MLB: Boston Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays

CORA

ALEX CORA is scheduled to be available to the media before Thursday night’s Boston Baseball Writers’ dinner.

According to a release sent out by the club early Monday afternoon, he will be part of the Sox Winter Weekend at the MGM in Springfield this weekend.

A question: Will Cora still be the Boston manager for either or both events?

Another question: SHOULD he be?

In a word … NO.

Cora, labeled by MLB as the ringleader in the 2017 Astros cheating, was not punished Monday, but the commissioner said that will come after the investigation into the 2018 Red Sox is complete.

A.J. Hinch and Houston general manager Jeff Luhnow were suspended by MLB for a year, the Astros losing their next two first- and second-round draft choices plus $5 million, the maximum allowed by the rules. Hours later, Houston owner Jim Crane did the right thing and canned both team leaders.

Cora, the Houston bench coach for the ’17 title, moved on to Boston in 2018 and the Sox, already warned for the Apple Watch mess, allegedly cheated again. Cora is the only person involved with both schemes.

According to the report, Hinch smashed two TV monitors but did nothing to stop what his players were doing — apparently under Cora’s leadership, from what we’re reading.

Carlos Beltran, an Astros player in ’17 and now the Mets manager, was not punished, perhaps because Beltran had appeal rights through the Players Association.

The Dodgers lost to the Astros in the 2017 World Series and to the Red Sox in the 2018 Fall Classic. Obviously, the winning teams will not lose their titles, which means the Dodgers have still not ended their World Series drought that dates back to 1988. That can’t be fixed.

But the Astros and Red Sox titles from those years are tainted, Hinch and Luhnow are gone. Cora should go next. You have to think the already-fired Dave Dombrowski will be hit with some kind of penalty that will keep him from returning to the game in 2020.

The Red Sox come next. And you have to think there’s more from other teams.

Tek time

If Cora is fired, who replaces him? Bench coach Ron Roenicke comes to mind and he is a former major league manager. But he was also the bench coach under Cora while the alleged cheating was taking place, so doesn’t he get painted with the cheating brush?

How about Jason Varitek?

While it’s true Tek has never managed, that can’t rule him out. Aaron Boone went from having never managed to becoming the first skipper ever to win 100 games in each of the first two years. Varitek is a baseball-savvy guy and you KNOW he will be good for whatever is left of the pitching staff.

Varitek has worked with the catchers and generally been around since retiring. Whether or not he wants to manage isn’t known — and I’m not sure he’d be comfortable with the daily pre- and post-game media chats that go with the job. But he would be very popular and he’d be inheriting a good team, regardless of what moves are made to save money.

Confusing talk

Anyone out there old enough to remember will recall the late, great professor Irwin Corey and his ability to smash the language with double talk. Youngsters, go to the Google. The man was a riot.

I met him once at WRKO Radio as he was coming off the Jerry Williams Show and I was waiting to do SportsCall. Here’s how it went.

Me: “Professor, I’m Mike Shalin. I’ve been a big fan of yours for many years.”

Him, without batting an eyelash: “You were a lot YOUNGER then.”

That was Corey, known as “The World’s Foremost Authority,” who died at 97 in 2017.

The reason I bring this up is in relation to John Henry’s crazy email to Dan Shaughnessy of The Boston Globe that had to leave Red Sox fans even closer to confusion than before. Shaughnessy sought an answer from management and Henry took shots at the writer but answered the question sent to him by Shaughnessy. Sort of.

“This focus on CBT (the tax) resides with the media far more than it does within the Sox,” Henry wrote. “I think every team probably wants to reset at least once every three years — that’s sort of been the history — but just this week . . . I reminded baseball ops that we are focused on competitiveness over the next 5 years over and above resetting, to which they said, ‘That’s exactly how we’ve been approaching it.’”

OK, so get under the $208 million, right?

“You seem to think Chaim (Bloom) was brought in to reduce payroll. That has simply not been the way FSG operates here or across the pond. We try to act responsibly so as to be consistently competitive. Your main point seems to be that I accidentally disclosed a secret plan, but unlike you, I am honest about Sox issues. The question was asked and I answered it.’’

So, don’t get under the $208 million but GET under the $208 million.

Thanks, professor.

Josh staying?

With the Browns settling on Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski, the open NFL jobs are filled and it appears Josh McDaniels isn’t going anywhere — unless you think Minnesota and/or Houston fire their coaches after playoff losses (and Bill O’Brien’s coaching boo-boos while blowing a 24-0 lead).

Why didn’t McDaniels get a job on this non-Rooney Rule sweep through the league? Could it have been teams are leery after he stiffed the Colts? Could it be teams are expecting him to still be the coach-in-waiting for the eventual Bill Belichick retirement?

Did Belichick keep McDaniels from the Giants job, instead pushing Joe Judge, who got the job? More mystery out of the home of NFL mysteries.

Now, we know the Pats’ owner will be there. We think the coach and offensive coordinator will still be there. And we have no idea whether the GOAT quarterback will be there.

McDaniels, an Ohio native, spent several hours talking with the Browns last Friday. There had been reports for weeks he was already assembling a staff, thinking he’d be coaching somewhere. Now, he’s still in Foxborough.

Big comeback

We give you Kyrie Irving’s Nets comeback on Sunday from a right shoulder injury:

Twenty minutes; 10-of-11 from the floor, 1-of-1 on 3-pointers, four rebounds, three assists, 21 points and a plus-22 in a win over the Hawks.

Remember, this season is a pre-show for the Nets, who will get Kevin Durant back for next season. Still, with all the negatives surrounding Irving — and his emotional state — it has to be good for them to have him on the court.

Finally, you have to love the NBA schedule. The Celtics’ three-game homestand against the “powerful” Pelicans, Pistons and Bulls — after which the Celts have to go to Milwaukee for a Thursday back-to-back. I still don’t know why the NBA forces teams to play two games in two cities in two nights.

Hey, there was a time where you played three games in three nights in three cities.

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Mike Shalin covers Boston pro sports for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email address is shalinmike@yahoo.com. Follow him on Twitter @mscotshay.