Dodgers title celebration tainted by Turner


Courtesy of @dodgers on Twitter

The Dodgers won the MLB World Series after a strong performance from their bullpen in the final game.

Jackson Rudoff, Copy Editor

On Oct. 27, 2020, the Los Angeles Dodgers, after nearly a decade of so-close-yet-so-far playoff appearances, finally captured their seventh World Series title. After being stifled by Tampa Bay Rays’ ace Blake Snell for 5 1/3 innings, Rays’ manager Kevin Cash made the puzzling decision to pull Snell after he gave up a bloop single. It all snowballed from there, as the Dodgers immediately capitalized upon a subpar appearance by reliever Nick Anderson. 

Although the Dodgers only scored three, it was more than enough—as their bullpen shut things down—to secure their first championship since 1988. Calling this achievement satisfying would be an understatement, as the Dodgers infamously fell short in either the World Series or the National League Championship Series three out of the last four years. Their previous disappointment was only compounded by the revelation that the Houston Astros were engaged in an elaborate trash can-based sign-stealing effort. These factors combined made the Dodgers somewhat of a sympathetic team, despite their deus ex machina lineup made possible by deep pockets. 

But 2020, of course, couldn’t resist surprising us and quickly tearing things down. In a year where baseball has become a game of heroes and villains, tragedy can ensue suddenly, and without prejudice. 

Enter Justin Turner, who, in the span of a few hours, managed to completely shift the narrative of the Dodgers’ victory. 

Surveillance testing has been a feature of the MLB playoff bubble, and players were typically aware of results prior to games. An inconclusive result meant that Turner could take the field, but he was eventually pulled after his results came back positive in the eighth inning. Word eventually spread (no pun intended) as to why Turner was out. 

So when the Dodgers did their victory march around the field, why was Turner out there with them? More importantly, why was Turner pictured maskless, hugging players, kissing his wife and sitting directly next to the Dodgers’ manager, Dave Roberts, a recent cancer survivor?

Almost instantly, Turner seemingly did the impossible: He introduced yet another asterisk to a team’s moment of greatness. In this case, at least, it didn’t disparage the quality of their win. What it did do, though, is provide a fitting end for the season, one demonstrative of just how fragile coronavirus precautions are. It only takes one person to make a situation unsafe, and Turner’s romp around the field will likely go down in history as live footage of a super-spreader event.

Blame should also be assigned to officials at the field, however. When asked about how he was able to easily violate the pre-arranged quarantine measures, a source indicated that Turner simply refused to comply after they won. How exactly he was able to easily defy security is unclear, but it probably amounted to him saying “I’d prefer not to” and taking the field unobstructed.

The MLB announced that it is investigating the situation, yet that feels like too little, too late. Turner’s damage has already been done, and regardless of how many people test positive in the next few days, he’s cast a shadow over a moment of glory. His behavior is exactly the opposite of the image that the MLB was hoping to set for the public. And without swift discipline, this stunt will likely reinforce the poor precedent for safety that Americans have already established.

Just as the Dodgers came so close to a title in previous years, the MLB saw the optics of its measures fall apart within the last hours of the season. It’s unfortunate, but appropriate, given the circumstances of this year as a whole.