Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner was pulled before the eighth inning during Game 6 of the World Series on Tuesday night. No explanation was given from the broadcast team of Joe Buck and John Smoltz and, to even the most casual baseball fan, the move was odd.
The answer came moments after Los Angeles won, 3-1, clinching its first World Series victory in 32 years. Fox Sports studio host Kevin Burkhardt started the postgame broadcast with the following news: “After the completion of the game tonight, we were informed by Major League Baseball that Justin Turner received a positive COVID test. That’s why he was removed from the game.”
When MLB commissioner Rob Manfred was asked about it during the postgame presentations, he said that they had learned during the game that Turner tested positive and “he was immediately isolated to prevent the spread.” Later, ESPN’s Jeff Passan chimed in with more.
This leaves a whole lot out, though! Why is MLB not getting testing results until the second inning? Shouldn’t it get those before the game? Why are the samples from today not arriving until after the baseball game started? Is this why so many Dodgers players had masks on during their on-field celebration? And, again, why are you not getting results until the second inning of Game 6 of the World Series?
ESPN’s Kenny Mayne asked Dodgers center fielder Cody Bellinger about it in a postgame interview on SportsCenter; Bellinger said he had no idea Turner was out until the ninth inning, saying, “It shocked me.”
“It’s so annoying he’s not out here with us. He deserves to be out here with us,” Bellinger told Mayne. During his SportsCenter appearance, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts was cryptic about Turner: “It will come out later, but right now I really can’t speak to it.” Turner chimed in on Twitter, saying he felt “great” with no symptoms, and felt bad that he couldn’t enjoy the victory with his teammates.
But a few minutes later, there he was on the field. With the World Series over, MLB and the Dodgers abandoned any pretense of protocol, as if they believed that the coronavirus had vanished following the conclusion of the season. The players who were in the same dugout as Turner for most of the game were hugging family members and each other; Turner was allowed back on the field to hang out with teammates. The Dodgers gathered for a team photo and Turner sat next to the trophy, making sure to pull down his mask for the picture.
Even in the scenario where Turner’s test turns out to be a false positive, it’s wildly irresponsible to let him be this close to not just his teammates, but everyone else who has to be on the field for the festivities. But there are no more games in danger of being canceled or postponed, so MLB doesn’t have to care. It can treat a positive test in the middle of the World Series as a rapidly developing situation and let everyone else figure it out in the offseason.
Update (1:39 a.m. ET): Ken Rosenthal reported on Fox Sports that Turner “tested positive yesterday. They got those results back this afternoon. Ran the tests from today, came back positive again. This is not a case of a false positive.”
Rosenthal then clarified the timeline of the first test result but reiterated that he was reporting the test result was positive.
Update (3:11 a.m. ET): Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman was asked about why Turner was on the field after the game ended. Here is the answer he gave, via the Los Angeles Times:
“I think for him, being a free agent, not knowing exactly how the future is gonna play out, I don’t think anyone that was gonna stop him from going [onto the field],” Friedman said. “From my perspective, I think he was mindful of other people.
“This is something we’re gonna wrap our arms around tonight and in the morning and figure out where we’re going from here. It was a really unfortunate end point of this incredible series and definitely affected some of the joy from winning because of how much JT has meant to us and him not being able to be on the field for that final out, with everything he’s done for this organization.
“We’re gonna all take tests and figure out what the results are from that and go from there.”
Friedman had this to say about what was coming next for the Dodgers.