Turner Diagnosis Raises Tough Questions for MLB

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What should’ve been a celebratory moment for the Los Angeles Dodgers and a show of success for MLB quickly turned sour on Tuesday. Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner tested positive for COVID-19 and had to be pulled out mid-game.

Even with the season over, it raises some tough questions for Major League Baseball.

What the Hell? What Happened?

Even after playing the season in a “bubble”, MLB faced a positive test… during the biggest game of the season.

This isn’t something that the NBA and NHL faced during their playoffs, and I’ve previously written about how MLB’s season system could jeopardize their season.

Instead, midway through the championship-clinching Game Six, the Dodgers were forced to pull Justin Turner.

Jeff Passan wrote a mini-thread about the events that led to the pulling.

How Could They Let This Happen?

Passan’s tweet states that Turner’s sample test from the previous day came back inconclusive during the second inning.

This means two things: 1. MLB was still getting tests back from the previous day by the time the game had started and was still getting them back later into the game. 2. They still let Turner continue with an inconclusive result. It wasn’t until the 8th inning that Turner was pulled from the game. They had received results from Turner’s test from that day, he had tested positive a second time. 

MLB wasn’t prepared at all for something like this. While I understand the hype around continuing the World Series as projected, they risked the safety of their own players just to move forward with the game.

How could a multi-billion dollar league neglect something like this? While, at least during the game, he likely wasn’t able to closely spread the virus on the field, what about in the clun=bhouse? Or on the bench? 

To make matters worse, Ken Rosenthal reported that Turner had tested positive twice. So this wasn’t a false positive.

But, as if the risks were bad enough during the game…

Why Did He Go Back Out There?

Even after it was almost certain that he had COVID, and even after he had gone on Twitter and tweeted about not being able to celebrate with his teammates… He just went back out there! He was out there hugging teammates and holding the World Series trophy.

Turner went out there for the team photo and took off his mask.

And he… he did this.

This is an absolute disaster. You know what could make this an even worse disaster? What happens when someone else tests positive?

What is MLB Going to do Now?

Justin Turner broke protocol. There is no question about it.

He was asked to isolate… and he just didn’t! 

I get it, it’s the World Series, once in a lifetime experience. But he just… went out?

This could be a disaster! There’s a global pandemic, for crying out loud! 

I’m not going to sit here and pretend that MLB punishes major offenses involving the World Series too severely. However, there is no way this could go unchecked. At the very least, this is a potential endangerment of lives, not to mention the fact that those are lives that provide MLB with some money.

But where do they even begin? Do they punish Justin Turner, who, at 35, and after years of heartbreak, finally won the World Series? Do they punish the Dodgers as a whole, who reportedly also insisted on Turner going back out there?

It’s just an overall disaster!

What Happens if Someone Catches it From Turner?

Here’s one of the worst-case scenarios here. What happens if someone catches it from Turner? Of course, we wouldn’t know for sure if the case was directly from Turner, but if it wasn’t, it opens a whole other Pandora’s box.

It’s not like athletes are just immune to complications from COVID-19 either. Just look at the Red Sox’s Eduardo Rodriguez. The 27-year-old is coming off of a season where he reached career-highs, he’s in the prime of his life, but after Rodriguez caught COVID, he developed myocarditis, inflammation of the heart muscle. 

Rodriguez wasn’t even expected to be able to participate in light workouts on a treadmill until mid-October. Thankfully, Rodriguez has been able to recover well and hopes to have a normal 2021 season.

However, his case shows that even an athlete in the prime of their life could develop complications that could endanger their career, or even worse, their life.

What if when an athlete, or one of the executives that celebrated with Turner, catches COVID? Who’s at fault if someone is seriously impacted by Justin Turner’s actions?

What’s up With the Parade?

After the World Series came to a close, LeBron James, arguably the most influential athlete alive, tweeted this out:

While I’m sure LeBron James didn’t have any ill intent, it does beg the question. How are the Dodgers going to celebrate their victory? While the Los Angeles Lakers haven’t had their parade yet, the Tampa Bay Lightning had a parade with fans in attendance, with some fans even getting a drink out of the Stanley Cup.

Are they really going to attempt the same thing after every player on that team has come into close contact with a teammate with COVID-19? It just sounds like a disaster waiting to happen, but I wouldn’t put it past MLB considering what’s already occurred. 

What’s Next?

The Los Angeles Dodgers will celebrate their ring, MLB will get geared up for the 2021 season, but will they just ignore this incident? MLB has said that they will conduct a full investigation, but what can they do?

Justin Turner is set to turn 36 next month, he’s going to be a free agent, he’s coming off of a championship, would suspending him really do anything?

It’s an overall disaster, I think the best Major League Baseball can do is make sure something like this cannot happen again next season.

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Featured Image Credit: FOX Sports

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Spencer White is an Editor of Hockey at Overtime Heroics. He writes about hockey, covering the Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Marlies, Newfoundland Growlers, and the Toronto Six. You can find him on Twitter at @FreeNylander, @MagicianMarner, and @LeafsMoves.