BOSTON (CBS) — Alex Cora had a loud confrontation with an Astros broadcaster in August, and the Red Sox didn’t know about it before hiring him as manager.
A new story by NBC Sports Boston’s Evan Drellich details the events of Aug. 31 when Cora, then the Astros’ bench coach, “cursed out” team broadcaster Geoff Blum as the team bus traveled from the airport to Minute Maid Park in Houston. The Red Sox admitted that they first heard about the incident when NBC Sports Boston reached out to them for comment.
Cora’s outburst toward Blum, also a former major league veteran, reportedly stemmed from the broadcaster asking Cora to turn the music down on the bus. He later got in a verbal confrontation with Astros manager A.J. Hinch after the bus arrived. Neither altercation became physical.
The story also says multiple sources confirmed that Cora had been drinking prior to his outburst, but notes that it is not uncommon for teams to indulge themselves on “travel days” and that there are no indications that Cora has any “issue controlling his alcohol intake.”
There is an important piece of context to the story: the incident took place when the Astros were returning home for the first time since Hurricane Harvey first hit Houston on Aug. 25. Cora was additionally stressed about his home of Puerto Rico, which would soon be ravaged by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
The confrontation will inevitably be compared to the Red Sox’ infamous incident involving David Price and NESN broadcaster Dennis Eckersley, which sparked a firestorm of media and fan reactions in the weeks following the time the story went public. But there are some key differences between Price’s actions and Cora’s with the Astros.
First, Cora’s outburst toward Blum did not stem from any on-air commentary made by the Astros analyst. Price’s anger toward Eckersley originated from comments that the baseball hall of famer made about Red Sox during a NESN broadcast. Second, Cora personally apologized to both Blum and Hinch and expressed embarrassment over his actions, something Price has not done.
Cora declined to get into specifics on the incident, but described it to NBC Sports Boston as a learning experience.
“You learn how to overcome. It happens on every team,” said Cora. “People have disagreements. Sometimes it’s about life, sometimes it’s about the game. The good thing is that you work with people that you respect, and they respect you … You move on and you learn from it and you keep getting better.”
The details of the story have some striking differences from the Price-Eckersley incident, but Drellich wonders if it’s an “omen” of how Cora could handle his managerial role in Boston. It’s also curious that the Red Sox had no knowledge of the incident before hiring Cora, but there’s no indication that it would have made a difference in his hiring. Red Sox president of baseball ops. Dave Dombrowski told NBC Sports Boston that he’s “thrilled” to have Cora aboard as manager and that managers losing their cool is nothing new to him.
That likely won’t stop the questions about the incident – and comparisons to Price – from continuing.
This story was updated with accurate information on the hurricanes in Houston and Puerto Rico.