Normally, the middle of January in Major League Baseball news generally consists of:
- Waiting on the last few free agents to sign
- Chasing trade rumors
- Looking at the Hall of Fame vote
- Pining for spring training to begin
Yet here we sit, halfway through the year's first month, having seen one of the bigger scandals in the sport's history turn the baseball world on its head. Yes, there's a tendency to use recency bias and think "we've never seen anything like this!"
The thing is, I'm not sure we actually have.
In the span of four days, we've seen two of the last three World Series champions part ways with their managers -- one of those also fired its general manager -- along with another high-profile team dismissing its leader before he even managed one game. That's 10 percent of MLB managers dismissed in a 72-hour span in the middle of January.
How often do you see firings like this?
In five seasons with the Astros, Hinch made the postseason four times, winning two AL pennants and one World Series. The 2019 Astros won a franchise record 107 games, one year after the 2018 Astros set a franchise record with 103 wins. Three of the four 100-win seasons in Astros history came under Hinch and those were the last three seasons.
He was fired on Jan. 13.
He was hired in December 2011, taking over a franchise staring down a rebuild. His first three seasons saw 107, 111 and 92 losses, respectively, but he was the architect behind the turnaround that helped Hinch build the resume you see above. Take note that the World Series title was the first in Astros history.
He was also fired on Jan. 13.
Not only was Cora the bench coach for the Astros when they broke their franchise-long title drought in 2017, but he won the World Series as a first-year manager with the Red Sox in 2018. That team also set the Red Sox record with 108 regular-season wins. That's a franchise that has been around since 1901.
Cora was fired Jan. 15.
Many agree it was the right move by ownership in all three cases above to cut ties. The point here is that we really haven't seen anything like this in January before and that's without getting to this next one.
Beltran was the only player named in Manfred's report on the Astros' sign-stealing operation. His named appeared because he's not a player anymore and is (was) in a position of authority.
Beltran was hired by the Mets on Nov. 1 to become their new manager. On Jan. 16, the club announced there was a mutual parting of ways. That means, yes, Beltran was hired and then fired by the Mets before ever managing one game. Believe it or not, the short tenure is not a record. Back in 2004, the Diamondbacks fired Wally Backman just four days after they hired him.
Still, this is only the second time in MLB history that an offseason managerial hire didn't make it to the regular season.
Beltran ties Backman for the fewest games managed ever by a person hired as manager at zero. There are surprisingly several men with one game of experience (a list that hilariously includes Ted Turner), though nearly all of those were interim managers. Both Beltran and Backman were hired on as full-fledged managers and didn't make it to the season.
We've had quite the historic week. Any one of these four firings would have been eyebrow-raising in mid-January in and of itself and we just got four in four days.
As noted, all of this is scandal-related. Something I thought might be a little comparable -- or worse -- was the Biogenesis scandal back in 2013. In all, 17 players were issued suspensions. That happened during the season, however, with the news breaking in August.
The dust is likely not settled. It's hard to properly put this whole scandal in perspective while we're right in the middle of it. But for now, it seems like one of the most historic and memorable January weeks we've ever seen from Major League Baseball.