If you turned off the TV, put down your phone, and went to bed after the Dodgers won their first title since 1988, you missed the drama that will forever mark this weird, neutral-site World Series, at the end of this weird, pandemic-altered baseball season, in this weird, hellish year.
Other World Series have had dramatic momentum shifts, blunderous pitching changes, and decades-long championship droughts busted. There have even been a few other Fall Classics that ended with a called third strike. But the starting third baseman and No. 3 hitter for the winning team coming out of the game because he tested positive for the deadly virus that’s jolted the entire world all year… that’s a new one.
Justin Turner, thankfully, is feeling no effects of the virus.
Unfortunately, that’s just a small part of the story, as everything that Major League Baseball did to get its season on course, after dozens of players got COVID-19 early in the summer, came crashing down with one test and the way it was handled.
As reported by ESPN’s Jeff Passan, “In the second inning [of Game 6], the lab doing COVID-19 tests informed Major League Baseball that Turner’s test from Monday came back inconclusive. Samples taken from Tuesday then arrived and were run, sources said, and they showed up positive. The league then immediately called the Dodgers and said to pull Turner.”
Turner was allowed to start Tuesday night’s game despite not having had a negative test. He then was allowed to stay in the game when his test from the day before came back inconclusive. It was only when Turner officially was coronavirus-positive that he was removed from the game.
And to think, it was only seven short months ago that New York mayor (and proof that there are still Bums from Brooklyn to this day) Bill de Blasio said, “If you love your neighborhood bar, go there now, because we don’t know what the future holds.” Bars and schools closed the next day, after a week of heated debate that looks all the stupider in hindsight, considering how much uncontrolled spread happened that week, and how many lives might have been saved by swifter action. This has been a global tragedy, a particularly national disaster of incompetence and greed, but also a very local catastrophe of leadership failure in the city where baseball commissioner Rob Manfred, who’s ultimately responsible for the gong show that this season was, has his office.
So it was, in a ballpark where 11,437 fans saw the Dodgers win the World Series (remember the whole reason for not having fans this season, and what’s been happening in Texas for the last two months?) that Justin Turner was in the lineup, on the field while awaiting full confirmation of his diagnosis, and then finally taken out of action and into quaranti—
—no, he was on the field, celebrating with teammates and holding the trophy. But at least he had a mask o—
They really put the contagious guy right in the middle of the team photo, too, next to the trophy. That’s cool, it probably works easiest that way to map out the contact tracing from patient zero.
“I didn’t touch him,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.
That’s not how this works. Roberts was right next to the guy with the virus in the team picture. Yes, the Dodgers have all been around each other all this time, but that was before there was a guy who tested positive for the virus. People who get the virus go into quarantine so they can stop spreading the virus. And even if Turner is fine, he takes off that mask, and who knows where any respiratory droplets are headed in whatever air currents there are in the domed stadium? And who knows what’s floating around in that extremely coronavirus diagram-looking beard of his? Which breath, or facial swerve, might plop the virus right into someone else’s lungs, for them to carry it around for a couple of days, incubating until they finally test positive back home?
If all of that seems like too much panic, like it’s overreacting and advocating that adults be barred from making their own decisions, well, if you love your neighborhood bar, go there now, because we don’t know what the future holds… right?
What we do know is that Justin Turner, infected with COVID-19, went out into the middle of the Dodgers’ team photo and took his mask down, and that he put people’s health at risk so that he could go celebrate.
At least when Rudy Gobert rubbed all those microphones in Oklahoma City, he didn’t know he had the virus, and we all didn’t know just how devastating 2020 would be.