Speaking to ESPN's Marly Rivera this week, Cora accepted responsibility for his actions while shedding new light on details he could not share publicly while Major League Baseball's investigation was ongoing. He also said he felt unfairly singled out and others in the Astros organization also deserve blame.
Before we dig into Cora’s comments, here’s a refresher course on what happened.
Alex Cora's role and punishment
Cora’s role in the Houston Astros scandal was clear according to the commissioner’s office investigation. It was determined he played a significant role in Houston’s high-tech scheme to illegally steal and relay signs through the use of cameras and the banging of dugout trash cans. The scheme was developed during Houston’s 2017 run to the World Series.
His punishment, however, was a little more confusing in how it was presented.
Like Astros manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow, Cora received a one-year suspension for his role in the Astros scheme. However, Cora’s punishment wasn’t officially announced until after a similar investigation was launched into Red Sox sign-stealing.
The Red Sox were disciplined for infractions that occurred during Cora's first season as manager in 2018. Like Houston one year earlier, Boston would go on to win the World Series.
J.T. Watkins, the Red Sox video replay system operator, took the fall for Boston. He was suspended for the 2020 season and postseason. As for Cora, the report specifically noted his suspension stemmed solely from what happened in Houston.
The end result was the most clear. Hinch and Luhnow were immediately fired by the Astros. Likewise, Cora was quickly fired by Boston for his role in the Houston scheme. Carlos Beltran, who had just been hired as New York Mets manager, was also fired. Beltran was an active player for the 2017 Astros.
‘We’re all at fault’
In the months since his dismissal, Cora has remained mostly silent. That all changed in his ESPN interview.
Cora says he takes responsibility for his role, but has been bothered by how he feels some in the Astros organization have positioned him as the mastermind who created the scheme and coaxed others to get involved. In reality, Cora says everyone was on board.
"I deserve my suspension and I'm paying the price for my actions,” Cora says. “And I am not proud of what happened. We made a mistake as a group, the entire [Astros] team. What happened was something that, if you ask anyone involved, no one is proud of it. We're all at fault. Everybody. We're all responsible. Everyone who was part of the team from around mid-May until the end of the season, we are all responsible."
A couple things of note here. First, Cora confirms the timeline of when the scheme began. He also places responsibility on the players. Those same players received immunity for their cooperation in the investigation and were not punished. That part has been a sore spot for fans.
"Out of this whole process, if there is one thing that I completely reject and disagree with is people within the Astros' organization singling me out, particularly [former general manager] Jeff Luhnow, as if I were the sole mastermind. The commissioner's report sort of explained, in its own way, what happened. But the [Astros players] have spoken up and refuted any allegations that I was solely responsible."
"If there is one thing I am absolutely sure of, it is that it was not a two-man show. We all did it. And let me be very clear that I am not denying my responsibility, because we were all responsible."
When — or perhaps if — the Astros have a reunion to celebrate the 2017 championship team, it’s going to be the most awkward reunion ever.
While Cora’s relationship with his former Astros cohorts seems irreparable, he is hoping someone in baseball will be willing to give him another chance.
In the meantime, he’s enjoying time with his family.
"Right now, all I care about is my personal life and my family. This has not been an easy time for us, and it's my fault," he said. "Do I want to return the game? Absolutely. That's why I worked so hard for so many years before being named Red Sox manager. But right now, all of that is secondary. My focus is on much more important things."
Baseball and sports in general have always been open to giving second, third and even fourth chances. It seems inevitable that Cora will get another chance sooner or later. We’d be willing to bet on sooner.
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