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The Offseason — Forget All That

February 14, 2021

Hugh Atkins

It has been an eventful offseason for Major League Baseball, but from my perspective it has not been a positive one. The controversy began before the crowd even got into the aisles at Globe Life Field after the final out of the World Series, and things went downhill in the weeks that followed.

Justin Turner of the Los Angeles Dodgers set the tone for the offseason at the end of Game 6 by coming back onto the field to celebrate his team’s World Series win, despite having left the game after seven innings because he tested positive for COVID-19. Turner was supposed to be in isolation, but he decided to go out and mingle with his teammates, spending much of his time celebrating without a mask.

The next day I read a quote from Mookie Betts in USA Today that goes a long way to explain why we have had such a difficult time getting through this pandemic. When asked about Turner being on the field, Betts said, “Forget all that, he’s part of the team. We’re not excluding him from anything.”

Too many people have taken a “forget all that” attitude to the pandemic, saying things like:

“Forget all that. It’s my baby’s first birthday. We’re not cancelling the party.”

“Forget all that. My baby is getting married. We’re not cancelling the ceremony.”

“Forget all that. I’m going to hang out in the bar with my jackass buddies.”

Despite plenty of tough talk immediately after Game 6, MLB decided to take no action against Turner or the Dodgers for their blatant disregard for the COVID-19 protocols.

The offseason optics did not improve from there. Turner’s mask was barely in the wastebasket before A.J. Hinch and Alex Cora had managerial jobs, thanks to the Detroit Tigers and Boston Red Sox. You remember Hinch and Cora? They lost their jobs in the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal. Even though MLB suspended them for one season, I thought perhaps owners and general managers would impose a longer, unofficial period of banishment before these two ne’er do wells were back in the dugout.

Three weeks after the Series came another black eye. MLB announced the suspension of Robinson Canó of the New York Mets for the entire 2021 season after he tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs. Canó will be well over 39 years old when he is eligible to return to the field. Perhaps the Tigers or the Red Sox will need a second baseman around that time.

Less than a week after the Canó suspension, Mexican authorities arrested 2020 postseason superman Randy Arozarena of the Tampa Bay Rays in relation to a situation involving the custody of his daughter. Arozarena got out of the hoosegow two days later when his former partner decided not to press charges.

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The bad news just kept coming with the deaths of four members of the Baseball Hall of Fame and another player many fans believe also should be there.

Dick Allen passed away on December 7, and then Hall of Famers Phil Niekro (December 26), Tommy Lasorda (January 7),  Don Sutton (January 18), and Henry Aaron (January 22) passed away in rapid succession.

To be fair, all the offseason news hasn’t been bad. MLB will not adopt the universal designated hitter and will not expand the playoffs to 14 teams; the Baseball Writers Association of America did not vote Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens into the Hall of Fame.

Teams will begin reporting to Spring Training in about a month, and the season is set to begin on April 1, so there is always room for optimism.

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