Justin Turner helped the Los Angeles Dodgers win their first World Series title since 1988 on Tuesday, but he caught a lot of flak for celebrating that title with his teammates.
Turner was removed from Game 6 of the World Series after testing positive for COVID-19. But he returned to the field after the game – without a mask – to celebrate the title-clinching victory with teammates.
Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Glavine had no problem with this.
“I know this is probably not a popular opinion, but I felt like once you get to the NLCS, why are we even testing anymore anyway?” Glavine said on The Zach Gelb Show. “What difference does it make? If you get a guy that tests positive, he’s maybe going to be sick for a couple days. You’ve got those guys in that clubhouse that are in a fairly quarantined environment to begin with. I just felt like why do it? At this stage of the game, why do we want to have a guy sit out for a week or have a couple of guys sit out for a week? Chances are they’re going to be sick for a couple of days and they’re going to be done with it. And I know that may not be a popular opinion, but that was my opinion, and I’ve seen it with people around me that have gotten sick and how they’ve recovered.”
Turner, 35, has played for the Dodgers since 2014. This was his third World Series appearance and his first World Series championship. It's not surprising that he was elated to win a ring, but many people felt he should have complied with COVID-19 protocols.
“You put yourself in Justin Turner’s place,” Glavine said. “[He’s] another guy who’s come up short for a number of years now. He is now in a situation where he’s going to be on the team that wins the World Series, and as much as everybody outside looking at it can can, ‘Well, that was irresponsible and he should have waited and maybe waited for his next opportunity,’ guess what? He may never get another opportunity. To work as hard as you do as a player to get to that stage where you’re the last team standing, you can’t make people on the outside understand what that’s like.”
The Dodgers have made the playoffs eight years in a row, reaching at least the NLCS five times. They came up short in the World Series against the Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox in 2017 and 2018, respectively, before getting bounced in the NLDS in 2019.
This year, however, they authored a different ending. The Dodgers finished with the best record in baseball – 43-17 – and went 13-5 in the playoffs, beating the Brewers, Padres, Braves, and Rays.
It was a unique, virus-shortened season – one that Glavine says doesn’t deserve an asterisk.
“I know from talking to people that the mental stress this year is probably every bit, if not more, than what you would have had in a 162-game schedule because you don’t know from one day to the next when you walk into the clubhouse how may guys are going to be active, how many games you might have to postpone because guys are sick,” he said. “So the stress of all that is off-the-charts. Now, again, you get to the point where you’ve won this thing – I don’t blame Justin Turner one bit for being out there. Could he maybe have arguably been a little bit more responsible? Probably. But at the same time, I don’t blame him for being out there, and I think people who are trying to say that he shouldn’t even have been out there, I don’t think you understand the work that has to be put in to get to that stage, and quite honestly, he may never have that opportunity again.”
Glavine, 54, was a 10-time All-Star, a two-time NL Cy Young winner, and World Series MVP for the Braves in 1995. He did not think COVID-19 testing should have continued once the NLCS and ALCS began.
“At that stage of the [season], what are you going to do?” he asked. “Start canceling games? Are you going to start calling guys up from the taxi squad to play in the World Series? We worried all along with the testing and how it was going to go, and look, Major League Baseball did a phenomenal job. I know early on they were on the cusp of maybe calling the season because of what was going on with the Marlins and the Cardinals, but beyond that, Major League Baseball did a phenomenal job. The players did a phenomenal job, [as did] all the teams and the staff buying in and doing what they needed to do.
“But if you’re in the World Series and you get one or two guys that test positive, again, are you going to shut it down?” Glavine continued. “Are you going to shut it down for a week, or are you going to start bringing guys in off the taxi squad to play in the World Series? I think those are all equally important questions. I just feel like for the most part when guys have gotten sick, most guys have been asymptomatic and not even known they’ve had it. You’ve been around each other for this stage of the game, for this long. Yeah, I think it’s important to know if a guy has it and you can take precautions to maybe keep him from spreading it to other guys. But look, like I said, I just felt like at the stage of the game, what’s the point? . . . Again, my own personal feeling. Probably not a popular one, but that was just how I felt about it.”