Last night's final World Series game was an amazing moment for the Los Angeles Dodgers. It was also a stark reminder of the situation we all find ourselves in right now, with Justin Turner's midgame COVID-19 positive test.
Turner played most of last night's game. According to ESPN's Jeff Passan, a recent test done by Turner came back inconclusive after the game had already started, in the second inning. By the seventh inning, results from another test returned, showing that he had tested positive for the coronavirus.
Turner was pulled from the game in the seventh inning, after that news came out. It was obviously brutal news for the Dodgers star, but also raises serious questions about the MLB's protocols. The league had attempted to go to a bubble format in Arlington, Texas for the World Series, though it seemed more loose than what the NBA accomplished with no positive tests in Orlando for months.
As the Dodgers' celebration began, Turner was still nowhere to be found. However, as things continued, the third baseman reappeared, celebrating with his team, holding the Commissioner's Trophy, and kissing his wife. He was often not wearing a mask, despite his positive test for the deadly virus.
Now, this was obviously the biggest moment of Justin Turner's career. The former journeyman turned into a star with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and has been an instrumental piece of their run up to this World Series. It would have been really brutal if he could not share this with his team.
At the same time, we've seen that this virus is indiscriminately. There's a very good chance this winds up being a vector for his teammates and coaches, and members of the Tampa Bay Rays, as well as any league personnel and fans that they may have come into close contact with. Not all of those people are guaranteed to be in great health and easily able to overcome the virus, and we still don't know all of the long term affects that it may have. We can only hope that the worst case scenario doesn't come to pass here.
Someone had to step up and keep Turner from returning to the field, and it was a total failure by the Dodgers and MLB on that front.
Turner was asked to isolate. He did not abide. He strode onto the field, where his teammates were celebrating their 3-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 6, and joined. He removed his mask to pose for pictures with his wife, whom he kissed. He planted himself on the ground as the team gathered for a photo to commemorate the Dodgers' first championship in 32 years. To his right sat Dave Roberts, the Dodgers' manager, who 10 years ago was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma. To Turner's left, gleaming, sat the World Series trophy.
How Justin Turner made it back onto the field to join his teammates is a question that was being asked around the sport early Wednesday morning, as the Dodgers rejoiced and the images of the scene spread quickly.
One general manager texted: "A superspreader event on live TV. Welcome to 2020." A prominent player messaged: "what the f--- is going on."
The answer: Turner ignored the protocol that calls for COVID-positive players to isolate. He did this with the support of his teammates and the organization.
We can only hope that the risks that the Los Angeles Dodgers were willing to tolerate last night don't come to pass.