The hammer has been dropped on Houston Astros manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow, but there's one more MLB figure who can't exhale just yet.
MLB's announcement of discipline is absolutely replete with mentions of Red Sox manager and former Astros assistant Alex Cora, who's seemingly singled out as the only non-player force behind the rampant sign-stealing operation. Luhnow and Hinch will lose a year of their careers to suspension, but it doesn't seem like a stretch to say Cora could be in even deeper trouble.
The league's statement of discipline does not mince words here. It names Cora as a mastermind of the scheme at nearly every turn.
In fact, while Hinch and Luhnow are rightfully being punished as the high-level caretakers of the team and organization, the document goes above and beyond to name Cora as the one member of the coaching staff who took the lead on innovating the illegal methods for intercepting signs.
Of course, there's plenty of reason to suspect Cora -- he leapt to Boston following the 2017 World Series to become their manager, and the 2018 Red Sox, which he helmed, have also found themselves in the MLB's crosshairs recently for their reportedly illicit use of their video replay room during that season. An unnatural win jump year over year with largely the same roster that had flamed out in the ALDS the season prior -- and missed the playoffs entirely in 2019 -- was certainly enough to raise eyebrows across the baseball landscape.
Red Sox fans will now have to brace themselves for a possibly unparalleled punishment, and they'd better not act holier-than-thou in the aftermath. After all, it seems their manager's actions may have directly altered the course of back-to-back titles.