Justin Turner has taken a lot of justified heat in the days since he and the Los Angeles Dodgers captured the World Series championship that has eluded them for the last five years. In case you need a refresher, Turner was told he tested positive for coronavirus in the middle of Game 6, exited the game, then went back onto the field to celebrate as a maskless champion. Yesterday, MLB released a statement heavily condemning his actions and said Turner refused to leave the field when confronted by MLB security.
It feels a hammer is looming and we're all waiting for the league to drop it on Turner and the Dodgers. Most would agree it's justified. Not Stephen A. Smith, though. He spent a good chunk of his morning on First Take arguing that Turner should absolutely not be blamed for this, and fingers should be pointed at Major League Baseball instead.
There are some merits to the argument, I'll grant him that. MLB definitely should have considered postponing Game 6 until conclusive tests are received. Turner's interactions with his teammates after learning he tested positive doesn't change the fact that he was shoulder-to-shoulder with them in the dugout for the first two hours of the game. It was the protocols that allowed Turner to be in the dugout in the first place.
However, there were family members of his teammates on the field after the celebration who were not with Turner in the dugout. Rob Manfred was out there. There were a few dozen people who were exposed to coronavirus because Turner wanted to celebrate this achievement. If he had stayed in the locker room like he was supposed to, that would not have happened.
Is this all Turner's fault? Of course it isn't. I completely agree with Smith that more criticism should be directed towards the league for the decision to go on even with inconclusive tests. But should Turner escape punishment? No, he should not. The fact that he had already exposed his teammates to COVID-19 by accident does not make it any better that he did so on purpose an hour and a half later.
Sometimes, two things can be true at the same time. That is the case here. Turner should not have gone back on the field, further exposing his teammates to the virus and threatening the health of those who weren't in the dugout with him that day. MLB shouldn't have gone forward with inconclusive tests and hoped everything would be fine. No one should escape criticism.