El Profe: Álex Cora, the manager we deserve

The Yankees and Red Sox are starting another playoff series, and I am conflicted.

Yes, I am a lifelong Yankees fan. But in Álex Cora, the Red Sox have the manager I always dreamed my Yankees would one day have.

The Yankees are part of my baseball DNA.

My parents were Yankees fans, as were my abuelitas.

As a Puerto Rican born at a Bronx hospital on the Grand Concourse, I was raised a Yankees fan.

When my family moved to Florida it was to a section of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., that was less than two miles from what we called “Little Yankee Stadium.”

From Ed Figueroa winning 20 games to Bernie Williams and Jorge Posada smacking postseason home runs, there is a Puerto Rican bent to my Yankee fandom.

Then there is learning that Reggie Jackson’s grandmother was Puerto Rican, that there was where the Martinez came from in Reginald Martinez Jackson.

But now I am conflicted.

The Red Sox have the type of manager I always dreamed the Yankees would one day hire – someone who possessed baseball smarts and was perhaps even college-educated.

A guy who came with a resume that highlighted experience working with Latinos and thus could relate to and potentially maximize the Latino Baby Bombers such as Luis Severino and Gary Sánchez and rookies like Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar.

Cora fills all those boxes.

The Yankees decided to let Joe Girardi go too late to pursue Cora.

Instead it was the Red Sox who came to terms with Cora right after the Astros bounced the Yankees out of last year’s playoffs.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman went through an interview process that landed a manager who hadn’t even applied for the job.

Cashman literally got his man when he hired Aaron Boone.

Boone has a different resume than Cora when it comes to being a manager.

Both come from baseball families. Cora has his older brother Joey, who played and continues to work as a coach in the game. He is currently with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Boone comes from a baseball family that is multigenerational in Major League Baseball as the grandson of Ray Boone and son of Bob Boone.

Boone also had his shining moment as a Yankee in 2003. One for which Boston fans un-affectionately dub him Aaron “Frickin’” Boone, who replaced an earlier generation’s Bucky “Frickin’” Dent.

While neither had previous managerial experience at the big league level, Cora did have experience that Boone did not.

Cora had managed the Caguas team in the Puerto Rican league (2014-2015) and worked as Caguas’ general manager when the team won the 2017 league title. He then led them to the Caribbean World Series championship.

He also had been the architect of the Puerto Rican national team that went to the finals of 2017 World Baseball Classic.

As a Puerto Rican, I was quite proud of Cora for those accomplishments.

Seeing him in a Red Sox uniform in the opposing team dugout during the Division Series once again pitted my baseball fandom versus my Latino baseball historian side.

What was I to do when I saw Cora having a quiet moment alone at the 2017 Winter Meetings in Orlando?

Of course, I had to go up and tell him that as a Puerto Rican, congratulations on getting a managerial post and good luck.

I want Cora to succeed, so other Puerto Ricans and Latinos get a shot at managing. To show the baseball world we are more than capable of leadership, of managing in an analytical baseball world.

But not really against my Yankees.

Man, I wished my Yankees had him.

Featured Image: Billie Weiss / Boston Red Sox