With all do respect to delicate, pearl-clutching matrons, why are so many of them attracted to writing about sports? Check out The Washington Post’s Barry Svrluga and his more-in-sorrow scolding of L.A. Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner for celebrating his world series win with the team. (And Svrluga isn't the only one.)
During the game, the Dodgers were informed that Turner tested positive for COVID. Though he had no symptoms, they followed protocol and pulled him from a tight game in the 8th inning. The Dodgers went on to win the World Series. After losing (and perhaps being cheated out of) consecutive titles in 2017 and 18. After having made it to the playoffs every year since 2013. After more than three decades.
Justin Turner’s been with the team since 2014, been in the big leagues since 210. He’s 35 years-old and has been playing and working for this moment for 30 years. So he went out and celebrated with his team.
Was it a good idea? Maybe not. But his teammates didn’t mind. Right fielder Mookie Betts shrugged when asked about it. “He’s part of the team.” Betts said. “Forget all that. He’s part of the team. We’re not excluding him from anything.”
That wasn’t good enough for Svrluga, who was at the stadium, and apparently not at all happy about it:
The restaurants in nearby Fort Worth, where I stayed, are open and, over the weekend, were packed, even indoors. The signs in the hotel lobby stating that masks were required in all public spaces were followed — by some of the people, some of the time. Perhaps the most uneasy moments I experienced came in Games 4 and 6, when cool weather and the threat of rain meant the roof at Globe Life Field would be closed, meaning more than 11,000 people would be indoors to take in a ballgame.
Tell ya what Barry, if you’re so skittish you fear being in a giant dome with everyone wearing a mask and nobody in arms reach, I’ll cover next year’s Series for you. How's the Post at picking up bar tabs?
Whatever his personal concerns, like any good liberal, Svrluga loves talking about the collective. MLB’s ridiculous short season and bubble ball playoffs were MLB’s supreme victory, and Turner “hugging [his team] with his mask on, posing for the photograph with it off, kissing his wife, mingling closely — he chipped away at some of that accomplishment.”
See, scofflaws like Turner are why we can’t have nice things. “If we’re going to have the diversion of sports,” Svrluga explains, “it’s important the people providing it not only keep themselves and others safe, but understand millions are watching them.” Glad to know the conditions under which Barry will allow us our entertainments.
He lectures Turner and us on personal responsibility -- not usually high on a liberal’s list of virtues, but, you know, for the millions. The mask-wearing of Chiefs Coach Andy Reid and Dodgers manager Dave Roberts mark them as virtuous people. “Those are personal choices, but they reflect behavior that has the rest of the population in mind.”
Turner’s teammates are part of the population. They could have shunned him. His wife could have avoided the kiss, I guess. (Meekly letting sports writers tell us when it’s appropriate to kiss our spouses sure doesn’t sound like the behavior of free-born citizens of the republic, but maybe some people find that a turn-on.) They didn’t. Maybe they’re a hardier breed than your average Postie.
What’s worse, Turner is modeling this bad behavior right before the holidays, when “families everywhere are going to face a version of the choice Turner faced early Wednesday morning: Gather, celebrate a special moment and feel normal during a decidedly abnormal time, or stay home, sacrificing joy to lessen the risk for everyone.”
Like our sports, Svrluga has rules for our holidays. But he should take heart. Many of the millions in the great collective he cares so deeply about have already been scared witless by the Post and its ilk, and are probably just as appalled as he is at Turner et al. The rest of us know there’s a virus, and know the “medical advice” (such as it is this week.) We also know another important thing: Justin Turner won the World Frickin’ Series and we didn’t.