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Justin Turner’s Moment of Madness May Shape How 2020 World Series Is Remembered

October 28th, 2020 · No Comments · Baseball, Dodgers

Fans of the Los Angeles Dodgers will long remember the World Series victory of 2020; it ended 32 years of waiting since the club’s previous triumph.

However, the selfish post-game behavior of one of the team leaders may be what sticks in the minds of neutral observers, in years to come. Especially if it leads to dire results.

Justin Turner, the veteran Dodgers infielder, was removed from the game in the seventh inning during the clinching, 3-1, Game 6 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays, after he learned he had tested positive for the Covid-19 virus.

Major League Baseball and its media outlets did not immediately reveal why Turner suddenly was out of the game. It was at least 15 minutes after the game ended before we were told.

MLB said Turner’s Covid-19 test the day before was “inconclusive” and he had another test before Game 6 … and that one came back positive for the virus.

The first pandemic failure of baseball’s postseason could have been a serious complication for baseball’s World Series plan; had the Rays won, Game 7 almost certainly would have been backed up several days for additional Covid tests.

Turner was immediately ordered out of the game and instructed to stay away from teammates as he waited out the game in a doctor’s office at Globe Life Field.

However, after the Dodgers won, Turner chose to return to the field — where the celebration was going on.

He was seen hugging several teammates, sometimes without wearing the required protective mask, and he also was mask-less during a team photo — where he was sitting, front and center, flanked by Dodgers manager Dave Roberts and the club’s president, Andrew Friedman.

Not addressed was the risk to others of the Covid virus — which has killed 225,000 Americans — and it making inroads among the various happy players and staff and family members milling about the field.

Turner’s actions contravened the Covid protocols players and management had agreed upon, ahead of the postseason, regarding the proper way to avoid infection.

Today, MLB said “Turner was placed into isolation for the safety of those around him. However, following the Dodgers’ victory, it is clear that Turner chose to disregard the agreed-upon joint protocols and the instructions he was given regarding the safety and protection of others. While a desire to celebrate is understandable, Turner’s decision to leave isolation and enter the field was wrong and put everyone he came in contact with at risk. When MLB Security raised the matter of being on the field with Turner, he emphatically refused to comply.”

And why did Turner do what he did? … including “emphatically” refusing to get off the field?

We have not yet heard from him, but it seems apparent that Turner could not abide missing the celebration, the team photo and other outbursts of joy and relief.

Why? Because he felt like it. Because he could. Because what he wanted for himself was more important than the danger he represented in this time of pandemic.

His actions suggest his credentials as a team leader have been deeply compromised.

Because he is 35 and a leading voice in the clubhouse, he got to flout the rules? If it had been a younger player, or lesser player, would he have had the temerity to force his way into the celebration scene?

He bears most of the blame, but some of it should be borne by the Dodgers. Especially the authority figures Roberts and Friedman, either of whom should have directed Turner back off the field but, instead, sat next to him during the team photo. With none of the three wearing a mask.

Friedman today conceded it had been a bad idea to pose with the confirmed pandemic carrier. He used the expression “bad optics”.

MLB said today it would open an investigation of Turner’s actions. He is believed to have remained in Arlington, Texas, while the Dodgers returned to Los Angeles.

What we may never know is if he directly passed on the virus to someone, during his time on the playing field, or whether his example as a Covid rules-breaker encouraged others to take the same sort of irresponsible actions.


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