An Open Letter to Justin Turner and M.L.B.


Justin Turner, it’s time for you to apologize.

I lived in Los Angeles long enough to know how much you mean to the Dodgers — and to L.A. baseball fans who have watched you, a native Southern Californian, become the late-blooming linchpin of a team that just won its first World Series in 32 years.

You’re one of baseball’s brightest stars, but you followed up the greatest win of your life with a dim and dangerous move.

That postgame celebration after the title-clinching Game 6 didn’t just put everyone around you at risk. Being at the center of it while knowing you’d tested positive for the coronavirus bruised a championship team’s legacy and sent a terrible message to fans at a time when the pandemic is raging out of control.

Where is the remorse? What are we missing?

When your coronavirus test came back positive during the late innings of Game 6, you were pulled from the game and isolated. That’s protocol.

Nobody in the general public really knows.

You’d gone through so much to win this title. The long string of wrenching playoff losses. The two defeats in the World Series, including the 2017 loss to the Houston Astros, a team Major League Baseball later found had cheated.

Add in the pandemic with its pressures, tensions and pain.

Perhaps you succumbed to what psychologists call Covid Fatigue, which can lead to poor and sometimes dangerous decision making as we seek ways to taste some semblance of normalcy.

You knew the risks. You had a reputation as an enforcer of health protocols.

“I feel no symptoms at all,” you wrote in your tweet after the game. But you surely understood that feeling fine doesn’t absolve responsibility. You can feel fine but spread the virus to someone else who also feels fine, and that person can spread it to someone who ends up hospitalized.

You could not have been blind to the havoc the virus has wreaked globally. More than 229,000 people have died so far in the United States. Hopefully we will find out that you’re still feeling well and that you never have any Covid-19 symptoms.

There are potential long-term effects for those who get sick and survive. Kenley Jansen, your team’s star reliever, had undergone surgeries to correct an irregular heartbeat in years past and contracted the virus before this odd season began. Even when he was cleared to begin playing, Jansen did not feel right for weeks.

Your actions were a slap in the face to all who have died. All who have lost loved ones. All who have caught the disease and struggled. To the doctors and nurses, the grocery clerks and the postal workers. To the kids stuck at home, attending school over laptops.

You should make amends to your fans, to the fans of baseball, to everyone watching, and all who see you as a role model.

You owe it to your teammates, as well. They wanted you on the field to celebrate, but that doesn’t make it right.

This year’s World Series was already destined to be remembered as the first played amid the pandemic. But now, whenever future generations look back, along with Clayton Kershaw’s pitching and Corey Seager’s Most Valuable Player Award will be images of you, maskless and coronavirus-positive, sitting near your teammates with the championship trophy.

As I write this note, you have not apologized. Not publicly at least. Neither has Major League Baseball.

That means you, Rob Manfred. You’re the commissioner. This can’t all be blamed on one player whose judgment lapsed.

Sure, there has never been a season like this one. And after a terrible early going — with players infected in batches and games canceled — you were close to pulling it off with something like momentum. Until Turner, no player had tested positive for the virus in nearly two months.

You were even blessed by luck. One example: The series did not go to a seventh game. Could it have been played as scheduled with Turner having tested positive?

There is much for baseball to answer for. Turner’s test results came back during Game 6, not before play started, which was needed to ensure everyone’s safety on the field that night. So far, there hasn’t been a good explanation as to how that terrible a lapse occurred.


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