As well as being a cricket fan, over the years I’ve occasionally dived deep into baseball, particularly Major League Baseball (MLB) in the USA.
In most team sports, it does not take long for teams to figure out who the leaders are among them.
They are usually the first ones through the door in the mornings and the last ones out in the evening. They take no shortcuts with their approach to training and preparation and always look to elevate their teammates to the next level. These leaders usually find themselves with the ‘C’ on their jersey representing them as team captain.
On Tuesday night in baseball’s World Series final between the LA Dodgers and Tampa Bay Rays, I witnessed the most selfish act I have ever seen in the sporting landscape by a man who I thought was a leader.
Los Angeles Dodgers captain and third baseman Justin Turner was looking for his team to close out the World Series with a Game 6 win in their best-of-seven series. The Dodgers were looking to cap off a remarkable year where they held the best regular-season record in the league with 43 wins and 17 losses.
Turner, a California native who grew up in Long Beach just south of Los Angeles as a Dodgers fan was one win away from living out his childhood dream of winning a Dodgers World Series title.
In a crazy turn of events, Turner was removed from Tuesday’s game midway through the eighth inning with results of a prior COVID test returning a positive reading. Turner left the field where he could be seen isolating in a team doctor’s office in the stadium.
The Dodgers rallied from a 1-0 deficit to go on to clinch their first title since 1988 with a 3-1 win. After Turner’s brief isolation period, he surprisingly returned to the playing field to celebrate the win with his teammates.
Now, this is the part where Turner can rip that ‘C’ clean off his jersey. Well, having the ‘C’ on your jersey for being the captain is more of a hockey tradition but for the sake of emphasising how angry I am with him just imagine he is wearing one.
Just when I thought Turner could not get any more selfish by returning to the playing field to celebrate, he had the audacity and recklessness to take off his face mask and pose for team photos where he could be seen hugging with teammates. I understand that he has worked his tail off the past seven seasons as a Dodger and gone through some heart-aching losses along the way, but as a team captain and role model to so many children, this was Turner’s opportunity to make a bold statement.
He could have sent a clear message around the league and to the world that even his childhood dream of winning a World Series has to take a backseat to something as serious as COVID-19, but he failed to do so.
A global pandemic is taking place where families are being forced to quarantine days, weeks and months without saying goodbye to sick and dying loved ones, yet Turner cannot go longer than one hour away from his teammates. You would think the selfishness would stop after getting your team photo and posing with the trophy, but it got worse.
A member of the Major Baseball League’s security detail approached Turner and asked him to leave the field, but he refused to depart. By this stage, all his teammates had their families out on the field consisting of their wives and children. This man is supposed to be a leader, setting examples and leading the way for others to follow.
Never in all my years consuming sports have I ever seen an athlete, let alone a team captain, act so selfish by putting numerous lives at risk just so he could take his moment in the spotlight. My biggest takeaway from this disaster is that all the hard work you put in as a leader can unravel in seconds by poor judgment and a few acts of selfishness.
For Turner’s wellbeing, I hope none of his teammates or family contract the virus but Major League Baseball needs to come down heavy on this incident with a suspension and a very hefty fine to send a clear message that this can never happen again.