Illustration by Sam Papavasiliou

Justin Turner exposes the World Series to COVID-19

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Justin Turner didn’t need to be the story in the wake of the Dodgers’ first World Series victory in 32 years. Instead here we are, wondering what sort of, if any, punishment Major League Baseball will decide to hand down to Turner after he decided to run out onto the field to celebrate with his teammates and their families after he learned he had tested positive for COVID-19. 

Putting aside my own feeling about the Dodgers as a Giants supporter, this is simply not fair to LA fans who have been waiting for this day for so long. When the Major League Baseball Players Association made the decision to work with the MLB to host the playoffs at neutral sites in a partial bubble, all players became responsible for trying to maintain that bubble. 

Turner was removed from the game at the start of the eighth inning after a previously inconclusive test result returned back as a positive. He remained in isolation until the game ended, even tweeting and acknowledging that he had COVID-19. 

Turner still returned to the field, however against MLB regulations, and hugged his teammates and their family members. He even sat down next to Dave Roberts, the Dodgers general manager, who has survived Hodgkin lymphoma in the past, to pose for a team photo with the trophy while neither of them were wearing masks.

It’s not unreasonable to expect an adult to follow guidelines they agreed to. Turner’s actions were selfish and unreasoned. It is one thing to be among teammates who you’ve been in close contact with for months, but Turner could have also exposed several people to COVID-19 who may not have even known that he tested positive. 

It’s more disappointing to see Turner take these actions after having previously served on the MLBPA executive board. Prior to the Dodgers beginning their postseason run, Turner even spoke about how responsible players were taking safety precautions and how that allowed this whole postseason to even happen. 

It is understandable that Turner wanted to celebrate with his teammates. Those guys participated in a tough season with no fans and came out on top together. Turner is an everyday player, and it would have been doubtlessly hard for him to not be on that field with his teammates. But at the end of the day, that is what every one of those guys signed up for. 

His teammates will likely support him always in this matter but Turner’s actions have cast all of baseball in a bad light. For two consecutive seasons now the attention will be placed on the MLB to see what decision they make, this time regarding any potential punishment for Turner following their investigation. 

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