Is there a more fitting end to a wildly abnormal MLB season?

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 27: Justin Turner #10 of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts after flying out against the Tampa Bay Rays during the sixth inning in Game Six of the 2020 MLB World Series at Globe Life Field on October 27, 2020 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 27: Justin Turner #10 of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts after flying out against the Tampa Bay Rays during the sixth inning in Game Six of the 2020 MLB World Series at Globe Life Field on October 27, 2020 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

Mookie Betts and Julio Urias thrived in the final game of the MLB season, but it was Justin Turner’s behind-the-scene actions that stole the headlines.

The whirlwind of a Major League Baseball season has concluded. Despite COVID-19 upending the expectation of a typical baseball year, MLB did manage a playoffs, and it did crown a champion. Though before the Los Angeles Dodgers sprayed champagne throughout the clubhouse, before the lights of Globe Life Field faded, the persistent and offensive Coronavirus had to make a final impression.

The Happening

Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner was pulled in the 8th inning of Tuesday night’s World Series-clincher in light of a positive COVID-19 test. Per reports, stadium officials isolated him to an in-house doctor’s office where he was to stay until further notice from the league.

In the meantime, the Dodgers solidified their first World Series title since 1988, and aggressive dog piles, celebratory embraces, and out-of-breath postgame interviews ensued. Turner, a seven-year Dodger and renowned team leader, apparently couldn’t stand pat and watch his squad rejoice without him.

He fled isolation to join his teammates on the field. He at least wore a mask… until he didn’t. Turner removed his face covering for a team photo and kept it off during additional snapshots and interactions with his Dodgers’ family. When security finally asked him to leave the field, he refused.

The Conundrum

Justin Turner’s lack of discipline irked MLB followers across the country. Fans took to social media to express their outrage. The media blanketed the topic the next morning. And the league quickly informed the public of an upcoming investigation into the matter.

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The consensus: Turner acted selfishly, callously, and naively.

Yes, he did. Though if you look at the situation from his perspective, you might understand his decision-making.

Turner has been the everyday third baseman for Los Angeles for the past seven seasons. He’s hit in the middle of the lineup for most of that time, and he’s long been the club’s most consistent bat. He played a critical role in the Dodgers’ route to the World Series in 2017 and 2018. Both appearances, he watched in heartbreak as the opposition celebrated a championship at the center of Dodger Stadium.

Having come so close to winning multiple titles with roughly the same cast around him over the last few years, he would want nothing more than to be amid the glory when the Dodgers finally emerge as victors. He proved so on Tuesday night by prioritizing celebration over caution.

The Reality

Awareness of the dangers of COVID-19 takes precedence. Look no further than the general virus safety guidelines: avoid large groups, keep six feet apart from others, don’t spread sweat or saliva.

The entire Dodgers’ World Series roster gathered in one area after the game, along with coaches, family, front office members, MLB officials, and media members. Social distancing was not top of mind, and few masks were front of face. Those who just played a four-hour baseball game did not wash off before joining the party. Plus, it’s hard to believe the constant joyful yelling and screaming did not produce a bit of spit. Consider all guidelines discarded in the moment.

The exhibition would have been acceptable as long as no one participating had contracted the Coronavirus. Justin Turner knowingly tested positive for the virus – a virus that nearly every person in the world can attest to spreading remarkably quickly and easily – yet he chose to launch himself into a mass of people and touch things that others would also touch.

Turner put the health of those around him at risk and may have set off a chain that puts countless others at risk as well.

The Alternative

Justin Turner had the chance to empower discipline, care, and fortitude against COVID-19. He could have sent a message that not even a hard-earned, once-in-a-lifetime accomplishment could keep him from quarantine when the virus struck him at the worst possible time.

Thousands of people would have admired his moral commitment, perhaps locking it in their brains as they navigate a virus-ridden society. Some would have thought, “If Justin Turner can forgo a World Series celebration to keep from spreading COVID-19, I can enhance my efforts to stop it.”

If only he realized the capacity of his decision to leave isolation. It’s difficult to fault him for being in the moment and thinking about nothing more than celebrating with his fellow soldiers. On the other hand, it should be easy to think “safety first” amidst a global pandemic, especially when labeled as a confirmed case.

Like so many individuals across the country, Turner shrugged off safety protocols. Unlike so many individuals across the country, his poor judgement was revealed on national television.

The Timeline

The Coronavirus disrupted the MLB season in March, and its momentum pushed the regular season start date to July 23rd. Throughout the 60-game regular season, the Marlins, Cardinals, Phillies, and Reds encountered positive tests that resulted in postponements.

On October 17th, MLB confirmed its 47th consecutive day of no positive tests. Ten days later, during the closing game of the 2020 baseball season, Justin Turner tested positive for the virus.

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As soon as the Dodgers’ World Series battle with the Rays concluded, MLB’s battle with the Coronavirus returned. Rather than critiquing the Xs and Os of a fascinating Game 6 and patting the Dodgers on the back, everyone is lamenting Turner’s behavior and giving the pandemic more air time. An MLB season haunted by the virus ends with a championship haunted by the virus. How fitting.