How the partnership between Chaim Bloom and Alex Cora helped the Red Sox achieve the ALCS – The Boston Globe

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Yet after Game 162 of the season, together with his staff having simply secured passage to the postseason with a comeback win over the Nationals in Washington, Blooms sense of anticipation faltered.

He used to be scrambling to turn into garments appropriate for champagne-induced annihilation. Hed had time to throw on Red Sox fitness center shorts and a T-shirt, however prior to he may placed on shoes, he used to be informed that supervisor Alex Cora sought after him available as his staff popped bottles.

Bloom, in naked ft, concept Cora simply sought after him within the clubhouse. Instead, Cora praised his secure management and presented a gesture:

We give the lineup card to who merits it: Chaim Bloom, Cora pronounced.

The clubhouse erupted as champagne sprayed. The second, which used to be broadcast via the Red Sox Twitter account, impressed pleasure and tongue-in-cheek alarm amongst staff officers.

It used to be nice, mentioned normal supervisor Brian OHalloran. [But] I used to be very involved that Chaim may contract some type of fungus. He used to be barefoot strolling across the clubhouse and I simply in fact dont suppose thats just right hygiene.

Bloom is conscious about the infamy of the instant the absurdity of his barefooted look, in addition to his fumbling with goggles as Cora extolled his virtues. How a lot grief has he gotten for the clip?

Enough, Bloom chuckled.

Eleven months ago, Chaim Bloom was reintroducing Alex Cora as the Red Sox skipper in a press conference at Fenway. Now, the pair is headed to the ALCS.
Eleven months ago, Chaim Bloom was reintroducing Alex Cora as the Red Sox skipper in a press conference at Fenway. Now, the pair is headed to the ALCS.Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox

Of course, any mild embarrassment is dwarfed by appreciation for Coras gesture and what it symbolized. Bloom made a point of whisking the lineup card to a safe, dry space before joining in the celebration, the first of three champagne volcanoes to erupt in the Red Sox clubhouse in the span of nine days.

Caught me off-guard with that one. I did not know that was going to happen, said Bloom. I think he understood what [the presentation of the lineup card] symbolized for the totality of the roster we put together, all 56 players that we used, everything that went into putting it together not just by me, but by our department. I think he got that. And it was really emotional for me that he chose to express it that way.

While the Red Sox are now preparing for the American League Championship Series, just four wins from advancing to the World Series, its been a challenging year. They matched a franchise record by using 56 players and set one by employing 33 pitchers (not counting the four position players who pitched). Their trade deadline when they added an injured All-Star (Kyle Schwarber) as well as a pair of struggling relievers (Hansel Robles and Austin Davis) was viewed as anticlimactic, not just by the public but in some corners of their clubhouse.

Then, after the Rays and Yankees zoomed past the Red Sox in August, the team was confronted with a constant scramble that at times rendered them unrecognizable over the final six weeks of the season as a result of a COVID-19 outbreak.

Leaks sprang everywhere. Patching them required cooperation between the front office and managers office, something that had to be developed on the fly.

Any time you have a first year for someone in my chair and someone in his chair working together, theres a learning process that takes place for both of us with each other. And some things you can only learn just by going through the fire, said Bloom. There were a lot of different challenges this year. I think we were able to lean on each other, to bounce things off each other, to learn from each other.

Part of the disbelief surrounding the advance to the ALCS stems from how often they teetered on the precipice but did not plummet. Balance was maintained by an unlikely breadth of contributors from inside and outside the organization.

Chaim Bloom and Alex Verdugo celebrate after the last out against the Rays.
Chaim Bloom and Alex Verdugo celebrate after the last out against the Rays.Matthew J Lee/Globe staff

The ability to keep adding players is a reflection of Blooms restless approach. His style of building has been the antithesis of that of predecessor Dave Dombrowski.

Dombrowski inherited a deep roster and added stars to serve as finishing complements to a team that steamrolled to the 2018 title; he rarely tinkered at the edges. Bloom has moved on from some of those stars while concentrating on strengthening the broader organizational structure.

Of the 56 players to appear in big league games this year, 36 were brought into the organization after Blooms hiring in October 2019. That turnover reflected Blooms mission to build depth, to see every spot on the roster as subject to upgrade.

Yet Cora is a critical part of the success of that strategy. Hes exceptional at working not just with players but also the front office. In many ways, Coras presentation of the lineup card to Bloom reflected an organizational strength that proved critical to navigating the hidden hazards of 2021.

Alex is such a partner for us, said OHalloran. It took 56 players this year For us in the front office to have a great partner like Alex who gets the big picture and knows how to balance all the things we have to balance, its huge to have that synergy throughout the organization.

The Red Sox enjoyed remarkable stability in some areas, particularly with anchors Rafael Devers, J.D. Martinez, and (save for a 10-day absence after testing positive for COVID-19) Xander Bogaerts. Moreover, the health of the rotation particularly Nate Eovaldi, Eduardo Rodriguez, Nick Pivetta, and once he returned from Tommy John surgery, Chris Sale gave the team a reliable group that provided an adequate number of competitive (and, in the case of Eovaldi, elite) innings to keep the team in games on most nights.

Yet the rest of the roster turned over in sweeping fashion. The trade deadline brought one round of changes by choice. The COVID-19 outbreak brought another by necessity.

Kyle Schwarber was the biggest trade deadline pickup for Chaim Bloom and the Red Sox.
Kyle Schwarber was the biggest trade deadline pickup for Chaim Bloom and the Red Sox.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

Yairo Muoz, Jonathan Araz, Jack Lpez, Taylor Motter, and Jos Iglesias joined the lineup at various points. Brad Peacock, Connor Seabold, and Kutter Crawford were pressed into duty as emergency starters.

The bullpen with first-half stalwarts Matt Barnes, Adam Ottavino, Hirokazu Sawamura, and Josh Taylor afflicted by injuries, COVID-19 infections, exhaustion following the workload jump from 60 to 162 games, or all of the above had to turn over, with key innings entrusted to Robles, Ryan Brasier, Phillips Valdez, Stephen Gonsalves, Raynel Espinal, and more.

The transactions came at such a furious pace that director of major league operations Mike Regan wondered if hed need to spend part of his wedding weekend in early September helping to process moves. (Bloom and other officials mandated that he tap out, with Alex Gimenez assuming greater responsibility.)

Yet the Sox did not crumble. Through a period of instability, they did not become destabilized. From the time that Kik Hernndez tested positive for COVID-19 on Aug. 27 through the end of the regular season, they went 19-14 a testament to the toughness of players who spoke often of a next man up outlook, of an organization that kept finding reinforcements, and of a manager/front office partnership that helped anchor a team through a period of chaos.

For that, Cora was happy to present Bloom with a lineup card, and Bloom was happy to receive it, even if it meant amusement at his expense on social media.

I didnt know it was being filmed. I didnt know I was going to be presented with the lineup card. I recognize, especially in retrospect, it was kind of a gross thing. But I wasnt too concerned about that at the time, said Bloom. I had a brief out-of-body experience just taking it all in. When the baseball gods give you a chance to celebrate, you should. Its a really fortunate thing every time it happens. Its the players celebration, but we get to be a part of it on the periphery and celebrate with each other a little bit. And I think itd be a shame to miss an opportunity to do that.


Alex Speier may also be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @alexspeier.

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