Red Sox Manager Alex Cora takes a photo as his daughter, Camila, holds a cutout photo of him during the Boston duck boat parade to celebrate the team’s 2018 World Series championship. Associated Press/Charles Krupa

Here we go again.

For the second time in two months, Alex Cora is caught in the middle of a sign-stealing scandal.

This time the stakes are higher because he was allegedly doing it with the Red Sox during the 2018 regular season, according to a thorough and lengthy report in The Athletic on Tuesday.

It’s going to be a long road back for Cora’s credibility should all of the current accusations prove true. He now risks being known as “the sign-stealing guy” if the Red Sox can’t find new ways to win, especially as MLB looks to crack down and implements new ways of pitcher-catcher communication in the next few years.

Fair or not, it’ll be hard not to wonder how much of Cora’s success – both in 2017 with the Astros and in 2018 with the Red Sox – was because of his sly tactics.

Imagine having the guts to do it again in 2018.


Even after Commissioner Rob Manfred sent a letter to all 30 teams warning not to use the replay video rooms to aid in sign stealing, a legal practice if done by players on the field but not if done while using technology, Cora’s crew reportedly did just that.

According to the report, somebody would study the video feed in the replay room behind the Red Sox dugout, decode the signs and relay them to the players on base.

The 108-win season suddenly looks less impressive, with three people from the Red Sox admitting to cheating in the report.

“Red Sox sources said this system did not appear to be effective or even viable during the 2018 postseason,” the report indicated, an important distinction because of the Sox’s 11-3 record in the playoffs.

The pure dominance of that season will make it difficult to poke too many holes in the team’s success. And yes, all teams are trying to steal signs. The issue is with how it’s done, particularly after Manfred came down light on the Sox for the Apple Watch scandal one year earlier.

In 2017, Manfred said the Red Sox cheated “without the knowledge of ownership or front office personnel.” He continued to say, “I have received absolute assurances from the Red Sox that there will be no future violations of this type.”



Asked if the front office had any idea of the illegal sign-stealing in 2018, Red Sox General Manager Brian O’Halloran declined comment on Tuesday.

MLB can no longer trust the Red Sox’s word, and Manfred has every right to be ticked off.

Cora is already facing potential discipline for his role in the Astros’ trash-can banging. The entire game is watching to see how MLB handles that scandal, and now there’s another for Manfred to investigate.

There’s little doubt that Cora is going to get punished. The game is badly in need of being cleaned up, not only to restore public trust but to speed up these lengthy games that continue to take way too long.

The Red Sox were the slowest team in baseball in 2018, averaging 3 hours, 13 minutes per game. Last year was worse, as the Boston Slowpokes averaged 3 hours, 25 minutes.


Constantly changing signs, stepping off the mound to recycle signs again, stepping out of the box to wait for the runner on second to decode the signs – this all takes time.

Baseball is badly in need of some new communication methods for the pitcher and catcher.

Yahoo Sports reported this week that MLB is exploring the idea of earpieces, but catchers find them too bulky and distracting. More likely is the idea of using a random number generator that changes after each pitch to tell the pitcher which sign is the real one. Or a light system in which only the pitcher can see the signs entered by the catcher onto a keypad.

Here’s one idea: get rid of the replay video rooms. We don’t need them. Fans have to be exhausted of watching the manager put his hand in the air for 1 or 2 minutes after every close play as he waits for the call from the video room just to decide if he wants to challenge it or not. Then we wait another 2 or 3 minutes for the replay review.

If managers want to challenge, they can make the decision in real time based on what they see and what their players tell them. It slows the game down otherwise, and clearly teams are taking advantage of having accessible video feeds during the game.

You can bet Manfred isn’t going to let a few overzealous sign-stealers distort public trust and slow down the games to the pace of an all-day cricket match.

Changes are coming. It’s hard to see a scenario in which Cora doesn’t get suspended.

Fans from 29 other teams are going to wonder just how real the Red Sox’s success was in 2018.

Hopefully there will be fewer questions in 2020 and beyond.

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