The 2020 baseball season ended with a crazy final day — final hours, really — which seems very fitting considering how truly crazy this year has been for everyone, not just baseball.
The Dodgers won Game 6 on Tuesday night at Globe Life Field, home of the Texas Rangers. The Dodgers beat the Rays 3-1 to wrap up the franchise’s first World Series title since 1988, ending a streak that wasn’t long compared to some historical baseball droughts but felt generational for Dodgers fans who had seen their team fail to bring home a certain piece of metal seven postseasons in a row.
We should have known the 2020 season wouldn’t go quietly into the night. Here are the four most bizarre happenings on the final night of the 2020 baseball season, ranked from least to most bizarre.
4. Rob Manfred was booed heartily
Booing a commissioner happens. Gary Bettman, the NHL commissioner, has been a common target for hockey fans for years. But when baseball’s commissioner stepped to the microphone for the trophy presentation ceremony, the booing unleashed by the fans in the stadium seemed to have a special kind of anger.
You’ll remember that the fans in the stadium — Dodgers fans were the overwhelming majority — were the ones most impacted by the sign-stealing scandals of the Astros in 2017 and Red Sox in 2018; the Dodgers lost to those two teams in the World Series. This was their first face-to-face to tell the commissioner what they thought of how he handled those scandals. Manfred was clearly thrown off by the reaction.
And his other two times at the microphone seemed odd, too. He was slurring his words during the World Series MVP trophy presentation to Corey Seager, and again when he was interviewed by Fox’s Tom Verducci. It was hard not to speculate; lots of theories abounded, but hopefully this is the correct option.
Seen a couple other broadcasters mention this. It’s very likely Manfred had his voice feeding back to him on a delay. It sucks. And it makes you feel like you can’t put together 3 words in a row. You never get used to that. https://t.co/Z9tCBZV96s
— Mike Ferrin (@Mike_Ferrin) October 28, 2020
3. The Justin Turner aftermath
Yeah, this is a spoiler to the No. 1 item on this list, but what are you gonna do? It’s not like it’s a shocking No. 1. Justin Turner, who had been pulled from the game in the seventh inning after testing positive for COVID-19, sent out this tweet.
Thanks to everyone reaching out! I feel great, no symptoms at all. Just experienced every emotion you can possibly imagine. Can’t believe I couldn’t be out there to celebrate with my guys! So proud of this team & unbelievably happy for the City of LA#WorldSeriesChamps
— Justin Turner (@redturn2) October 28, 2020
And then, minutes later he was out on the field, holding the World Series trophy.
And then, after that, he was sitting next to manager Dave Roberts, posing for the team photo WITH HIS MASK PULLED DOWN BELOW HIS RED BEARD.
2. Blake Snell’s early hook
The Tampa Bay lefty was authoring one of the truly great back-to-the-wall performances in World Series history. He’d struck out nine and allowed just one base runner before Austin Barnes singled with one out in the sixth inning. Snell was remarkably efficient, despite all those strikeouts and despite dealing with a lineup known for grinding out at-bats and blowing up pitch counts. The single by Barnes was on Snell’s 73rd pitch of the game.
But then, Kevin Cash came out of the dugout and summoned Nick Anderson, with Tampa Bay clinging to a 1-0 lead. The same Nick Anderson who had a 5.02 ERA in his nine playoff appearances and had allowed earned runs in each of his previous six outings. This is the guy Cash brought in to face Mookie Betts, instead of letting Snell face him for a third time. Betts, by the way, struck out in those first two at-bats. It was, truly, a shocking move.
2020 World Series stats
Blake Snell: 161 pitches, 10 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 18K
Tyler Glasnow: 214 pitches, 9.1 IP, 9 H, 10 ER, 9 BB, 15K
Feels like the wrong guy is on the short leash, eh?
— Ryan Fagan (@ryanfagan) October 28, 2020
And, predictably, it went south quickly. Betts doubled on a 2-0 count, chasing Barnes to third. Barnes then scored on a wild pitch by Anderson, with Betts moving up to third. Betts then scored on a fielder’s choice grounder by Corey Seager. Just like that, two batters after Snell departed, the Dodgers owned a 2-1 lead. That proved to be enough in Los Angeles’ victory.
1. Wait, what about Justin Turner?
Just a couple minutes after the final out, news broke that Turner, who had been mysteriously removed from the game in the seventh, tested positive for COVID-19. That answered the “What happened to Turner?” question, but it raised so many more questions. Like, when did MLB know? Shouldn’t MLB have stopped the game? What would have happened if the Rays had won and forced a Game 7? Would everyone have had to quarantine?
Here’s how it went down, apparently.
1/MLB was alerted by its lab in the 2nd inning that Justin Turner’s test from Monday had come back inconclusive for COVID-19. So MLB asked its Utah lab to run both that sample again and the sample from today. The sample from today was positive. So MLB alerted #Dodgers head
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) October 28, 2020
2/of baseball operations Andrew Friedman to have Turner pulled from the game. There was not a consideration to halt the game, since MLB had a similar situation earlier this year with the #Reds Nick Senzel and had him pulled and continued the game. The #Dodgers were asked to mask
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) October 28, 2020
Remember, it had been six weeks since the last positive COVID test for MLB, so for it to happen DURING Game 6 of the World Series was truly shocking.