Red Sox

Red Sox manager Alex Cora's role in Astros' scandal detailed in MLB report

Red Sox manager Alex Cora's role in Astros' scandal detailed in MLB report

The Houston Astros received an unprecedented punishment from Major League Baseball on Monday for a system created to steal signs from opposing teams, and the Boston Red Sox could be the next team to face harsh penalties.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora was the Astros' bench coach for the 2017 season and was a key player in the team's sign-stealing scandal. The league had been investigating the Astros for several months, and the penalties stemming from that are quite severe. Houston manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow both were suspended for a year. The Astros also lost first- and second-round draft picks in 2020 and 2021, in addition to a $5 million fine.

The harshest punishment could be yet to come, though. The league also is investigating the 2018 Red Sox for their own sign-stealing methods. Cora managed that Red Sox squad to a World Series title after winning a franchise-record 108 regular season games.

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

The MLB, in its report on the Astros, concluded Hinch neither created nor participated in the Astros' sign-stealing methods, and yet he still got suspended for an entire season. Cora, on the other hand, played a much larger role in the whole process. The league's conclusion of Cora's role does not bode well for his chances of managing for Boston in 2020 (or even beyond).

From the league's report:

Cora arranged for a video room technician to install a monitor displaying the center field camera feed immediately outside of the Astros’ dugout. (The center field camera was primarily used for player development purposes and was allowed under MLB rules at the time when used for that purpose.) Witnesses have provided largely consistent accounts of how the monitor was utilized. One or more players watched the live feed of the center field camera on the monitor, and after decoding the sign, a player would bang a nearby trash can with a bat to communicate the upcoming pitch type to the batter. (Witnesses explained that they initially experimented with communicating sign information by clapping, whistling, or yelling, but that they eventually determined that banging a trash can was the preferred method of communication.) Players occasionally also used a massage gun to bang the trash can. Generally, one or two bangs corresponded to certain off-speed pitches, while no bang corresponded to a fastball.

Here's the summary on Cora from the league's investigation of the Astros.

Alex Cora (Bench Coach). 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.

Cora's name is mentioned 11 times in the nine-page report released by the league Monday.

The best way to deter a team and/or coach from participating in rule-breaking activity is to come down with a huge punishment. The league certainly did that with the Astros, and this should make Cora and the Red Sox very nervous. It's probably time for the Red Sox to come up with a list of potential manager replacements.

Jason Varitek's strikeout call as umpire in Red Sox scrimmage is fantastic

Jason Varitek's strikeout call as umpire in Red Sox scrimmage is fantastic

Jason Varitek may have found a new calling in calling batters out.

The former Red Sox catcher, whose official title with Boston is "Special Assistant/Catching Coach," moonlighted as the home-plate umpire in the team's intrasquad scrimmage Thursday at Fenway Park.

Get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App

But Varitek didn't just half-heartedly call balls and strikeouts. Nope, he was committed to the bit, dressing up in full umpire attire to stand behind the plate.

Oh, and his strikeout call was a thing of beauty:

Leslie Nielsen would be proud.

Varitek didn't go all-out for all of his strikeout calls, but he didn't hesitate to punch out Red Sox stars like J.D. Martinez.

Varitek got to know major league umpires very well during his 15-year playing career in Boston, so if anyone on the Red Sox' staff is qualified for this job, it's him.

Thursday marked the Sox' first simulated game action since they opened Training Camp at the beginning of the month. They're set to begin the shortened 2020 season July 24 with a home series against the Baltimore Orioles.

Red Sox schedule 2021: Dates, opponents for 162-game season revealed

Red Sox schedule 2021: Dates, opponents for 162-game season revealed

Major League Baseball is looking ahead to (hopefully) brighter days.

The Red Sox don't begin their coronavirus-shortened 2020 season until July 24, but that didn't stop Boston and the rest of the league from unveiling their full schedules for the 2021 MLB season Thursday.

Here's the Red Sox' full 2021 schedule, which at the moment includes 162 games.

Boston will open the 2021 season against the Baltimore Orioles on April 1, 2021, at Fenway Park and play its first nine games against American League East opponents.

Get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App

The Red Sox' 2021 schedule also includes interleague matchups with the National League East, who they'll see plenty of this summer during their 60-game campaign.

The Sox don't face the New York Yankees until June 4 at Yankee Stadium but will play a total of 14 games against their archrival between June and July.

With COVID-19 still hitting the United States hard, it's much too early to tell if the 2021 season will start on time or if fans will be allowed at games. But at the very least, the league has a schedule in place should things drastically improve over the next seven months.