The Red & Black

Should Alex Cora Be Fired?

In case you missed it, there has been a major scandal sweeping across the MLB in the past few weeks as the Houston Astros had a former player come out and accuse them of using a camera to steal signs from opposing teams in the 2017 season. 

Sign stealing is actually legal in baseball as long as the teams do not use technology to help steal signs. Sign stealing helps give a team an advantage in the game because a batter will know what pitch is coming before the pitcher even throws. 

Videos have surfaced of the Astros beating a trash can to help communicate these stolen signs from one to another. The MLB is investigating this accusation and interviewing current and former players/coaches from the Astros organization. 

Red Sox manager, Alex Cora, has been mentioned in the investigation because he was the Astros assistant coach during the 2017 season before he was hired by the Red Sox. In the weeks after this accusation came out, people have called for Alex Cora to be fired for the role he played in the sign-stealing if the MLB finds he knew about it.

Others have said there is no proof that Alex Cora ever knew about the sign stealing and he should be able to keep his job since he is not associated with Houston anymore. 

Assuming that Alex Cora knew about the stealing of signs, I believe that he should not be fired, but suspended half of the next season. 

Cheating, while it is not allowed in Major League Baseball, happens no matter the steps that the MLB takes to prevent it. Whether it be performance-enhancing drugs or using a banned substance to get a better grip on the ball, almost every player tries to get a step up on the competition. 

Usually, if a player/coach is caught doing something illegal to get an unfair advantage, this player will receive a suspension and then everyone will move on. Rarely, if ever, has a player/coach been fired for being caught cheating. 

The Astros sign stealing scandal is just another one of these cheating scandals in which they were caught and now everyone associated with the team at the time should have to serve a suspension. 

There’s no reason to punish Alex Cora or anyone else too harshly for something that every team has probably tried to do at one time or another.

Interview with Coach. Carlson

I recently had the opportunity to talk to Mr. Scott Carlson on a wide range of topics from his background to the history of Nordic skiing at the school and what he wants his legacy at WHS to be. 

He is a beloved figure in the WHS community who has successfully juggled his twin roles as the Nordic ski coach and a physics teacher since 2007. Mr. Carlson came to WHS after a 19 year stint at Gloucester High School. 

He has been skiing since the 1970s and his first stint with coaching began when he started coaching his own children. It was around then that he got involved with the Bill Koch League, a ski league for small children. 

He has been coaching the Nordic ski team here at WHS since its inception almost 12 years ago. He says that he has always been one of those people who is interested in “everything about lots of different things.” 

He attributes this trait to his interest in physics - the most general of all sciences - from atoms and molecules to the whole universe and everything in between.

Do you see any parallels between Physics and Skiing?

There is stuff like friction with different kinds of waxes and the coefficients of friction. Furthermore when I was teaching people who have never skied before, you've got to show them to go one way and then the other - that's vectors. 

Those two things add up to be a straight line. I think that knowing something about forces and energy oftentimes helps me analyze what is a more efficient ski style or less efficient ski style to help people maximize their energy output and turn that into speed.

What traits do you think are crucial to success in Nordic Skiing?

In terms of our team, the biggest success criteria is basically the attitude - everybody is super supportive of each other. I was joking with the girls yesterday when I said that our secret weapon is that everybody is super positive and supportive of each other and I think that that really helps us be successful more than anything else.

How has skiing in WHS evolved over the years?

There has been a huge evolution. The very first year, which was 2010 maybe, there were three people on the team - 3 boys, that's it! The next year, there was a girl in one of my Physics classes, who enrolled and got all of her friends involved.

From then on, it grew and grew. Not long after, the younger sister of one of my boys team captain got involved in the Bill Koch league. 

As a result, she came into the program with the skillset and was a very strong skier right from her freshman year, which doesn't always happen. She also brought in a lot of her friends who were good athletes which helped build the program. We now have a chance, this season, both on the boys and the girls side, to be one of the top two strongest teams in the league.

Of course, you never know. For instance, last year, one of my best girls ended up having to leave part way through the season because she was involved in a special academic program where she was away from Winchester. I had another one of my best girls tear an ACL. Things like that are completely unpredictable.

How do you envision skiing will evolve over the next several years and what will your role be?

It's hard to predict the future but I would definitely like to continue coaching. I coach because I love the sport and I hope that I can share that love with the people that I coach, so that 20 years from now, they say, “Hey, you know what, I have always enjoyed cross country skiing and I'm going to keep doing it.” 

If I can share that or if long after I'm gone from Winchester, if there is still a tradition of that, then I will have done my job.

Also there is a real camaraderie, almost like a family, not just between our team members but also between our team and other teams. There is not this real cutthroat competitiveness. It's more like this sort of friendly competition. 

I love that about the environment here in Massachusetts and I hope to continue to share that and like I said, even after I'm gone from the program, I hope that it continues and people realize what a great sport it is.

What were your proudest and your most challenging moments as a coach?

I think that they might have both occurred in the same season, which was not last year but the year before. My proudest moment was when one of my girls went to the Eastern Qualifiers and won the race, beating out everybody in the state of Massachusetts.

However, there was a parent on one of the other teams who thought that there was no way that my girl could have beaten her daughter and accused her of cheating saying that she used illegal wax. It was a big ordeal as my girl did no such thing and it was proved accordingly. 

Everything turned out fine for her but at that time it was super challenging to deal with this unreasonable parent and all the turmoil that it caused.

Would you like to share any more pearls of wisdom with the WHS students?

A good life lesson / philosophy that I say to the team all the time is that if you have fun and can learn something so that you're better today than you were yesterday, that's about all you can ask for in life.

We are so lucky to have such a passionate and compassionate mentor like Mr. Carlson at our school and it was my pleasure to interview him and learn more about his past, present, and future.