The Los Angeles Dodgers were only six outs away from their first World Series Championship since 1988 when the defense hit the field.  With just a 2-1 lead, every pitch would be crucial, every ground ball paramount.  Mookie Betts jogged out to right field, Corey Seager slowly walked to short, but Dodger third baseman Justin Turner…was nowhere to be seen.

The Dodgers’ Justin Turner celebrates on the field after Game 6 of the World Series on Tuesday night in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

By now most know the story as reported.  Major League Baseball would inform the Dodgers in the second inning that Justin Turner had tested positive for COVID-19, and a rapid-test was being done to confirm those results.  Two hours later, just after the seventh inning, the results were confirmed as Turner was taken out of the ballgame, removed from the dugout, and replaced by the rarely used Edwin Rios.

The Dodgers would hang on to win the game 3-1 to capture their seventh title, but questions still remain how an event like this could happen with just six outs to go?

That’s when I thought about COVID-19 and conspiracy theories.

  • From the Dodgers’ perspective, it would be reasonable to assume that the organization never told Turner about his initial positive test so he could just focus on baseball. Turner ended up hitting .320 in the series with four doubles and two homers.  It’s possible that the team was informed that Turner tested positive much earlier, but slow-played the information because they were only one win from winning the World Series and Turner was pivotal.
  • But taking Turner out before the game ended had to be done. Once the word had leaked that Turner had tested positive and the Dodgers knew about it, playing him the entire game would look irresponsible and tarnish their victory.  Replacing Turner in the last inning looks suspect.  The eighth inning looks just about right.
  • From the League’s perspective, informing the Dodgers that a player had tested positive only after the game had already begun sounds suspicious. If the Commissioner of Baseball, Rob Manfred, informed the team prior to the first pitch he would risk the game, and the series to potentially be cancelled due to COVID-19 risk.  While the confirmation of a positive test around the second inning could bring the entire game and series to an immediate stoppage, and create a public relations nightmare.  Providing the information around the eighth inning, just six outs from a completion of the season, and the Dodgers leading 2-1, sounds like the right move.
  • If Manfred failed to get the information to the Dodgers before the end of the game, it would look like Major League Baseball is failing to protect its players. Instead, the League relayed the information eventually and the season, and owners, rejoiced.  The eighth inning sounds about right.

In Clemson, the top-ranked college football team announced that their star quarterback, Trevor Lawrence, had tested positive for COVID-19.  Lawrence, the consensus first pick in next year’s NFL draft, would have to miss last Saturday’s game against an average Boston College, but the larger question remained whether he would be able to return the following week for a matchup versus fourth-ranked Notre Dame.

That’s when I thought about COVID-19 and conspiracy theories.

  • The ACC has a protocol that states a player must be out for ten days following a positive COVID-19 test. Because a college campus does their own testing, and the rule defines the start of the ten-day-period at either the start of symptoms, or a positive test, Lawrence is technically eligible to come back on Saturday, November 7th.  The day the team plays Notre Dame.
  • The term, start of symptoms, sure makes the math a little easier.
  • Clemson’s coach, Dabo Swinney, apparently put an end to the matter when he informed the press that Lawrence would probably not play against Notre Dame because the testing protocol, and cardiac evaluation would most likely take more time. That opinion was only voiced to the press after Clemson’s back-up and five-star recruit, DJ Uiagalelei threw for 342 yards and two touchdowns, while running for a third.

COVID-19 is a serious matter and conspiracy theories are mostly for laughs.  But here is one more.

The Wisconsin Badgers have had multiple players and staff test positive for COVID-19 that apparently includes their head coach, starting quarterback, and backup quarterback.  Big Ten protocol calls for players to sit for 21 days before becoming eligible again, threatening the entire season.

  • How can Wisconsin have 22 football players and staff test positive for COVID-19, and Nebraska have none?
  • They do know that the Q-Tip is supposed to go in the nose, don’t they?

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