It’s been a full weekend now since the Los Angeles Dodgers COVID-19 story broke, and the crickets are fighting to see which can remain quietest about it.
So here’s where you want to know what the story is, because you likely don’t know about it either. Josh Peter and Bob Nightengale of USA Today broke the story during the late Friday dumping ground that the Los Angeles County Health Department had detected five cases of the virus among members of the champions, though it didn’t identify which employees they were or offer any theories as to how the infections occurred. It mattered, of course, because third baseman/free agent Justin Turner had tested positive before Game 6 of the World Series, was pulled from the game but was still allowed to hang around long enough to break out of the clubhouse to celebrate, mask-optional, with his teammates.
This scandal was considered so non-outrageous by MLB that the Dodgers announced that everyone tested fine the next morning and were allowed to fly home, as though the disease incubates in players faster than science allows. This nonsense was hailed as good news right through Major League Baseball’s “investigation” into l’affaire Turner, which it dismissed in roughly the time it took the Dodgers to declare, “Nothing to see here, except the parade.”
As for Turner, he waited more than a week to apologize as Major League Baseball pivoted from blaming him specifically to more-or-less exonerating him, the Dodgers, and itself of any wrongdoing under the lads-being-lads clause in the COVID-19 protocols. As is his management style, Rob Manfred was good with this going away ASAP, and so it did … until the county got involved.
But rather than ring bells about Turner’s recklessness and baseball’s uber-casual approach to it, nothing happened. The five positives were reported, and then nobody followed up until the county announced on Saturday that four additional Dodger employees have tested positive. Again, there were no names or duties of those who caught the ‘rona, but there was also little follow-up in a weekend that was crowded with election news you could use, college football, pro football, a schedule for the resumption of basketball, and turgid recitations of baseball teams’ offseason plans. The Dodgers had managed to disappear an entire virus outbreak, either due to skill or the collective inertia of most of the folks who cover the sport.
Maybe everyone is waiting for the Dodgers to do the one thing they would like to do less than disband as a franchise: announce the names of players who caught it. The theory here is that it isn’t news unless you can attach a big name to it, and the Dodgers control the names. Maybe privacy laws are being adhered to here. But names or no, the media silence about the county’s findings are sufficient to wonder if anybody gives a damn about the story at all.
Turner raised the specter of such an outbreak by bolting the corral, and there was much wringing of teeth and gnashing of hands about the possibility of mass infection among his fellow Dodgers. Now there seems to be infection at least on a level sufficient to get the county government involved, and the story is dying on its feet. This gives us several options to consider re: our evident lack of interest.
1. We are easily amused but more easily bored, and either way have the collective attention span of fruit flies.
2. We watched the World Series only out of a strange sense of entertainment-starved obligation, and think that Kevin Cash pulling Blake Snell is the far greater outrage.
3. We’ll just wait for MLB and the Dodgers to tell us whether we should care, even though they have a vested interest in convincing us that we shouldn’t bother.
4. Joe Biden and Donnie Golf stole the Saturday news cycle.
5. Drew Brees, the Tua/Kyler Show, and Dalvin Cook stole the Sunday news cycle.
6. We have COVID-19 exhaustion, and have decided that if the Dodgers don’t care about their safety, neither should we.
Everything except Dalvin Cook is plausible. I’m not sure what this tells us about ourselves if anything, but I suppose someone will explain it all to us during the Dodgers’ spring training previews in February … or April … or 2023. Whenever we get around to it.