Last night on the MLB Network they ran their MLB Network Presents series Alex Cora: The Making of a Champion. It was an in depth and poignant piece on our manager, a tremendous watch. The story starts and ends from his home town of Caguas Puerto Rico, from his childhood straight through to his current place as the first Big League manager from Puerto Rico. Oh, and through that incredible Red Sox season in 2018. Here are some highlights:
Heartbreak at home
Is pain a friend of yours? Have you suffered heartbreak and loss? Alex Cora is shoulder to shoulder with you. Several times he speaks about losing his Father when he was 13 years old, and how that has shaped him. Seeing him well up while talking about looking at the family seats in Dodger Stadium during the World Series and wishing his Dad was there is tough.
On the other hand: Seeing him handing out supplies in Caguas at the beginning of the story, then celebrating with the World Series trophy at the end, is incredibly uplifting. His love for his homeland is so familiar to our love for our cities and towns here in New England. There’s a fierce loyalty that speaks the same language.
And the family bond is a beautiful thing. I mean who wouldn’t want a Mother like this:
Or a Brother like this:
What He Took From The Astros
Cora talks about the teamwork throughout all departments in the Houston organization as a valuable lesson. And of course the analytics that he learned as well. But it was something that he was aloud to do, not necessarily told to do, that unlocked things for him.
He talks about AJ Hinch letting him be close to the players. Carlos Beltran is one of Alex’s good friends, and it appears he uses that relationship as a basis for being close with all the players. Tom Verducci, who is excellent as the interviewer, mentions that it is almost taboo for the manager to be close to the players in the Majors. So he asks Cora more about his philosophy on this topic. Here is Alex Cora’s response:
“So I was like, you know what? Why not? Why not be close to them (the players)? At the end of the day they know that there’s (going) to be tough decisions – Hanley Ramirez – but at the same time they understand that we can be close. But there’s some respect. I respect them as players, that’s the most important thing. And then obviously they respect me as a manager.”Alex Cora on having close relationships with his ball players
It is these relationships that allow Cora to be such an exceptional manager. Yes, he has the 14 year big league career, and the analytics and incredible baseball knowledge. But the trust he engenders from the players allow him to have such incredible buy in from stubborn players like Mookie Betts, and change things on the fly and create perfect buttons to push. And that trust grows exponentially because of those close relationships.
Of course, he learned some of that from this guy too:
The Nathan Eovaldi Moment
Words don’t do this part justice. It’s a must see. The Red Sox felt that had won game three in LA, not lost an epic heartbreaker. Alex Cora was a huge part of that.
The Red Sox Are In Great Hands
Alex Cora is already thinking about how to follow up after a once in a lifetime experience. He knows things have to be different, and lucky for him, he knows someone with a lot of experience in this area: