After defeating the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ championship drought is finally over. Dodgers fans are celebrating for the first time since Orel Hershiser, Kirk Gibson and Tommy Lasorda brought home the Commissioner’s Trophy in 1988. The Dodgers have won seven titles overall, still falling behind the New York Yankees (27), St. Louis Cardinals (11), Boston Red Sox (nine), Oakland Athletics (nine) and San Francisco Giants (eight).
The long awaited—32 years to be exact—championship came during the pandemic. Globe Life Field in Arlington, TX, was peppered with predominantly Dodgers fans watching in awe.
The Rays had a 1-0 lead, courtesy of a Randy Arozarena first inning home run. Arozarena’s valiant efforts were soon wasted. It was the Rays’s manager Kevin Cash’s decision that instantly became one of the worst managerial blunders in World Series History. Cash decided to pull ace Blake Snell in the sixth inning. Snell was their 2018 Cy Young award winner, who was putting on a great performance; giving up only his second single of the game with one out, having struck out nine batters, and having thrown just 73 pitches. The top of the Dodgers’ lineup—Mookie Betts, Corey Seager, Justin Turner and Max Muncy—were hitless in eight at-bats with seven strikeouts. For the first time in the season, Betts, Seager and Turner struck out twice in the same game, all against one pitcher. Yet, Cash walked to the mound and the fresh pitcher, Nick Anderson, greatly paid the price.
With Anderson pitching for Tampa, Betts doubled, advancing Austin Barnes to third. A wild pitch from Anderson brought Barnes home as Betts moved to third. One play later, Betts with an easy slide to homebase scored the go-ahead run on a fielder’s choice hit by Seager. The Dodgers were now up 2-1 and with Betts homering in the eighth inning and they never looked back. After Arozarena hit Tony Gonsolin’s 84-mph slider into the right-field seats the Rays couldn’t produce another run.
Following the Dodgers’ victory over the Tampa Bay Rays, Corey Seager was named Most Valuable Player of the 2020 World Series. He scored a series-best seven runs and drove in five more, while batting 400/.538/.700 in Games two and four. He also played hitless in game six. Seager is now the eighth player ever to win LCS and World Series MVP honors in the same season.
Although the Dodgers won, that night wasn’t perfect. Turner put a damper on the end-of-season celebrations, as he was removed from the middle of Game six after receiving a positive COVID-19 test.
After presenting Corey Seager with the World Series Most Valuable Player Award, and before Turner was seen celebrating on the field, Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said during an interview with Fox, “It’s a bittersweet night for us. We’re glad to be done,” Manfred continued. “I do think it’s a great accomplishment for our players to get this season completed, but obviously we’re concerned when any of our players test positive. We learned during the game that Justin was positive and immediately isolated him to prevent the spread.”
Turner has been with the Dodgers since 2014, but was still hastily replaced before the start of the eighth inning of the 3-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays. Once the Dodgers knew of their winning, they took onto the on-field and celebrated while wearing masks. Turner thanked those who reached out to him, on Twitter.
“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,” Turner wrote.
Minutes later, Turner was spotted back on the field with his teammates and wife; holding the trophy, kissing his wife and mingling. While he was wearing a mask at first, Fox broadcast found him taking off his mask while taking the team’s group photo with the trophy.
He sat maskless between Manager Dave Roberts and Andrew Friedman, the team’s president of baseball operations, for the group photo.
On the topic of Turner, Friedman stated,“For him, just being a free agent, not knowing exactly how the future is going to play out, I don’t think there was anyone that was going to stop him,” Friedman said. Later stating that the decision wasn’t solely up to Turner.
“It wasn’t up to Justin,” he said. “I think Justin wanted to come out and take a picture of the trophy, and did.”
Betts also spoke to reporters on a video call, dismissing concerns, “Forget all that,” Betts said. “He’s part of the team. We’re not excluding him from anything.”
The pandemic truly caused an unorthodox season for the Dodgers. In spite of it all, they were finally able to finish what they started 32 years in the making — as the best baseball team of 2020 winning the 116th World Series.