By Dick Flavin
Boston Red Sox Poet Laureate
and New York Times Best Selling Author
R.I.P. ALEX CORA
“Isn’t it a shame about that poor Alex Cora fellow?”
“Yes, and he was so young, too.”
“At least we can take some comfort in the consoling words of our president, ‘He knew
what he was signing up for.’”
Is it too premature to offer our condolences to the new Red Sox manager?
Perhaps, but if history is any judge Alex Cora signed his own death warrant the moment
he put his signature on that contract to manage the Red Sox. These things never end
happily. It’s just a matter of time. Will it be just a year as it was for Bobby Valentine?
Will he last as long as eight years as did Terry Francona? Or will it be somewhere in the
middle as in the case of John Farrell? Whichever, his head will eventually be served up
on a platter before the blood thirsty hordes who cleverly masquerade as baseball fans.
They don’t represent all of Red Sox Nation, not by a long shot. A lot of Sox fans actually
root for the manager. They want him to do well and are willing to give him the benefit of
the doubt, at least at the outset of his journey. But even now the jackals of the talk shows
are beginning to gather somewhere out there in the darkness. Already they are circling,
unseen but ready to pounce at the slightest misstep, real or imagined.
A pitcher gets lifted too early, or, God forbid, stays in the game one batter too long, and
suddenly they charge out of the woods, fangs bared. “Hello, [insert the name of your
favorite sportstalk host here]. First time caller, long time listener.” When you hear that,
you know that what the guy means is that it’s the first time that day he’s called into that
specific talk show. I am convinced that the total number of people who call into those
shows is about fifteen. They sit around all day in their parents’ basements, in their
bathrobes and slippers, dialing up talk shows to complain, mostly about managers. When
was the last time you heard someone call in and say, “That was a heck of a game last
night. I really enjoyed it.”
I personally do not know a single person who has ever called up a sportstalk show, or at
least I don’t know anyone who admits to having done so. Do you? But those who do call
make a lot of noise, and it eventually takes a toll. For all the tumult they create, though,
Cora is best advised to ignore those talk show callers, all fifteen of ‘em.
Then there is the mainsteam media, made up of those who cover the Red Sox on a regular
basis. Cora will be subjected to media scrums before and after every game, and he’ll have
to be on top of his game, ready to describe each pitch of an at bat or where a guy was
positioned on a particular play. There is zero tolerance for slip-ups. No, “Gee, I was
calling the bullpen on that play and I didn’t see it.”
Cora will discover that most of those who cover the team are decent enough folks but
they’re under a lot of pressure too. They all have bosses back at their papers or broadcast
outlets, and those bosses are relentless in their demands for stories because the bosses
have bosses too.
Oh, let’s not forget the clubhouse. In any group of twenty-five people there are bound to
be a couple of factions plus one or two who flat out don’t like you. There’ll be a few who
don’t think you’re playing them enough and maybe a malcontent here and there. It’s your
job as manager to keep them all happy, all united. And did I mention the front office?
Managing the Red Sox is a stressful, pressure-packed job, and never, in the team’s one
hundred seventeen year history, has it ended happily ever after, with the manager riding
off heroically into the sunset. It ends with the manager being carted off feet first to the
morgue as the spectators call out in unison, “Next!”
Perhaps the best example of this ritual is the case of the second manager (Cora is number
forty-seven) in Red Sox history. His name was Chick Stahl and this is the sad story of his
Are you one of those wiseguys,
Those blowhards, those jocks
Who thinks you can manage
The Boston Red Sox?
Well, it”s not all that easy,
Oh no, not at all.
Just take, for example,
The case of Chick Stahl.
He managed the Sox
But the fact the team stunk
Put Chick in a fix.
Next year in Spring Training
They still couldn’t win.
So Chick took bold action,
He did himself in.
The boobirds that season
Would not get to Chick.
Is what did the trick.
He gulped the stuff down
And quickly expired,
The only Sox skipper
Who never got fired.
So if the job should
Become yours to fill
Before you accept it
Please make out your will.