2020 has been a series of unfortunate events. As the pandemic raged through our nation in March, we lost sports, leaving us waiting months for them to come back. By summer, all major sports leagues in America were able to return to their respective fields and courts. Some were able to keep the infection rate extremely low; the NBA bubble lasted 96 days and there was not a single case of COVID-19. The NHL bubble(s) were also able to thrive without COVID-19. The MLB, on the other hand, was a different story. With outbreaks at every turn, no one thought the league would reach the World Series. Commissioner Rob Manfred and his staff were not able to keep COVID-19 out of the ballparks, ultimately putting all his players and staff in danger.
The Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Tampa Bay Rays in the 2020 World Series 4-2. The series was capped off by a game six that seemed to be trending in the right direction for the Rays. Tampa Bay’s ace, Blake Snell, started the game and put together a masterpiece through six innings, striking out nine, giving up two hits and one earned run. Snell had the game under control and only threw 75 pitches. He looked ready to dominate the rest of the game. Then, Manager Kevin Cash pulled Snell from the game, who was visibly frustrated by the choice. The next pitcher, Nick Anderson, immediately gave up a run and was pulled from the game. From that moment on, it was the Dodgers’ game. Los Angeles shortstop Corey Seager secured the World Series MVP by hitting .400 with two home runs and five RBI’s. The seven runs Seager scored tied a Dodgers World Series record.
However, for the Dodgers, this World Series trophy came at a cost. Late in the game, the Dodgers’ star third baseman Justin Turner was mysteriously pulled from the game. As soon as the game ended, it was reported that Turner tested positive for COVID-19. After being pulled from the game, Turner was immediately isolated in an office in the Globe Life Field clubhouse. Yet after the game, you could find Turner on the field with his teammates. Cameras showed him hugging his teammates (with masks on), taking team pictures (without a mask on) and kissing his wife (obviously maskless). All of this happened in a baseball stadium filled with fans at a 25% capacity.
This was the cherry on top of Manfred’s COVID-19 mess. During the course of summer camp and the regular season there were 104 positive cases among just the players; this doesn’t include the numerous cases among team personnel. 43 regular-season games were postponed due to positive COVID-19 tests. Two teams, the Miami Marlins and the St. Louis Cardinals, had major outbreaks of COVID-19 and did not play for weeks at a time.
Turner, Manfred and the Dodgers are all responsible for Turner taking the field after the game. The Dodgers’ President recently stated the importance of Turner taking the field with his team because of Turner’s impending free agency. That’s absurd, short-sighted and incomprehensibly unfair to his teammates. They might not want him back next season. And you would think a World Series trophy would be enough to get him to re-sign.
We walked into this MLB season uncertain whether we could make it to the playoffs, let alone the World Series. We got here, but no thanks to Manfred. After the Astros cheating debacle and Manfred’s wimpy response, he should have been on his best behavior. But the MLB had no such luck. As we walk slowly into the 2021 season, hoping to avoid a lockout, we have to wonder when baseball is going to bid farewell to Rob Manfred.