The Boston Red Sox and their manager, Alex Cora, “mutually agreed to part ways” overnight. Cora was implicated in the Astros’ sign-stealing enterprise and it is reported that MLB investigators will reveal that the Red Sox engaged in similar activities once Cora showed up in that dugout. From the team perspective, this is a PR attempt to get out ahead of what seems to be a heap of scorn that is about to land on the franchise. Maybe it softens the blow to a degree; if so, this was a smart move.
If indeed Cora is cited as one of the instigators of the scheme in Houston and then a part of a similar enterprise in Boston, I would have to say this his managerial career has pulled into the station. I will be surprised if the Commish bans him from baseball for life – à la Pete Rose; therefore, Cora might be eligible for another managerial gig. Nevertheless, I don’t see any owner taking on that PR nightmare willingly.
With the microscope on this most recent MLB “scandal”, it can be difficult to maintain perspective. Let me ask a question:
- If you create a scale of 1 to 10 where “1” is “embarrassing but not such a big deal” and “10” is “an existential threat”, where would you put all these MLB “scandals”? (Some of these are real situations from the past and others are potential “scandals”.)
Here are my ratings …
- Doctoring the field to gain an advantage [Rating = 1]
- Players using a corked bat [Rating = 3]
- Spitballers [Rating = 3]
- Players using steroids/PEDs [Rating = 4]
- High-tech sign-stealing – as in Houston and Boston [Rating = 7]
- Eavesdropping on visitors’ clubhouse to gain strategic advantage [Rating = 8]
- Taking bribes to throw a game or a series – as in 1919. [Rating = 9]
The other breaking news this morning is the announcement by Luke Kuechly that he will retire from the NFL a few months shy of his 29th birthday. Kuechly has been in the NFL for 8 seasons; it is not as if he is “one-and-done”. However, he is still one of the best – if not the best – middle linebacker in the league; his retirement is cannot be explained by some sort of recognition that he can no longer play to the standard of his former excellence. Luke Kuechly has made a rational decision here.
If I have read correctly his contract history, Kuechly has made somewhere between $61M and $70M over his career. [Aside: The reason for the spread here is that I cannot decipher which incentives in his contracts he achieved or did not achieve.] Even after paying his taxes, he should still have sufficient funds to do whatever he wants to do with the rest of his life. Those last 11 words are the key:
- What might keep him from doing what he wants to do with the rest of his life is a permanent injury or enough brain trauma that would make the latter years of the rest of his life less than optimal.
Luke Kuechly adds to a list of very good players who have chosen to leave the NFL long before their skills diminished to the point that their teams did not want them back such as:
- Chris Borland
- Rob Gronkowski
- Andrew Luck
- Patrick Willis
Bonne chance, Luke Kuechly…
Last weekend, the Clemson basketball team beat UNC 79-76 in OT in a game played in Chapel Hill. That may not seem like a big deal at first but consider that the last time Clemson won a basketball game in Chapel Hill against UNC, it was 1926. The loss dropped the Tar Heels’ season record to 8-8 and a comment from Roy Williams after that loss prompted this comment from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times:
“Roy Williams labeled his 8-8 basketball team as ‘the least gifted team I’ve ever coached’ in his latest tenure at North Carolina.
“The Society of Those Feeling Sorry for Roy convenes at noon Wednesday in the back seat of a Kia.”
Indeed, there is little reason to shed tears for poor Roy Williams here. He can take solace in the 3 national championships that his teams have won (one championship at Kansas and the other two at UNC). Frankly, if this is indeed a team with lesser talent than normal at UNC, the burden would seem to be on Roy Williams and his assistants to coach a lot more and a lot better than they did with previously “more gifted teams”.
With regard to college basketball this year, there is not a dominant team – – or even a pair of dominant teams. Rather, there are at least a half-dozen very good teams who seem to go through cycles of excellent play and then somnambulant play. I think I have counted correctly here; there are five teams that have been ranked #1 in the country and who have been subsequently beaten by teams ranked below them:
- Michigan State
Perhaps this demonstrates the competitive balance in college basketball this year – – or perhaps is shows the minimal value of rankings early in the season…
Finally, here is another basketball observation from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times:
“The Rockets’ James Harden joined an exclusive NBA club by totaling 100 points in back-to-back games.
“Leaving him just one game shy of tying Wilt Chamberlain, who once scored 100 in one consecutive game.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………