Alex Cora has been fired by the Red Sox after the team discussed his role in the Astros sign stealing scandal and the pending punishment for what the Red Sox are accused of doing in their video replay room. Astros’ GM Jeff Luhnow and Manager AJ Hinch were both suspended yesterday by MLB through the end of the 2020 World Series. Both would be fired by owner Jim Crane. What Cora did in Houston and most likely in Boston truly damaged baseball. Let us also not forget however, the Red Sox cheated in 2017 with Apple watches but basically received a slap on the wrist.
Visiting teams may now enter stadiums, especially in Houston and Boston and automatically not think to themselves, “This is going to be a tough test against a talented team.” Instead the logic will go to “Let’s do a site walk and figure out if there’s any cameras hiding out.” Teams may not actually walk the warning track, but now games will be extended even further with changing signs hoping the other team won’t pick up on them and we could see a nine inning game approach five hours.
Baseball has to understand this isn’t 1975. Players like Dwight Evans or Hank Aaron or any of the throwbacks didn’t have the technological advancements like we have in 2020. Sports have evolved technically, in the NFL for a small charge you can buy a package and watch the all-22 film from your next opponent. The NHL has iPads that are used to study during the game and analyze referee decisions. Alex Cora did something illegal, yes. He also showed us that baseball has to change with the times.
One potential option is to move the replay rooms to the media area and have an employee from MLB watch to make sure nothing funny happens. A potential option I see happening is giving the coaches, catchers and pitchers wireless communications like what you see with the NFL. By doing this you are speeding the game along and not have to worry how many touches of the cheek means to shift to the 1st base side.
TV has also done some damage as well. Watching games on NESN, TBS or ESPN, the camera is zoomed in on the catcher doing what? Giving signs and sometimes, the announcers will even call out pitches. Managers and scouts can go home, take notes and have a report on a batter or pitcher the very next day. Unfortunately, it’s not 1965. It’s 2020 and MLB has to realize this.
Baseball is at a crucial crossroad. They can keep the sacredness of the game, but with that viewership will most likely fall. MLB can also go with “door number 2” and work on wireless communications. Sports is meant to be an evolving product. The players, the games and more importantly the final product.
Alex Cora, by the book broke rules. He also gave us a talking point on how to bring the game into a new era with new fans.