Say it ain't so, Alex.

We in New England are used to hearing allegations of cheating, trickery and general underhandedness. Most recently, that suspicion has been cast in the direction of Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots, who have been accused of everything from stealing their opponents' playbooks to scrambling their headsets to deflating footballs. And of course, the team is under investigation once again, suspected of illegally filming their opponents in search of a play-calling edge (against the hapless Cincinnati Bengals, no less).

Whether or not we believe the accusations, we've come to accept them as part of the Patriot Way.

Not so for the Red Sox, and especially not so for their manager, Alex Cora.

The former utility infielder was a breath of fresh air when he arrived on Landsdowne Street in 2018, replacing the distant, taciturn and ultimately ineffective John Farrell as manager.

Cora talked brightly of accountability, not just for his players but for himself. He put a premium on communication and hard work and quickly became one of Boston's most popular managers, his status cemented when the Sox brushed aside the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2018 World Series.

Now, however, Major League Baseball is investigating the young manager's involvement in not one but two sign-stealing schemes. The first accusation dates to 2017, when the 44-year-old was a bench coach with the Houston Astros. That team has been accused of stealing signs through video and relaying information to batters by banging on trash can lids, an impressive blend of new and old technology. And unquestionably illegal under major league baseball rules.

In the second instance, the Sox are accused of illegally using their video replay room in 2018 to steal signs from the opposing team. Sox batters regularly use the room to watch video of their swings in order to make in-game adjustments. It is easy -- yet still against the rules -- to also use the video to steal signals between pitchers and catchers, and then relay the information to batters in real time.

All of it is clever. And sadly, all of it diminishes and demeans the game, which belongs on the field with the players and not in a back room with pixels.

Recommended for you