The Boston Red Sox fired manager Alex Cora on Tuesday, a day after baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred implicated him in the sport’s sign-stealing scandal.
Cora was the bench coach for the Houston Astros when they illicitly stole signs and won the 2017 World Series. He then led Boston to the title the following year in his first season as manager. Astros manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow were fired on Monday, an hour after Manfred suspended them for the 2020 season for their role in the cheating scheme.
Manfred’s nine-page report mentioned Cora 11 times, describing him as a key person in the planning and execution of the cheating scheme.
Cora met Tuesday with Red Sox management, less than a month before the start of spring training.
“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,” the team said in a statement attributed to owner John Henry, chairman Tom Werner, CEO Sam Kennedy and Cora.
Manfred said Cora was among those who “originated and executed” aspects of the cheating scheme, in which the team used a centre field camera to decode catchers’ signals to pitchers and banged on a trash can with a bat or massage gun near the dugout to let hitters know which pitch was coming.
Manfred announced he was withholding punishment of Cora until completing a separate investigation of accusations the Red Sox stole signs in 2018. Indications were the penalty would be equal or greater than what Hinch and Luhnow received.
“We agreed today that parting ways was the best thing for the organization,” Cora said in a statement released by the Red Sox. “I do not want to be a distraction to the Red Sox as they move forward.”
New Mets manager and former Astros player Carlos Beltran also was implicated by Manfred in his report Monday, the only player mentioned. Manfred decided that no players would be disciplined for breaking rules prohibiting the use of electronics to steal catcher’s signs in 2017 after levying penalties against Boston and the New York Yankees.
The Mets have not commented on Beltran’s status.
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The Los Angeles Dodgers lost the 2017 World Series to the Astros and again in 2018 to the Red Sox.
“All clubs have been asked by Major League Baseball not to comment on today’s punishment of the Houston Astros as it’s inappropriate to comment on discipline imposed on another club,” Los Angeles said in a statement Monday night. “The Dodgers have also been asked not to comment on any wrongdoing during the 2017 World Series and will have no further comment at this time.”
A member of Boston’s 2007 championship club, Cora was hired in November to take over a Red Sox team that won back-to-back AL East titles in 2016-17 but failed to advance in the post-season under John Farrell.
Cora guided the team to a franchise-record 108 regular-season victories in 2018 and its fourth World Series title in 15 years. The Red Sox beat a pair of 100-win teams in the Yankees and Astros in the AL playoffs, then defeated the Dodgers in a five-game World Series to make Cora the first Puerto Rican manager to win a championship and the fifth manager to guide a team to a title in his first season.
He was rewarded by president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski with a new contract adding an extra guaranteed season in 2021, a deal that included a club option for 2022.
Boston Red Sox’s high-tech method for stealing signs from Yankees
Dombrowski was fired in September after the Red Sox stumbled toward an 84-78 record and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2015. He was replaced this off-season by former Tampa Bay Rays executive Chaim Bloom, who will lead the search for a new manager.
“This is a sad day for us,” Henry, Werner and Kennedy said in a statement. “Alex is a special person and a beloved member of the Red Sox. We are grateful for his impact on our franchise. We will miss his passion, his energy and his significant contributions to the communities of New England and Puerto Rico.”
The scandal — but not the severity of the punishment _ is reminiscent of the New England Patriots’ sign-stealing scheme in 2007, in which the team videotaped opposing coaches to decipher their signals. The NFL fined the Patriots $250,000 and docked them a first-round draft pick, and also fined coach Bill Belichick $500,000.
Cora’s departure means 10 of the 30 MLB teams will start the 2020 season with a new manager.
© 2020 The Canadian Press
Hall of Famer Mike Bossy reveals lung cancer battle – Toronto Sun
Hockey Hall of Famer Mike Bossy has been diagnosed with lung cancer.
Bossy, 64, announced his illness on Tuesday in an open letter in French on TVA Sports’ website. He is stepping away from his analyst job at TVA Sports, with whom he has worked since 2015.
“Today it is with sadness that I must retire from your screens for a mandatory break,” Bossy wrote in French. “A necessary break during which I will have to receive treatment for lung cancer.
“I can tell you that I intend to fight with the determination and the enthusiasm that you have seen me display on the ice and in my game. That same determination that helped me achieve my dreams and my goals, the one that propelled me to the top of my sport, when I still put on my skates.”
The NHL acknowledged Bossy’s battle on its publc relations account on Twitter: “The @NHL family is with you, Mike Bossy.”
A four-time Stanley Cup winner with the New York Islanders (1980-83), Bossy recorded 1,126 points (573 goals, 553 assists) in 752 career games. The eight-time All-Star spent his entire 10-season NHL career with the Islanders.
Bossy won the 1978 Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL rookie of the year, and the 1982 Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player of the playoffs. He also was a three-time Lady Byng Memorial Trophy recipient (1982-83, 1983-84, 1985-86).
A chronic back injury forced Bossy to retire following the 1986-87 season. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1991.
“The battle I am about to wage will not be easy,” Bossy wrote. “Know that I will give my 100 percent, nothing less, with the objective of meeting you again soon, after a very eventful hockey game. You will never be very far in my thoughts. On the contrary, you will occupy a privileged place and you will be one of my motivations to get better.”
Raptors Notes: Boucher, Roster, Nurse, Tax – hoopsrumors.com
After missing the entire preseason due to a dislocated finger, Raptors big man Chris Boucher has been cleared to return for the team’s regular season opener, writes Lori Ewing of The Canadian Press (link via The Toronto Star).
Boucher had a breakout year in 2020/21, averaging 13.6 PPG, 6.7 RPG, and 1.9 BPG in 60 games (24.2 MPG). He’s expected to once again play a regular role in the Raptors’ frontcourt this season before becoming eligible for unrestricted free agency in 2022.
“My whole career, my whole time in Toronto, nothing has been promised … I had to work for everything, I see it the same way this year,” Boucher said of his mindset in a contract year, per Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca (Twitter link). “… At the end of the day I gotta be consistent, that’s the one remaining thing I gotta focus on.”
Here’s more on the Raptors:
- Toronto’s roster, which is heavy on long, versatile forwards, is unlikely any group the franchise has put together in its 27 years of existence, opines Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. As Smith observes, 11 of the Raptors’ 15 players on standard contracts have listed heights of at least 6’7″, but none are taller than 6’9″.
- Having lost veteran leaders like Kawhi Leonard, Kyle Lowry, and Marc Gasol in recent years, head coach Nick Nurse will be tasked with leading a less experienced group this season, Smith writes for The Toronto Star. While Nurse adjusts his style to accommodate the new-look roster, Fred VanVleet says he’s helping the newcomers adapt to Nurse’s outside-the-box approach to coaching. “He’s a little weird at times, but he won us a championship, so he knows what he’s doing,” VanVleet said.
- Following the Raptors’ roster cuts on the weekend, Blake Murphy of Sportsnet.ca took an in-depth look at the team’s cap and tax situation and which recently-waived players are – or aren’t – expected to play in the G League with the Raptors 905. Toronto’s team salary is currently above the luxury tax line, but the club still has the flexibility to duck below that line after pushing back the salary guarantee dates for Sam Dekker and Isaac Bonga.
Raptors reveal starting lineup for season opener vs. Wizards – Yahoo Canada Sports
After weeks of speculation, we finally know who Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse is using in his starting lineup — at least to start the season.
The Raptors announced Fred VanVleet, Goran Dragic, Scottie Barnes, OG Anunoby and Precious Achiuwa as their starting five for Wednesday’s season-opening game against the Washington Wizards at Scotiabank Arena. It’s not the most surprising lineup, with Dragic beating out Gary Trent Jr. and Achiuwa earning the nod over fellow big men Khem Birch and Chris Boucher.
The frontcourt doesn’t possess much size, but Barnes, Anunoby and Achiuwa are all long players with plenty of athleticism to boot. That should make for a strong defensive unit, even without a traditional centre.
In VanVleet and Dragic, the Raptors feature a veteran backcourt that can facilitate for teammates and knock down the three-point shot with consistency.
Whether this five-man unit will be the norm going forward or if Toronto will adapt game-to-game based on matchups remains to be seen.
Nurse said he plans to use nine or 10 players in his rotation on opening night, meaning Birch, Trent, Boucher, and Svi Mykhailiuk should all see minutes off the bench.
Boucher was questionable after missing the entire preseason with a dislocated finger, but Nurse confirmed he was available against the Wizards.
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