The MLB season was cut short Tuesday night with a Dodgers World Series victory and a strong reminder of how ridiculous this season was from top to bottom. After several teams struggled to stem Covid outbreaks throughout the year – leading to positive tests and changing schedules – Dodgers slugger Justin Turner was pulled midway through crucial game 6 after testing positive for the virus.
The lab that ran the test Turner took on Monday reported that it came back as unclear during the second inning of Game 6. The lab then ran the rest Turner took earlier that day, and that was positive, according to ESPN̵
There was only one problem: after the Dodgers won Game 6 to claim their first World Cup since 1988, Turner was back on the field celebrating with his teammates and coaches.
Not only did Turner fail to protect his teammates after knowing he was Covid-positive, but he sat down next to Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, a cancer survivor who sought medical attention before the start of the season to determine if he had higher risk given his history.
Team doctors told Roberts he was not at increased risk because of his history of Hodgkin’s lymphoma, but the CDC notes that cancer survivors are at increased risk from Covid-19 and have special pages on their website that provide increased guidelines for survivors, including stricter social distancing measures – which Turner clearly violated in the picture above.
Turner tweeted this statement after the game:
Thanks to everyone who reaches out! I’m fine, no symptoms at all. Just experienced every emotion you could possibly imagine. Can’t believe I could not be out there celebrating with my guys! So proud of this team and incredibly happy for the city of LA #WorldSeriesChamps
– Justin Turner (@ redturn2) October 28, 2020
It is important not to transfer all the blame in this situation to Turner. Returning to the field without a mask is obviously not just ruthless and stupid, but it should never have been allowed in the first place. The fact that neither the Dodgers nor the MLB had a system to prevent Turner from taking the field and putting his teammates in danger and anyone he came in contact with is simply ridiculous.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said “it’s a bittersweet night for us”, confirming the events surrounding Game 6.
“We learned during the game that Justin tested positive,” Manfred said. “He was immediately isolated to prevent proliferation.”
While Turner played third base, it was considered too much of a risk, but it was not to get him to return to the field without a mask and without protocols in place. In addition, it is unclear why it took so long for Dodgers and Turner to get its test results, and why there were no stricter measures in place to protect the players.
Turner still played the vast majority of the last game in the World Series with Covid and possibly infected those around him still allowed to celebrate in close proximity with teammates after the fact, without any way to be stopped.
This also happened:
Teammate Mookie Betts defended Turner, who returned to the field, and gave his opinion that Turner belonged.
“He’s part of the team,” Betts said. “Forget all that, he is part of the team. We do not exclude him from anything. ”
There is no doubt that this was an incredibly difficult situation. Players are waiting their lives to win a world series and it would have been devastating that they could not celebrate because of Covid. Do you know what? We have all had to endure devastating scenarios because of this virus. Birthdays missed, dear ones we have not been able to see. Some people have not been able to attend exams and weddings and funerals – all life events that are as important to humans as a World Series are to a baseball player. But we did it because it was the right thing to do.
It’s not entirely Justin Turner’s fault that he returned to the field with Covid. People make bad decisions, especially when it comes to snap choices about missing out on an event they’ve been waiting their lives for. It is the responsibility of the Dodgers and Major League Baseball to step in and prove when it matters most that safety was more important than the sport. They did not. They failed, and hopefully the lack of protocol will not lead to more players testing positive or putting more people at risk.
In the end, MLB got what it wanted: For everyone to forget the virus and just play ball. Now they want to wash their hands of the situation and move on, even if those exposed to Covid as a result of their negligence do not want the same luxury.