While hindsight is always 20/20, video from a postgame press conference that Red Sox manager Alex Cora gave this past season has left some wondering whether we should have seen the news about coming all along.
Back in June 2019, after a weekend where Cora's Red Sox gave up 29 runs over two games to the Yankees during their London series, the Boston manager sat down in front of the media and tried to diagnose what exactly went wrong over those 18 innings. He was complimentary toward the opposing team, calling them "a good offensive team," "a lot better than last year," and calling their attention to detail "phenomenal." But then, seemingly out of nowhere, Cora brought up a joke he was telling someone about the Yankees' personnel.
"I was joking with someone that [the Yankees'] biggest free agent acquisition was Carlos Beltran," Cora said, before giving one of the most conspicuous winks possible. "I know how it works, you know? He's helping a lot. They're paying attention to details and we have to clean our details."
Here's the full press conference:
Shortly after that, Cora gave another unprompted comment, as if he was trying to backtrack from something he said earlier. (Emphasis my own).
"It was eye-opening the last few days, from top to bottom," he said. "And I'm not saying devices and all that stuff, it's just stuff that the game will dictate and will scream at people and is right there. Throughout the evening, I was looking and I saw it, you know? And right now they're a lot better than us, so we need to get better."
It's worth noting that no evidence has been presented that any sort of illegal actions took place during the London series, and it's especially worth noting that these comments were brushed off as jokes at the time they were told. The New York Post, for example, framed it as the Red Sox manager giving high praise to a Yankees staff member, and sports writer John Harper provided context for why Beltran's talents were so useful to New York -- Harper did call Cora's comments "very intriguing," for what it's worth.
To be clear, Cora wasn't accusing Yanks of anything out-of-bounds. He was praising their intel, having coached w/Astros when Beltran played there. Beltran always known for his ability to detect pitches being tipped one way or another. Faulted Red Sox for not being more careful.— John Harper (@NYNJHarper) June 30, 2019
However, none of this changes the fact that seven months later,in commissioner Rob Manfred's nine-page report on the investigation into Houston electronically stealing signs, and later , citing a desire to not be a distraction for the team in 2020.