Alex Cora’s fate with Red Sox is all-but sealed

Alan Greenwood

That gulp heard ’round New England on Monday afternoon was in reply to Major League Baseball’s heaviest hammer dropping on the Houston Astros.

Commissioner Rob Manfred announced sentences Monday for the Astros’ sign-stealing escapades in 2017 and 2018. He made Roger Goodell look like a soft-hearted creampuff. Houston manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow were suspended for one season. The team was fined $5 million. MLB docked the Astros two first- and second-round draft picks.

One gasp later, Hinch and Luhnow were fired.

Alex Cora should be drenched in sweat.

Manfred said Cora devised the sign-stealing system the Astros employed in their 2017 championship run and beyond. Cora, of course, is the link between the 2017 Astros, for whom he served as bench coach, and the 2018 World Series champion Red Sox, who managed that club.

As of Monday afternoon, he remained the manager of Boston’s nine as MLB continues investigating charges that the Red Sox used electronic means to steal signs in 2018. If he owns a home in greater Boston, check this morning’s real estate listings to see if it is on the market.

It is beyond reason to believe that owner John Henry is anything less than livid. The Red Sox becoming entangled in such a mess slaps a coat of mud on everything Henry has tried to instill in the franchise since 2002. Clearly he is a man who cares about his legacy as well as his investment.

Showing the Astros mercy was not an option for Manfred. If the dots are inarguably connected, he won’t be able to be soft on Cora.

Let office pools on the next manager of the Red Sox begin.

HOW ABOUT AN OLD-FASHIONED FIRING: In other job security news, Bill O’Brien is still coach of the Houston Texans.

Feel free to be amazed.

His firing on the tarmac of the Kansas City airport Sunday evening would have been seen as justifiable by the football-watching nation.

Not that the coach should absorb all the responsibility for his team losing a 24-0 lead in the space of one quarter. But any time a team leads 24-0 after one and trails 28-24 at the half someone has to take the hit.

And the guy on the Texans sideline wearing the headset and the bewildered expression is the default target. The coach is always the default target, unless a player displays such complete and obvious incompetence that the blown opportunity can be dropped at his cleats.

Conversely, if Patrick Mahomes is not the best quarterback on the planet at this hour someone needs to step up and make an overwhelming dissent.

TIME TRAVEL: Jan. 14, 1955 – “A third-period 20-point barrage gave Nashua Junior High a decisive 42-36 victory over the Milford High frosh cagers yesterday afternoon at the Milford gym.

“After finishing the half on the short end of a 17-14 score, the Juniors, paced by Bud Tipping’s 13 points, outscored the losers 20-8, which proved to be the game-deciding factor.

“… Tipping was outstanding with his left hook shot and piled up 17 points to cop high-scoring honors and Hambleton and Mills shared runner-up honors with 12 apiece.”

If Hambleton and Mills were playing these days and their first names weren’t submitted with the game report, the emails would fly.

Alan Greenwood can be reached at 594-1248, agreenwood @nashuatelegraph.com or @Telegraph_ AlanG.