Covid-19 Celebration leads to a minor Outbreak

Conor Sukel, staff writer

On October 27th the Los Angeles Dodgers won the World Series, but the accomplishment of the team wasn’t the biggest story of the night. Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner was pulled from the game because he tested positive for COVID-19, but returned to celebrate the victory. 

In a year where a virus has impacted every major event, even Major League Baseball(MLB), a multi-billion dollar business couldn’t avoid it’s biggest stage feeling the impact. Usually, the MLB begins its 162 game regular season in the beginning of April, however this year the MLB started a 60 game regular season on July 23rd. 

By the end of July Covid-19 had struck the MLB and games began to get postponed. The league tested it’s players every other day and still had 43 games postponed. Still the league managed to complete the 60 game regular season with only two teams playing less than the scheduled 60 game schedule.

At the conclusion of the regular season the MLB decided to have the playoff series played in one location to minimize travel and exposure to COVID-19. The National League had two venues in Arlington and Houston, Texas. The World Series was also to be held in Arlington, Texas. 

The Dodgers entered the playoff bubble in Arlington, Texas on October 3rd. On October 27th when the Dodgers took the field they had been in the bubble for 24 days unable to go anywhere but their hotel room and the ballpark. 

Throughout the entire 2020 season the Dodgers had 0 games postponed or cancelled due to COVID-19. In the 2nd inning of the game Turner’s test results came back inconclusive. But during the 7th inning of Game 6 of the World Series MLB was notified that Justin Turner had tested positive for the virus. 

Justin Turner was pulled from the game and put into isolation with his wife in a doctors office for the remainder of the game. Two innings late the Dodgers won the world series and began their celebration, while Turner and his wife stayed in isolation. 

The trophy was given to the Dodgers and hundreds of pictures, special moments, and memories that will last a lifetime were all being made by Dodgers players, family members, and staff on the field…all without Justin Turner. 

It wasn’t until more than an hour after the celebration had begun that Justin and his wife came onto the field to take pictures. The goal to just take a picture with the trophy quickly failed as Turner began hugging teammates and posing for multiple photos, all while properly wearing a mask at first.  

When the entire team gathered for a picture with the trophy, Turner lowered his mask while sitting next to the 48 year-old team manager and cancer survivor Dave Roberts. As the celebration continued, Turner’s mask continued to be lowered. 

The Dodgers manager takes some responsibility saying, “Everyone could’ve done things differently and better. I’m a cancer survivor, I sat next to him.” 

Mookie Betts, a teammate of Justin Turner said, “He’s part of the team. Forget all that. He’s part of the team. We’re not excluding him from anything,” when asked about Turner celebrating on the field with the rest of the organization. 

On November 6th Justin tweeted out an apology that in part read, “As my teammates and I were on the verge of clinching the title, I was blindsided with the news that I had tested positive for COVID-19. I will not make excuses for my conduct, but I will describe my state of mind. Winning the World Series was a lifelong dream…After waiting in the isolation room while my teammates celebrated I asked if I was permitted to return to the field with my wife in order to take a photograph. I assumed by that point that few people were left on the field. I was under the impression that team officials did not object to my returning to the field with a picture with my wife….In hindsight, I should have waited until the field was clear of others to take that photo with my wife. I sincerely apologize to everyone on the field for failing to appreciate the risks of returning to the field. I have spoken with almost every teammate, coach, and staff member, and my intentions were never to make anyone uncomfortable or put anyone at further risk…” 

In the 10 days following the conclusion of the World Series several reports were that the Dodgers organization had 5 more positive COVID tests, while other reports say the organization has had 9 more positive tests. 

One Joliet West student athlete responds to being asked about how he would react if his team won a championship during COVID-19 by saying, “I have been on both sides of big games and there is so much raw emotion involved. Obviously, looking back he (Justin Turner) shouldn’t have celebrated, but in that moment everything the athletes have worked for and sacrificed has paid off and you aren’t thinking with most caution at the time because you are overcome with emotion.”

Despite being in relative isolation for 24 days and under more strict rules and regulations than everyday people for numerous months Justin Turner and other professional athletes continue to test positive for the COVID-19 virus. For example, the NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced that starting November 21st all 32 teams must enter the most intense protocols the NFL currently has which includes testing negative before entering their practice or game facility each time. College athletes are being asked to only interact with each other and stay away from many common areas around campus while their coaches put together schedules that limit travel and number of opponents.  Let this serve as a remainder to stay safe and make smart decisions not just for yourself but for your family, friends, and even the strangers around you.