Dodgers clinch first World Series since ’88, controversy ensues
The road to the Dodgers’ World Series-clinching moment actually began several innings earlier, when Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash pulled his starting pitcher, Blake Snell, after only 5.1 innings. Snell, the former American League Cy Young winner, threw just 73 pitches and struck out nine through his 5.1 scoreless frames. Snell had not pitched into the sixth inning all season, and Cash pulled his dominant starter in favor of Nick Anderson, the Rays’ best reliever this season. The decision immediately backfired, however, and the Rays saw their 1–0 lead evaporate. From there, the Dodgers were in full control, winning Game 6 with a score of 3–1, propelled by dominant pitching, offense and defense to win their first championship since 1988. Corey Seager was named World Series MVP, following his National League Championship Series MVP title.
However, the Dodgers’ victory was not without controversy. Longtime third baseman Justin Turner left Game 6 prior to the eighth inning, though the Dodgers did not immediately give a reason for his unexpected exit. He had gone 0–3 with two strikeouts. It was later reported that Turner was pulled following a positive COVID-19 test, and Turner and his wife were told to self-isolate. According to information gathered following Turner’s removal from the game, he had received an inconclusive test a day earlier, on Monday. Turner was tested again on Tuesday, when he tested positive, forcing Major League Baseball to tell the Dodgers to pull Turner from the game. Prior to Turner’s positive test, MLB had gone weeks without a positive COVID-19 test.
Although Turner left the game after his positive COVID-19 test, he returned to the field following the Dodgers’ victory and was seen celebrating on the field, maskless, with his teammates about an hour after the game ended. Turner was told not to return to the field, but ignored MLB’s instructions to isolate, and he was not stopped from returning to the field. Turner was seen without his mask and standing next to manager Dave Roberts in the team picture. He was also photographed hugging teammates and taking pictures with the World Series trophy. Turner was heavily criticized by reporters and fans alike for his actions and refusal to follow medical guidance, prompting MLB to issue a statement that they intended to investigate Turner’s actions following his COVID-19 diagnosis.
Turner released a statement attempting to justify his actions, arguing that he was under the impression that he had been cleared to return to the field following the game.
On Nov. 6, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred issued a statement in response to the investigation. Manfred restated Turner’s justification for violating isolation protocols and chided the league for not creating a more secure environment that would have barred Turner from returning to the field. Further, Manfred determined that Turner will not be disciplined or fined for his irresponsible actions, despite putting his team, their families and reporters at risk.