategate and the passions that inflames around here, you might have to journey back more than 30 years to SMU's football program receiving the death penalty to find an institutional punishment this harsh.
The natural follow-up is what it means for Cora, and let's just say he might want to take up a hobby, because it's hard to imagine baseball completing its investigation into allegations that the Red Sox illegally stole signs during their 2018 championship season and deciding that community service will suffice.
Those of us who expected MLB to lay down the law as a deterrent against future malfeasance still had our breath taken away. The league says that Cora played a central role in the Astros' efforts — much to Hinch's displeasure, according to the investigation — and he will certainly be held institutionally responsible for whatever rules MLB determines the Red Sox broke.
"Cora arranged for a video room technician to install a monitor displaying the center field camera feed immediately outside of the Astros' dugout," the report reads.
He is described as the only non-player intricately involved in the scheme, which included the infamous banging of trash cans to signify offspeed pitches, which was revealed by the ace reporting of Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich at The Athletic.
But the real killer comes in the report's conclusion:
Cora was involved in developing both the banging scheme and utilizing the replay review room to decode and transmit signs. Cora participated in both schemes, and through his active participation, implicitly condoned the players' conduct. I will withhold determining the appropriate level of discipline for Cora until after the DOI completes its investigation of the allegations that the Red Sox engaged in impermissible electronic sign stealing in 2018 while Cora was the manager.
That sounds like someone who's about to feel the full force of MLB discipline. Within an hour of the Luhnow and Hinch suspensions, Astros owner Jim Crane fired them. As unthinkable as this sounded a week ago, Cora should prepare himself for a similar fate, because his alleged actions have embarrassed the Red Sox, tainted their 2018 title, and ruined his own reputation.
What a stunning day.