After manager Alex Cora and the Red Sox parted ways Tuesday night, you may be reminded of what happened to Bill Belichick more than a decade ago.
Cora, the former Houston bench coach, was in the middle of the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal — his name appeared 11 times in Monday’s report issued by MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, saying he was an “active participant in the scheme” in Houston and that he “implicitly condoned the players’ conduct.”
Manfred said in the report that Cora’s punishment will be addressed after the league completes its investigation into similar cheating allegations involving the Red Sox in 2018. By thenm it might not matter.
But the punishment of a head coach sounds all too familiar to area fans.
In 2007, the Patriots were accused of filming signals of an opponent from their own sideline during a game. Belichick showed there was a path back from scandal.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft stuck with his head coach and took the hit from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell; the team was fined $250,000 and docked a first-round draft pick. In addition, Belichick was fined $500,000.
While Belichick wasn’t suspended, there was no wavering on Belichick by Kraft; in fact, Belichick got a contract extension in the midst of the chaos. And it turned out to have a galvanizing effect on the New England roster.
The 2007 Patriots used the penalties (and the ill will it produced) to forge one of the more remarkable regular seasons in NFL history. The team ended up rallying around the coach, going 16-0, and blazing a path to Super Bowl XLII. They lost that game to the New York Giants, but the run eventually led the way to three more Lombardi Trophies.
Meanwhile, the 2012 New Orleans Saints saw the opposite happen after scandal.
Head coach Sean Payton and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams were both suspended — Payton for the 2012 season, Williams indefinitely, though it was overturned — after an NFL investigation found that coaches promised players bonuses for knocking opponents out of a game. Without Payton, the 2012 Saints started 0-4 and finished 7-9, out of the playoffs.
The punishment MLB inflicted on the Astros might be more severe than both those cases.
General manager Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch were both suspended for one season; a short time later, owner Jim Crane fired them. The Astros also lost their first- and second-round picks in the next two drafts and were fined $5 million.
In 2007, Belichick quickly found he had the support of his players and ownership.
In the end, the parallels between what Belichick went through and what happened to Cora are fascinating to consider.
Follow Christopher Price @cpriceglobe.