Alex Cora Out As Manager of the Red Sox

I never thought that I would see the day that Alex Cora was not at the helm of the Red Sox. The now former manager of the Red Sox is joining A.J. Hinch and Jeff Luhnow in the unemployment line. Following MLB’s report on the cheating scandal, the commissioner suspended Hinch and Luhnow for one season, and took away draft picks for the Astros for 2020 and 2021. The Commissioner’s office is now focusing on the Red Sox. With Alex Cora out now, it’s only a matter of time to see what will happen to Boston.

Just one day after the Astros fired Hinch and Luhnow, the Red Sox mutually parted waysalex cora out with Alex Cora. The Red Sox are now without a manager to begin 2020. Plus, the Red Sox are waiting to see the commissioner’s report regarding the sign stealing that occurred during the 2018 season.

All Signs Pointed to Cora

Not too long ago, former Astros and current ‘s pitcher, Mike Fiers, sat for an interview and claimed the 2017 Houston Astros were stealing signs. From there, the baseball world learned about the banging of trash cans and the real use for the centerfield camera. It was only a matter of time before names were named. One name was Alex Cora. Not long after the Astros won the World Series, their first in franchise history, the Red Sox named Cora their new manager. He went onto lead the team to 108 regular season wins, and won the 2018 World Series.

When the report came out handing down the punishment for the Astros, it mentioned that the bench coach knew what was going on, and assisted in the sign stealing. The report mentioned that the team used the video review room, and alerted batters to pitches by banging on a trash can. The report mentioned that Alex Cora was the mastermind behind it, and many players followed suite.

As far as the Red Sox side of things, it looks like they used the replay room to steal signs during the 2018 season. No trash cans, no baseball bats, and no centerfield camera. Just a replay video room, and only three players admitted it. As far as the mastermind behind that, nobody knows. All we know is that MLB is doing an investigation into it, and it’s only a matter of time before a punishment is handed out.

The Reality of Sign Stealing

This isn’t the first time that teams have stolen signs. People accused the Yankees back in 2015. Back in 2001, members of the New York Giants stated that they stole signs during the 1951 season, most notably against the Brooklyn Dodgers in the famous Game Three when Bobby Thomson homered off Ralph Branca to push the Giants into the World Series. Unless teams or players get caught, there is no way of knowing who knows what.

Sign stealing evolved over time. Technology helped teams steal signs and get ahead in the game. It’s not just a Red Sox or an Astros problem, it’s a Major League Baseball problem. Now with this report out, only time will tell what will happen going forward. The Red Sox will know their fate soon enough.

With Alex Cora Out, Who Will Be the Next Manager of the Red Sox?

With Cora out, and spring training around the corner, the big question is, who will be the next manager of the Red Sox? Many names have been floating around, from Jason Varitek, to Buck Showalter. For Chaim Bloom, this is going to be a tough decision, and one that everyone is going to be watching.

One name that keeps popping up is Ron Roenicke. For the past two seasons, he has been the Red Sox bench coach, and has experience managing a ballclub. Prior to Boston, he was a coach for the Angels and Dodgers. He was also the manager for the Milwaukee Brewers from 2011 to 2015. Roenicke has a record of 342 wins and 331 losses in 673 managerial games.

Shoeless Joe Jackson vs. Hugh Fullerton

One hundred years have passed since sportswriter Hugh Fullerton wrote about eight members of the Chicago White Sox who took money from organized gambler Arnold Rothstein to throw the 1919 World Series. It was a scandal that almost destroyed the game of baseball. Older White Sox fans, many of them still weary from the devastating effects of World War I and the Spanish Flu epidemic that wiped out 30 million people world wide, could hardly process what the eight Black Sox players had done. Young White Sox fans took it even harder as they felt betrayed by their heroes. While the swift punishment handed down by newly minted baseball commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis a year later helped ensure that the game did not meet its demise, the scandal still devastated baseball, and the country. The effect was so tremendous that F. Scott Fitzgerald referenced it in the American classic The Great Gatsby. “It never occurred to me that one man could start to play with the faith of fifty million people–with the single-mindedness of a burglar blowing a safe.”

Born out of that scandal was folk hero “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, one of the eight playersfullerton3 who accepted money from gamblers to throw the series. He had a .375 batting average, 12 RBIs, and hit the series’ only home run in the World Series. These stats, along with making no errors, makes scholars and fans alike question whether he tried to throw the series. Regardless of how well he played, the fact remains that he did take the gamblers money. In fact,  during the 1919 World Series, he inquired on a daily basis about whether he’d get his entire share of the payoff. Despite these details, W.P. Kinsella romanticized Jackson in the novel Shoeless Joe, as well as the subsequent film, Field of Dreams. These forms of media appeal to the emotion of baseball fans who believe in Jackson’s innocence. “He continues to be Shoeless Joe,” says Charles Fountain, a professor of journalism and baseball writer who wrote The Betrayal: The 1919 World Series and the Birth of Modern Baseball in 2015, “…the guy in the cornstalks.”

Why Do We Give Shoeless Joe Jackson a Pass?

While it’s easy to fall prey to these appeals for compassion, it’s just as easy to forget that Jackson was one of eight players who tainted the integrity of the game. So why do we give Shoeless Joe Jackson a pass? This question is as relevant today as it was in 1919. In fact, those who suspected that the World Series was fixed, like writer Hugh Fullerton, tried to tell people like White Sox owner Charles Comiskey, as well as other writers, only to be all but shunned from the game for the rest of his career. So why do fans today raise Cain about injustices against Jackson and ignore Fullerton? Why is Jackson seen as a hero and Fullerton seen as a villain?

Hugh Fullerton Blows the Whistle

Let’s rehash the details first. Eight members of the Chicago White Sox, Shoeless Joe Jackson included, accepted payment to throw the 1919 World Series to the Cincinnati Reds. Hugh Fullerton heard rumors of the fix and sat with New York Giants pitching legend Christy Mathewson in the press box during the World Series to discuss. Together they noted certain suspicious plays for which a White Sox player was charged with an error. They later scrutinized these plays and came to the conclusion that they weren’t honest errors. The White Sox lost the series and the season ended. In December of 1919, Fullerton’s writing blows the scandal wide open. In a story published in the New York World entitled “IS BIG LEAGUE BASEBALL BEING RUN FOR GAMBLERS, WITH BALLPLAYERS IN THE DEAL?” Fullerton demanded that baseball investigate its gambling problem. Jackson, along with the other seven players, stood trial for their crimes and all are acquitted despite their confessions. Landis, now commissioner of baseball, banned the eight players for life anyway. “Regardless of the verdict of juries,” Landis declared, “no player that throws a ballgame; no player that undertakes or promises to throw a ballgame; no player that sits in a conference with a bunch of crooked players and gamblers where the ways and means of throwing games are planned and discussed and does not promptly tell his club about it, will ever play professional baseball.” Jackson dies in 1951, having never played professional baseball again (unless you count Field of Dreams).

Myths and Legends Born Out of Falsities

Three years ago I sat down with Charles Fountain to discuss Jackson and the 1919 Black Sox legacy. Fountain’s book, The Betrayal, a nominee for the 2015 Casey Award, challenges many of the assumptions that baseball fans have about the 1919 World Series, most of which derive from Eliot Asinof’s Eight Men Out that for many years fans took for gospel. For example, Comiskey allegedly promised Eddie Cicotte, one of the eight players involved in the scandal, a $10,000 bonus if he won 30 games during the 1919 season. When Cicotte won his twenty-eighth game, Comiskey ordered Cicotte benched so he wouldn’t have to give him the bonus. Fountain alleges that this isn’t a true story. Not only did Cicotte consistently pitch throughout the season, but there is no evidence in his contract showing that he was ever going to receive a bonus. Then there’s the story that gamblers threatened Lefty Williams when he tried to renege on the deal. The problem with this story is that Williams wasn’t in Chicago at the time that this alleged threat happened. “Asimov was such a beautiful writer,” Fountain said about the famed author during our 2015 talk, “but was not concerned with fact but instead with story.”

Many Fans Don’t Know the Real Details of the 1919 World Series

Most baseball fans aren’t aware of these new insights unless they’ve read Fountain’s book. It is difficult to say how much it would matter though if baseball fans better knew that information. We live in a time where people more readily accept perception over fact, a behavior fueled by impulsive reactions instead of tempered insight. For many baseball fans, Shoeless Joe Jackson represents an idea that one’s sins shouldn’t be held against them indefinitely, especially if their actions defy the very sins they’re accused of committing. For other baseball fans, Jackson is a cause they can rally around to feel good about themselves. Jackson is “sort of wrong victim,” Fountain explains “…and if you take that away you end the story, while it’s a happy resolution for the Jackson people, we then stop talking about it.” So if baseball fans feel that Jackson was slighted, then why don’t they feel the same way about Fullerton, who tried in vain to call attention to the fix? “…if Fullerton had grown disillusioned with the game,” Fountain wrote in The Betrayal, “the game had grown disillusioned with him too, as he was made to feel unwelcome by many who believed he had broken some sort of unspoken code by writing his December 1919 stories, that his fealty to the image of the game should have trumped his fealty to his readers and the truth.”

Fullerton’s Role and Contributions to the Story

Journalist Steven M. Klein wrote his master’s thesis on Hugh Fullerton at Michigan Statefullerton University focusing on a complex man of high morals. Klein details how Fullerton upbringing in Ohio and how McGuffey’s Readers guided his education. William H. McGuffey’s books reflected Protestant ideals that focused on morality, integrity, and education. These books profoundly impacted scientists and doctors because they encouraged critical thinking over rote memorization. Fullerton used these books as a basis for his own moral beliefs throughout his career. One of the ideas that the McGuffey books conveyed to its readers included components of integrity and honesty. Fullerton held these ideas in such high regard that one could argue that they influenced Fullerton to speak out about the 1919 Black Sox scandal. He believed that staying quiet about what he noticed about the 1919 World Series contradicted the beliefs he valued.

Gambling in America’s Victorian Era

Fullerton grew up towards the tale end of the Victorian Era in America and was working full time at the dawn of the 20th century. During this time gambling was becoming more and more rampant in baseball, as well as in general society, which challenged a Victorian-based belief system that valued integrity and honesty. Fullerton was a descendent of that era, and was likely one of the few still clinging to these ideas. So many others sports writers had become accustomed to American disillusionment in post-World War I America that it makes sense that they didn’t want to hear Fullerton’s ramblings about the disintegration of morality and honesty in baseball. As Klein writes, “The game needed to mirror America’ perception of itself as a foursquare land of equal opportunity and limitless possibilities.” Hugh Fullerton’s exposure of the 1919 Black Sox scandal exposed this idea as a falsity.

Hugh Fullerton Received No Recognition for his Role, Only Admonishment

Fullerton was later blackballed from the sports writing world because he had refused to look the other way with the 1919 Black Sox scandal. As a scientist and stats guy, he knew that what the eight White Sox players did was not only wrong, but a major insult to what we know recognize as sabermetrics. “The Black Sox scandal provided sports writers of the time with a unique challenge…but only one was up to it,” Klein writes, “What separated Fullerton, however, was his willingness to write about it while others remained silent.”

Why Doesn’t Anyone Remember or Recognize Hugh Fullerton?

So why don’t baseball fans recognize Fullerton’s contributions to the game, particularly his involvement in the Black Sox scandal? One possible explanation is that he kept people from relying on their willful ignorance; Hugh Fullerton ruined the “ignorance is bliss” excuse for fans, writers, and owners who didn’t want to hear anymore bad news in the wake of the decade’s devastating events. While some might find it hard to blame them, it brings unavoidable attention to the contradiction showing unwavering devotion to a self-admitted crook like Jackson. It also shows an intense resentment towards a man of integrity like Fullerton. Why though? Is it because Jackson’s story is one that gives baseball fans a modicum of hope that he wasn’t a crook rather than a great baseball player? An illiterate man exploited by gamblers? Do fans hope that their own sins may find forgiveness too? Or is it because films like Field of Dreams, a film that symbolizes a bond between father and son so strong that fans confuse its emotional bond with truth? Do fans point to Field of Dreams and say “How can you condemn Shoeless Joe Jackson when he was such an amazing character in the movie?” Regardless of how great of a baseball movie it is (I’ll admit that I love it too), it’s ridiculous to cite it as anything more than a fictitious feel-good movie. It’s not a basis of fact. Jackson willingly accepted Rothstein’s money. It doesn’t matter how well he played in the 1919 World Series.

Does Shoeless Joe Jackson Deserve Induction into the Hall of Fame?

Fans that advocate for Jackson’s removal from baseball’s lifetime ban list should askfullerton2 themselves whether they want him removed for the right reasons. Do they want him removed because of his ban, or so they can feel better about themselves? If it’s the former, then they must also recognize Hugh Fullerton, for he was the writer who tried to preserve the integrity that Jackson’s supporters argue Landis took from him. Does Jackson deserve induction into the Hall of Fame? Probably. But that can’t happen without simultaneously recognizing Fullerton too. For some fans though, that might not be a compromise they want, as it would mean recognizing the sins they’re trying to excuse.

The 115th Edition of the Fall Classic

The 115th edition of the Fall Classic is finally set to go. For the National League, the Washington Nationals will be in their first fall classic, while the American League Champions the Houston Astros will be looking for their second championship in three years. The first game is set to take place on Tuesday night in Houston.

This series will be one nobody should miss. From dominate pitchers to the offensivefall classic abilities of both teams, this will be one to remember. While the Nationals have had about a week off before starting the fall classic, Jose Altuve walked it off against the Yankees on Saturday night. Let’s take a look at both teams before the first pitch is thrown, shall we?

Looking At The Fall Classic

The first game of the 2019 World Series is set for Tuesday night at 8:08pm at Minute Maid Park. The Nationals will have Max Scherzer going in the first game, followed by Stephen Strasburg, and Patrick Corbin. For Houston, It’ll be Gerrit Cole for game one, followed by Justin Verlander, and Zack Greinke.

For the Astros, this will be their third trip to the World Series. As a member of the National League, they lost in 2005 to the Chicago White Sox. They went back in 2017 as a member of the American League, and beat the LA Dodgers in seven games. Now, here they are once again looking for the teams next title. As for the Nationals, this is the team’s first run at the World Series since moving from Montreal. The last Washington team to win the World Series was the Washington Senators in 1924. The team was relocated to Minnesota in 1961 and became the Minnesota Twins.

The Washington Nationals Look For First Title

After sweeping the Cardinals at Nationals Park, the Washington Nationals sent DC into a playoff frenzy. Not too long ago, both the Washington Capitals and the Washington Mystics celebrated Championships. Now, the Nationals are four wins away from having another parade in the Nation’s Capitol.

Between their offense, and their talented rotation of Scherzer, Strasberg and Corbin, they will be the team to beat. They’ve overcome a lot in the postseason so far, and look to continue DC’s success at bringing home championships. The team’s first home game is on Friday, and Nationals Park will surely be packed with Nationals fans ready to sing the ever popular song, Baby Shark.

Houston’s Looking For Their Second Championship

It took all of six games to defeat the Yankees, and the Astros are four wins away from winning their second Championship in team history. After winning in 2017, they came close last year, but were defeated by the Boston Red Sox in the ALCS. Now, they look to reclaim the trophy. First, they need to beat the Nationals, who have a lot to prove.

In the offseason, they acquired Gerrit Cole, and then acquired Zack Greinke at the trade deadline. With these two acquisitions in their rotation, they have been a dominate force in the American League. After winning the World Series in 2017, they kept most of their team, and they have been producing ever since.

World Series Prediction

I have the Nationals winning in seven games. Yes, the Astros have a great core group that was there when they won in 2017. However, the stats seem to side more with DC. The Nationals weren’t supposed to make it this far. Now, after beating the Dodgers and Cardinals, here they are. It’ll be a fun and historic series, there’s no doubt about it. Still, I see a parade in DC. Sorry Houston, you may have a problem in this series.

The Stage Has Been Set for the Championship Series

It’s hard not to watch the postseason, even though the Red Sox are not in it. This postseason had two teams looking for their first World Series win, one team looking for their 28th ring, and another looking to win their second. There’s even one team that has never made it this far. That team is the Washington Nationals. After tying up Game 5, they won it thanks to a grand slam off of Joe Kelly in the 10th inning.

The other Game 5’s were quite exciting as well. The Cardinals took care of business rightchampionship series off the bat. Literally. They scored ten runs in the first inning to beat the Braves in Atlanta 13-1. The Cardinals will be looking to get back to the World Series for the first time since 2013. First, they face the Washington Nationals tonight in the NLCS. Houston took down the Tampa Bay Rays last night with a 5-1 final, and will be facing the Yankees tomorrow night in the ALCS.

The Championship Series Begins Tonight

The National League Championship series begins tonight in St. Louis. Anibal Sanchez will go up against Miles Mikolas in the first game of the championship series. Last time out for Sanchez was on October 6th in which he pitched five innings only allowing one run off of four hits against the Dodgers. Mikolas last pitched against the Braves on October 7th, where he earned the win in the game while pitching in relief.

Game two of the National League Championship Series will be on Saturday afternoon prior to the American League Championship Series. The Cardinals will call on veteran Adam Wainwright for the game. The Nationals haven’t named a starter yet for the second game.

The Yankees and Astros start the American League Championship Series on Saturday night in Houston. Neither team has named a started, but this will be a series to watch. While the Astros look to return to the World Series after missing it last season, the Yankees will be looking to make an appearance in the World Series since 2009.

Notable Players in the Championship Series

By notable, I mean soon to be Free Agents. Players who are looking to not only lead their team to a World Series title, but a player who is showcasing himself to teams who may need him. One of those players is Astros catcher, Robinson Chirinos. He played in four of the five ALDS games against the Rays, batting .222 with one home run. In 2019, he hit .238 with 17 home runs and 58 RBI’s while being an everyday player.

Third baseman Anthony Rendon will be known as one of the guys who homered off of Clayton Kershaw in Game 5 of the NLDS. The 29 year old had a great 2019 season, batting .319 with 34 home runs and 126 RBI’s. He was named to his first All Star game this past season, and won the NL Comeback Player of the Year Award in 2016. Another infielder that’s a free agent is Didi Gregorius. The 29 year old shortstop was traded to the Yankees prior to the 2015 season to fill the void left by Derek Jeter. Despite spending time on the injury list, Gregorius hit .238 with 16 home runs and 61 RBI’s in 78 plate appearances. He is batting .400 with a grand slam this postseason.

One name that will sound familiar to Red Sox fans is Daniel Hudson. The 33 year old relief pitcher was acquired by the Nationals at the 2019 trade deadline. Since joining DC’s bullpen, he was 3-0 with a 1.44 ERA in 24 appearances. He also is 1-0 this postseason with a 0.00 ERA in four games. In 3.2 innings, he’s only allowed four hits and struck out five in the postseason.

The Red Sox, MLB, and the Postseason

Despite the fact that the Red Sox are not in the postseason, it’s hard not to watch this year’s postseason games. Right now, three series are heading into Game five of the Division Series. As for one team, they’re already in the Championship Series after sweeping the Minnesota Twins. For the National League side, Game five is today, while the Astros take on the Rays tomorrow night.

Over the course of the past week, the Red Sox and MLB have been making a few moves.the postseason Teams such as the Mets and Pirates have let go of their managers. For the Red Sox, coaches like Dana LeVangie have either been reassigned, or are no longer with the organization. 2020 is already shaping up to be an interesting season, and the offseason hasn’t even started yet.

The Postseason and the National League Division Series

The National League Division series wraps up tonight. The postseason for the National League has been quite interesting. The Washington Nationals took the Wild Card game from the popular Milwaukee Brewers to go on and face the Dodgers. Now, both the Nationals and Dodgers are in LA to find out who moves onto the Championship Series. Longtime National, Stephen Strasburg will go up against Walker Buehler in the winner takes all game. If I were to take a guess as to who moves on, I’d say the Nationals. While both teams are hungry to win, the Nationals have more to prove.

The next game features the Atlanta Braves and the St Louis Cardinals. Game four looked to be a winner for the Braves, but Yadier Molina and the Cards had other plans. Game four went into extra innings at Busch Stadium, and was won on a walk off by Molina. Jack Flaherty will be pitching for the Cardinals in Atlanta versus Mike Foltynewicz. For this game, I see the Braves winning and moving on.

Houston May Have a Problem

Last night, the Astros sent their ace to the mound on short rest. However, Justin Verlander, who is usually dominate in the postseason, only lasted 3.2 innings, allowing four runs off of seven hits. The Rays went onto take game four with a 4-1 victory in Tampa Bay. Home runs from Tommy Pham and Willy Adames pushed the Rays to victory. Ryan Yarbrough earned the win in the game, pitching two innings, and allowed only two hits.

Game five is tomorrow night at Minute Maid Park in Houston. The Rays will have Tyler Glasnow going up against Gerrit Cole. Whoever wins this game moves onto play the Yankees in the Championship Series on Saturday night. History would have the Astros winning and moving on, and I have to agree with that. The Rays had a great season this year, but their postseason may be over tomorrow night.

What’s Happening Around the MLB

While some teams are enjoying their postseason run, others are making changes to their organization. At the end of the 2019 season, Joe Maddon was let go by the Chicago Cubs. Reports that former Red Sox and Cubs catcher, David Ross is interviewing for the position, as is former Yankee manager, Joe Girardi.

The New York Mets have parted ways with their manager, Mickey Callaway on October 3rd. Callaway, who was a pitching coach with the Indians, became the manager of the Mets on October 23rd 2017. In 324 games with the Mets, he was 163-161. Another manager that was let go is Clint Hurdle of the Pittsburgh Pirates. In 1,456 games in Pittsburgh, Hurdle was 735-720 in the regular season. The 2013 NL Manager of the Year led the Pirates to the postseason in 2013, 2014, and 2015.

Red Sox Update

The Red Sox have made some moves during the postseason. The first was announcing the departure of Assistant Hitting Coach, Andy Barkett. Another announcement was that Dana LeVangie will not be the pitching coach in 2020, but has been moved to the scouting department as a pro scout. Assistant Pitching Coach, Brian Bannister has also been named the Vice President of Pitching Development.

Other changes can, and will most likely be made within the next few weeks. The Red Sox still need to find a replacement for Dave Dombrowski as well. Once the postseason ends, the Red Sox will have another obstacle to face. The question as to who will continue their careers in Boston needs to be addressed. Also, will JD Martinez opt out of his contract? Only time can answer that question. This is going to be a long offseason in Red Sox Nation.