Multiple media reports are now confirming that Alex Cora will be returning to Boston as skipper of the Red Sox. As the country is largely tuned into news programs waiting for developments on the election results, this caught some fans by surprise since he was fired back in January after being connected to the cheating scandal surrounding the Houston Astros. He was also suspended by the league for the role he allegedly played in trash can banging scheme, which raised a lot of questions about whether he’d ever actually return to the dugout.
But as coverage of the coronavirus and the 2020 presidential election have caused folks to almost forget about the whole scandal, most fans hadn’t really thought about it for awhile. That’s not to say there won’t be some PR related issues for Boston to address, but Cora’s role in the scandal isn’t as toxic as it was just 10 months ago.
On top of that, there’s simply no ignoring how passionate Boston fans are about their Red Sox and there’s a lot of frustration with how the team played in the pandemic shortened 2020 season. Even before team officials fired Roenicke, the abysmal product on display at Fenway Park had fans longing for Alex Cora and the success Boston had while winning the World Series in 2018.
Even in the immediate aftermath of Cora’s firing, the team largely spoke positively of the skipper and his time in Boston. Xander Bogaerts, for instance, met with his former manager the day after he was fired and told reporters he’d want “someone like” Cora as the team’s new manager. Several other players had good things to say about the skipper and team executives treated him with respect when announcing his departure. Instead of attacking his character like they could have in hopes of distancing the team from the scandal, after all, the team suggested the scandal simply put him in a spot where he couldn’t “effectively lead the club” at the time.
“Given the findings and the commissioner’s ruling, we collectively decided that it would not be possible for Alex to effectively lead the club going forward and we mutually agreed to part ways,” John Henry and team executives said in a statement.
With all that being said, there has been some division over whether or not bringing Cora back was the right move. But there definitely was a sense most people leaned towards being excited about the decision.
Some pundits on WEEI were saying that the move reminds them of the New England Patriots in how his return can almost be seen as being defiant of league officials who were trying to place a lot of blame for the cheating scandal on Cora. They highlight that nobody is doubting whether or not the Puerto Rico native was qualified to lead the team, it was simply whether or not his return would be worth the resulting PR nightmare. Having a successful 2021 season could very well prove the results were worth any PR struggles.
Keeping along those lines, there was a general sense that Alex was viewed as a scapegoat because the league didn’t believe they couldn’t punish the responsible players without angering the player’s union. Considering how members of the Boston media are already having this line of discussion, it’s reasonable to assume the PR consequences of bringing him back might not be too severe.
On top of that, Chad Jennings of the Athletic pointed out fans would likely compare anybody else the team brought in to Alex Cora.
“In that sense, Cora was the Red Sox safest choice,” Jennings wrote. “Any other manager would have faced an inevitable comparison. Early losing streak? Cora could have stopped it. Underperforming player? Cora would have known what to say. Disappointing season? Not on Cora’s watch. He maintains some benefit of the doubt, even beneath the weight of his past transgressions.”
Instead of the inevitable comparisons, Boston fans will now have much of the same coaching staff that have led the Red Sox to success. The only difference to the last time Cora was in the dugout is Roenicke won’t be the bench coach. After Cora was fired, Roenicke had stepped into the skipper role and was eventually fired due to the horrible performance the team had in the 2020 season.
Moving forward, there’s no doubt the team will need to address the scandal and the role Cora played in it. But this is largely viewed as an example of how we largely believe people deserve a second chance and it will likely be a non issue if it’s handled correctly. As a result, we’ll hopefully see Boston start rebuilding the team.