By Nathan Tucker
This week, the Los Angeles Dodgers captured their first World Series title since 1988. However, what happened afterward has been a bigger story than the team’s first championship in over 30 years.
Dodgers third baseman, Justin Turner, was taken out of the game, unexpectedly, in the eighth inning of their championship-clinching game. Edwin Ríos entered as a defensive replacement at Turner’s position at third base.
He spent the remainder of the game isolated in a clubhouse doctor’s office, according to Dodgers president of baseball operations, Andrew Friedman. MLB said it found out about the result in the seventh inning, leading to Turner’s removal from the game.
After the game, news broke that Turner had tested positive for COVID-19. He wasn’t on the field with the team as they initially celebrated, but joined the team’s celebrations about a half-hour after the game had ended.
He embraced his wife, he embraced teammates and coaches, he took pictures with the World Series trophy. Outside of the large sums of money a pro baseball player can make, these championship moments are why you play the game.
So keeping him off the field is complicated, obviously. It is very likely that Justin Turner will never experience this moment again for the rest of his MLB career, and you cannot blame him specifically for wanting to share it with his teammates and those close to him.
Major League Baseball claims that Turner “emphatically refused” to remain quarantined as his team celebrated on the field. MLB is currently “investigating” Turner’s actions, though I am not quite sure what there is to investigate.
What MLB will not say is that they allowed this to happen. They allowed Turner to return to the field, and if they were legitimately serious about their COVID-19 protocols, Turner’s celebration would have been kept in a quarantined room.
But now that there is no baseball season and no product to sell until next year, MLB has no incentive to make sure players and staff follow any COVID-related regulations. That has been a familiar pattern with businesses during this pandemic.
Since following the guidelines that could actually mitigate spread of COVID-19 does not benefit business, many, including sports leagues and organizations, are taking liberties with protocols, or just not following them at all.
You have seen it all over by now— restaurants, bars, stores—many businesses have made the choice to not care about a pandemic that has killed more Americans than the Vietnam War and World War I combined.
A bar or restaurant can put up all the “please stay six feet apart” signs all they want, but safety measures and precautions against the spread of COVID-19 only mean anything if they are being enforced or followed.
Without businesses following these very important guidelines, people do as they please. Those who take the virus seriously will continue to take it seriously without guidelines, but those that do not contribute to a greater spread of the virus that they are unaware of/intentionally ignorant to.
Justin Turner, like many normal people, just did what he wanted to do, and since none of MLB’s quarantine protocols were followed, he put his team and those he is close to at risk.