Justin Turner and Los Dodgers, What Is You Doing?
But first, before we dive into Justin Turner and the COVID mayhem, how about a little context for these breaking (or as close to it as we can be) news articles? And if you’re not interested, no worries! Just skip a few paragraphs down to the section titled “Okay, back to the Justin Turner COVID fiasco. Let’s dive in.”
Here at Unfinished Business and Rate My College Coaches, we have far-ranging interests at both the collegiate and professional levels. And this year, we’re looking to kick things up a notch – or five – in terms of our coverage. What does that mean?
Well, dear reader, that means you’ll be getting a whole lot more from us. We’ll be beefing up our focused coverage as we bring in more writers for the next year, as well as throwing some more general and breaking news into the mix.
Yes, you heard that right. I’ll be pulling a breaking news team together.
Our objective? Start tapping into our local audience by providing quality commentary on the latest and greatest news the sporting world had to offer. After all, we need to tap into hyperlocal and viral conversations at some point. Why not start now?
Well, yesterday, I covered the big Dez Bryant news. For those who haven’t heard, fear not. I’ve got you. Today, however, I’m stepping away from Dallas news for a story that has crept evermore so into the national conversation since Tuesday…
Okay, back to the Justin Turner COVID fiasco. Let’s dive in.
Now, look. I generally don’t preface things because I don’t feel the need to. But here’s one anyway since I know COVID has become a sensitive subject. I know there have been endless takes from sports writers on this – both good and awful ones – and that people feel many different ways. So I’m merely going to try and provide some level-headed analysis.
Here’s a good tweet summarizing the issue:
MLB said it is beginning an investigation into the actions of Dodgers infielder Justin Turner, who was pulled from Game 6 after testing positive for COVID-19 but still took the field after the game to celebrate. https://t.co/CyrxcJMktu
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 28, 2020
I find that the above tweet lacks a bit of key information. Justin Turner was pulled in the eighth inning, returning to the field just a couple of hours later to celebrate the World Series win with the rest of his team.
Via the LA Times:
Like I generally do, I’ll also share some of my own social media commentary on this issue in hopes of closing the knowledge gap for those who need it. When doing so, I’m often reaching into the past. Keep that in mind when it comes to the latest and greatest developing/breaking news on the topic, which I’ll cover here as well.
Here’s what I’ve gathered so far.
And here are some answers to my musings from above:
1. “When was this test administered? They either tested him upon recognition of some mid-game symptoms, over which they probably should have pulled him already, or the test results didn’t come back before the game…? Which doesn’t make sense either.”
Okay, so as JT himself puts it, he felt great and never, be it before the game or after testing positive, noticed any symptoms. According to all of the accounts I can find and the MLB itself, the League first learned of Turner’s positive test in the seventh inning. Administered Monday, the test failed to provide conclusive results before Tuesday’s game 6. With that, hopping forward, Justin Turner left the game seemingly out of nowhere at the start of the eighth inning.
At that point, LA was leading 2-1 in the top of the eighth inning, the Dodgers being up 3-2 in the series. It was do-or-die time, and it wasn’t until after the game that news of the positive test broke. Considering other scenarios we’ve seen with athletes getting pulled right before or during competition, that’s not so crazy. But there was still clearly some weirdness going on.
I mean, why exactly is a test coming back that late when the point is to clear you for competition? Fear not, I have that answer, thanks to NPR:
“Turner took a COVID-19 test on Monday, but it came back inconclusive during the second inning of Tuesday’s game, CBS Sports explains. So the lab expedited a retest, which came back positive. Turner was removed from the game after the seventh inning. He was quarantined in a doctor’s office near the field.”
So, the originally-inconclusive test was redone ASAP. Then, Tucker and LA just got unlucky when the retest turned up positive, I suppose? Hey, that’s probably fair. What can you really do in that situation? You can’t control everything in your atmosphere (sadly), and an inconclusive test, to my understanding, doesn’t guarantee a potentially positive result.
Even so, my first thought was that perhaps you shouldn’t let people play when you can’t guarantee they’re negative for the ‘Rona. I understand how tough that decision would be when winning the World Series is on the line, but what else could LA have done? Granted, though, making the right choice here was about integrity, and we all know that goes by the wayside in the pursuit of success. Whatever. I have a lot of thought here but digress.
2. “Then, either way, whichever of the above happened, they mismanaged the situation, right?”
So we trudge onward. Okay, maybe I’m too hard on LA. Medical testing is no cakewalk, so I’ll give them a pass on the front-end of this issue. It’s not like they’re the only team, league, or institution to have “screwed the pooch” in terms of their COVID protocols. Also, asking the MLB to react faster than they did is probably unrealistic too.
I’ll concede that, but what I won’t concede is how things got stupid after Turner’s eight-inning departure. The man’s positive test comes back in the seventh inning, and he gets pulled in the eighth inning. Then, he spends the rest of the game quarantined with his wife in a nearby doctor’s office.
THEN, here’s the kicker, Turner not-so-sneakily comes out to join the team roughly an hour after the game ends. I say “not-so-sneakily” in jest because I know he didn’t care to do that. In that time on the field, he generally wore a mask. But as you may have heard, Turner later proceeded to take his mask off for some team photos and other casual mingling. Some of the loudest outrage you’ve perhaps heard about this is how Turner interacted with Dave Roberts, LA’s manager, and a Hodgkin’s lymphoma survivor, during that post-game time spent on the field.
Oh, come on. I respect everybody and how you often don’t know of people’s medical situation, but Roberts wasn’t wearing a mask at times, either. For the sake of my sanity, I’ll move on.
3. “He celebrates afterward with a mask on as if nothing ever happened. I can’t imagine the test was wrong? Even if it was, they wouldn’t have known so soon, yeah? That’s speculation on my end, perhaps though, because I’ve heard no talk of false positives.”
So Justin Turner essentially had no clue how serious this case could or could not have been and rejoined countless teammates, family, and whoever else was involved in LA’s festivities. At that, I’m not sure why I would ever say, “I can’t imagine the test was wrong?” Considering this entire year and the reality that are false positives, that’s a ludicrous statement.
But hey, I saved myself a little with, “Even if it was, they wouldn’t have known so soon, yeah?” Because, of course, they wouldn’t have. Medical staff tested the entire LA and Tampa Bay teams Tuesday night after the game, which was going to happen regardless, and we still haven’t heard anything concrete. At that, both the Dodgers and Rays are now in the beginnings of a two-week quarantine that was inescapable anyway. Maybe that makes much of my commentary moot.
I suppose it’s not that moot, though, really. Otherwise, the MLB wouldn’t be so pissed off over this. Is that just for the sake of PR and optics? Perhaps. Here’s their statement below, via Ken Rosenthal:
Here’s the thing, y’all: This has so little to do with the sports or politics or the idiocies that have come alongside COVID-19 for me. And it’s undoubtedly not about controlling others and their actions. Ultimately, I’m not exactly worried about health when it comes to pro athletes catching this virus on account of their fitness, so they can do what they want.
I just can’t get past the irony. The entire country gets preached to while members of the American elite get write-offs incessantly. Am I saying the Dodgers are going to suffer mass casualties? Obviously not, because it’s highly likely all players will be okay. Furthermore, they have world-class healthcare, so it isn’t exactly doomsday here. But that’s not the point.
My point is less about Justin Turner, and more about continuity and consistency.
Granted, my qualm here, as it generally is, is largely with media, its hypocrisy, and how that intersects with COVID. I’m not gung-ho either way, just fascinated by how often people don’t do the right thing. I say that as if ethics and morality aren’t subjective, but you get my point.
Whether or not Turner was right or wrong, buddies, acquaintances, and much of the social media world alike bring up a decent point. Justin Turner worked his entire life to win a World Series and should be left alone to enjoy it…
I understand that point fully and generally love sports as much as the next guy. But how does that make Justin Turner any different from every other professional athlete ever? I don’t know, man. It’s not like I don’t understand the gravity of big-league championships; Turner may never make it back to the World Series again. Err… Well, if I’m even writing this, maybe it is lost on me!
Even so, Justin Turner already missed the win in-person.
I know pictures are worth a thousand words and that photos greatly facilitate those memories, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles. People, be them athletes or Average Joes, have been quarantining, canceling, and missing out on everything since February.
Alternatively, I could go down the statistical rabbit hole that is COVID. I won’t, but who’s to say how many COVID-positive or soon-to-be COVID-positive people we’ve all crossed paths with over the last eight months? When you look at the human experiment throughout this pandemic, it’s been pretty ugly. And to say the absolute least, it’s been interesting – the sociology of it all.
What’s funny, though, is the people most at-risk on that field seemed not to care, while so much of social and news media do. That tends to be the case when it comes to media and opinions. I suppose I should admit that, technically, I’m a hypocrite too. Because if I were living in the media spotlight, I’d surely be ostracized over measures I’ve failed to take, perhaps even things as small as leaving my mask down for more than ten seconds after chugging water in the gym. And that’s from somebody who wears masks everywhere he’s asked. I don’t have problems with that.
I’ll leave with this because I enjoy sharing contrary viewpoints.
One of the buddies I mentioned above made a point to me: “His teammates didn’t care… why do y’all?” I responded with my second-to-last subtitle, “My point is continuity and consistency.” But then, I thought some more. Consent plays a big role here; I wonder how much of that Justin Turner’s teammates really got to give.
And hey, my buddy wasn’t the only one who said that. Mookie said it, as did Andrew Friedman, LA’s president of baseball operations:
I’ll repeat that for Mr. Friedman.
“But Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman defended Turner’s actions. ‘I think the people who were around him would be in the contact tracing web anyway — which is how close a lot of us have been around each other,’ Friedman said, according to The Orange County Register.”
For what it’s worth, the man ain’t exactly wrong.