Written By: Olivia Sothoron
The Los Angeles Dodgers wrapped up their 60-game season by claiming the World Series title after beating the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 in the sixth game of the best-of-seven series. Down 1-0 heading into the bottom of the sixth inning, Los Angeles’ catcher, Austin Barnes, scored on a wild pitch followed shortly by right fielder Mookie Betts, scoring on a fielder’s choice by shortstop Corey Seager, giving the Dodgers a 2-1 lead over the Rays. The Dodgers franchise now boasts seven World Series titles, with their previous title coming from their win in 1988 against the New York Mets.
2020 has presented challenges for all aspects of life, including in the realm of professional sports. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Major League Baseball’s (MLB) season was pushed back from a March start date to July, which meant that the 60-game season would turn out to be a sprint, rather than a marathon. The Dodgers picked up numerous additions before the 2020 season, including pitchers Blake Treinen, Alex Wood, and Jake McGee–who was picked up after being released by the Colorado Rockies in July. In addition to these new bullpen contenders, the Dodgers picked up Mookie Betts, a stud outfielder and productive hitter from the Boston Red Sox. Betts scored both the go-ahead run in the Dodgers’ championship game and added on an insurance run with a solo homerun shot in the bottom of the eighth.
The Dodgers took advantage of a pitching change in the bottom of the sixth inning when Rays manager Kevin Cash pulled Blake Snell, the Rays’ ace who boasts a 3.24 career earned run average after giving up a single to Austin Barnes. Barnes’ hit was followed by a double by Betts, putting two runners in scoring position. Nick Anderson, who replaced Snell on the mound, gave up both the tying run and the go-ahead run, costing the Rays the lead for the rest of the game.
Although this is their first title in 32 years, the Dodgers have made three World Series appearances in the past four years. Los Angeles Manager Dave Roberts said in an interview with CNN: “I had a crazy feeling that came to fruition. It’s just a special group of players, organization, just all that we’ve kind of overcome, I just knew that we weren’t going to be denied this year.” Roberts has managed the Dodgers since 2016, and accompanied his team on World Series appearances in 2017, 2018 and 2020, where they emerged victorious.
COVID-19 tainted the 2020 MLB season and these fears remained inescapable even during the final game of the World Series. Heading into the top of the eighth, the Dodgers defense indicated that something was wrong by the shifts in the players’ positions. Edwin Rios entered into the game playing third base and batting eighth in the lineup, replacing Joc Pederson; Chris Taylor shifted from second base to left field; Enrique Hernandez entered the game batting third in the lineup, replacing Justin Turner at third base. Turner disappeared from the dugout and rumors started to emerge about an injury. After the Dodgers’ victory, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred confirmed that Turner had received a positive COVID-19 test, which is why he had been pulled from the game.
Turner had been asked to self-isolate after receiving his positive results, however, nobody prevented him from rejoining his team to celebrate the victory. World Series MVP Corey Seager told ESPN that Turner’s positive result is “gut-wrenching… It hurts me. I can’t imagine how he feels. If I could switch places with him right now, I would, because that man more than anybody deserves to take a picture with that trophy, celebrate with us, have his family around and enjoy this moment, and that got taken away from him, and that’s not right. That doesn’t sit well with me.”
However, Turner’s COVID-19 test results were not the only positive part of the night, as the Dodgers players and families celebrated their hard-fought victories throughout an unprecedented 2020 season.