While the 2018 World Series proved to be rather one-sided, the similarities and connections between the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers were seemingly endless.
It was the first Fall Classic in MLB history in which both respective managers had ties to each organization. Dodgers skipper Dave Roberts is forever entrenched in Red Sox lore for his infamous steal in Game 4 of the 2004 American League Championship Series that helped guide the team to an improbable comeback over the New York Yankees and eventual World Series win.
And while Alex Cora didn’t have a moment of that magnitude during his stint with the Dodgers, he did spend the first seven seasons of his 14-year career in Los Angeles.
When taking questions at his World Series press conference, Cora revealed an interesting tidbit. Prior to becoming a coach in MLB, he turned down an opportunity to join Roberts on the Dodgers’ staff.
“When the interview process took place, we talked about it and he asked me about being part of the coaching staff,” Cora said. “And I was like, ‘No, I’m good where I’m at right now,’ because of the situation with ESPN, only working 70 days a year and being able to fly back to Puerto Rico.
“My daughter, she was growing up and I wanted to be part of it. So all of a sudden he shocked the world. Nobody thought he was going to get that job, and he’s done an outstanding job.”
Cora was an analyst for ESPN from 2013-16 before accepting a position with the Houston Astros to become their bench coach the following year. Ironically enough, he was part of two different coaching staffs that defeated Roberts’ Dodgers in back-to-back World Series.
Roberts, a teammate of Cora for two and a half seasons with the Dodgers, isn’t surprised of the success he enjoyed in his first year as Red Sox manager. “First off, he loves the game of baseball,” Roberts said.
“He has a crazy passion for it. Very detail oriented. Always curious about strategies and the why. His ability to focus as a teammate to just really be able to focus for three hours, he has that ability. And lastly, connected people, was a leader, always a leader. So he checks a lot of boxes. So to see him in this position, no surprise. I couldn’t be more happy for him.
“There was a lot of talk of Alex potentially managing. And I think that that’s something, even when he was playing, he had visions of doing that or doing this. Me, not so much, but we didn’t talk about it a whole lot. But I know that Jim Tracy was our manager, and we talked about a lot of strategies. And being in this game for the long haul and just loving this game of baseball. So however that was going to play out, I was pretty certain that Alex was going to be in this chair at some point.”
In 2018, Cora led the Red Sox to an MLB-best 108 wins during the regular season. The club would add 11 more in the postseason — bringing their total to 119 on the year, which is the second-most in MLB history.