Last night, my hometown baseball team, the Los Angeles Dodgers, won the World Series for the first time since 1988.
I can still remember the 1988 World Series, which featured Kirk Gibson’s famous walk-off home run in Game 1 (my dad and I started off watching the game at our local Shakey’s pizzeria, and finished it at home, cheering loudly enough to alarm our neighbors).
The Dodgers have been excellent for quite some time, winning their division in eight straight seasons, and advancing to the World Series in 2017 and 2018 as well (where they lost to the cheating Astros and cheating Red Sox). But their failure to win a championship has haunted them, especially star Clayton Kershaw, who is the greatest pitcher of his generation, but whose postseason performance has fallen short of his remarkable standards.
I was elated last night when the Dodgers finally won, but it was bittersweet because third baseman Justin Turner had been forced to leave the game after a positive Covid-19 test. This was going to be the greatest moment of his career (at age 36, he is nearing retirement) and he was going to miss out on celebrating a championship with his teammates.
Imagine my surprise, then, when I found out that Turner (who had been one of the most vocal supporters of strict adherence to Major League Baseball’s Covid-19 safety protocols) had simply ignored orders to self-isolate, and returned to the field to celebrate with his teammates. When it came time for the team photo, he even removed his mask, despite being seated next to manager Dave Roberts, a cancer survivor.
Roberts and Dodgers GM Andrew Friedman essentially looked the other way, saying that they weren’t going to stop Turner from returning to the field to celebrate.
But that’s the thing about rules and safety protocols. They have to be followed, rigorously, or they don’t work.
It’s easy to follow rules when they don’t cost us anything. If they ask us to do something we would do anyway. But it’s essential to follow rules, especially and particularly when they cost us something of great value.
It may seem unfair to not be able to celebrate the greatest accomplishment of your career with your teammates. But it is equally unfair to endanger those teammates, their loved ones, the team staff, and all the workers obligated to be out on the field–the camera operators, security guards, groundskeepers, and more.
I fervently hope that no one gets sick because of Turner and the Dodgers’ actions. But even if that fortunate outcome occurs, deliberately flouting safety rules–for whatever reason–sends a terrible message to a country and world still struggling with a terrible pandemic.
It’s not okay to break the rules to hold a political rally.
It’s not okay to break the rules to organize a protest.
It’s not okay to break the rules to hold a wedding.
And it’s not okay to break the rules to celebrate a championship.
That’s 2020 for you. Even a moment which should be pure joy for all involved falls under the shadow of Covid-19.