COVID-19 crashes World Series to usher in uncertain offseason

For about a minute, it seemed like Major League Baseball seasons were roughly 102 games too long.

The World Series brought the best team in the American League to play the best team in the National League, and the better of those two teams won in a close and entertaining six games. More conveniently, one of the game’s biggest stars put his team ahead with some brilliant baserunning, then put the game away with a solo shot.

The Dodgers, after being beat in two World Series by teams whose managers were fired due to their involvement in a sign-stealing scandal, ended up getting the ring they might have deserved years earlier. Maybe it doesn’t register the same as a traditional March-October journey, but considering they had the best shot of any team to win the 2020 World Series before the pandemic shut everything down, it didn’t seem like anything was truly lost in the abridged season.

And then we learned that Justin Turner, who left the game in the eighth inning for undisclosed reasons, did so because his COVID-19 test came back positive. There are so many questions, and the first attempt at answering it failed to satisfy.

It doesn’t answer why this was the best they could do with all the time afforded by an off day followed by a night game, and the only game in the sport. It doesn’t answer why the on-field celebration was allowed to proceed as though nothing happened. And everybody is going to wonder what would’ve happened if the Rays somehow forced a Game 7.

The one hope was that Turner’s test threw a false positive, although given that it’s the only tidy conclusion amid a whole bunch of awful ones. It would’ve been hard to trust that report without any other verification, and according to Ken Rosenthal, it’s not the case anyway. In fact, he goes further and says that Turner’s first test was not inconclusive, but positive.

As it stands, it’s within the realm of possibility that the 2020 Major League Baseball season ended with a super-spreader event. That’s a little much. I could accept the best teams playing and the best teams winning despite the shortened season and extended postseason introducing a greater-than-ever chance of complete randomness, but the Chekhov’s gun-assed last-minute COVID-19 result is just too on-the-nose to take any of this seriously.

* * * * * * * * *

Regardless, the World Series is over, so the offseason is officially here. Here are the important dates to note through the rest of this cursed calendar year.

Today: Players on expiring deals become free agents, and A.J. Hinch and Alex Cora can officially interview for their next major-league jobs.

Nov. 1: The deadline for exercising or declining options and extending the qualifying offer, after which free agents can sign with any team.

Nov. 2: We’ll see where José Abreu, Luis Robert and Rick Renteria stand as the finalists are announced for Most Valuable Player, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year and Manager of the Year awards.

Nov. 3: We’ll see whether four of the five White Sox nominated for Gold Gloves have sealed the deal (with two catchers, one of them will be left out of the fun by default).

Nov. 9: Rookie the Year winners announced.

Nov. 10: Manager of the Year winners announced.

Nov. 11: Cy Young winners announced.

Nov. 12: MVP winners announced.

Nov. 20: Deadline for adding players to the 40-man roster in order to protect them from the Rule 5 draft.

Dec. 2: The deadline to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players arrives.

Dec. 6: Winter Meetings start, form to be determined.

(Photo by Chris Martin)

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Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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mikeyb

If Kevin Cash is so opposed to using Blake Snell late into games, Sox should offer him a couple of relievers for Snell. Bummer and Crochet for Snell, get it done Rick.

roke1960

I’m waiting for a team to hire IBM Watson as their next manager. That was one of the stupidest moves I’ve ever seen. And that’s not second guessing- I said that as soon as he yanked him. His plan was to remove him after 2 times thru the order no matter what. Isn’t a manager’s job to manage the GAME, not just go by the book all the time? Anyone could see Snell was nearly unhittable, but the analytics say pull him so the robot Cash did. Give me a good old school manager who supplements his analytics with an actual brain.

mrridgman

Maybe worse than pulling Snell, he put in Anderson, who was scored on for the 7th consecutive postseason appearance. I don’t care how well he pitched during the season, don’t you have to look at more recent stats and say, “Hmm”?

asinwreck

Chekhov’s gun-assed

Stealing this one. Perfectly worded for the context.

Eagle Bones

If I was one of those other players who came into contact with him after they knew he was positive, I’d be pretty furious right now. I’m assuming they’re all now going to have to quarantine from their families again? He should not have been allowed to make that decision for himself and for everyone he came into contact with. Tough to ask someone to sit out the celebration for something they’re been working towards their whole career, but everyone’s health is more important than a champagne shower and a team picture.

joewho112

Quarantine with their families. They had their families on the field. I’d be fuming if some dumbass exposed my wife and kids to COVID just so he could take a fucking picture.

itaita

You cant assume how they felt. He was a pretty important member of that team and had been there for years. It wouldn’t shock me if a bunch of the players said fuck it and let him on the field to celebrate with them.

joewho112

I’m not assuming anything. I am saying I would be upset about it

Eagle Bones

Maybe I’m missing a report, but it doesn’t sound like anyone got any input on whether he was allowed to do this other than himself (or even given a heads up he tested positive for that matter).

MrStealYoBase

You forgot a few more key dates:

November 5: Manfred and Clark meet under the guise that they’re working out a contingency plan for a limited-attendance 2021. The two sides are “hopeful” they can work out a deal before the free agency market stalls any further.

November 6: Talks break down after it leaks that the owners asked the players to accept 15% of their fully guaranteed contractual salaries citing the harm to their financial wellbeing that the 20% decline in 2020 profits caused.

November 7: Players take to Twitter to call out owners. Trevor Bauer says he will not play for any owner that would try to force players to take pay cuts to protect profits. His agent frantically makes 30 phone calls.

November 8: White Sox announce Tony LaRussa as the next manager. He wastes no time denouncing Kevin Cash’s World Series and the entire field of “math” in his introductory press conference.

November 9-February 5: Literally nothing happens.

February 6: Hahn announces the signing of Shelby Miller to a 1 year deal w/club option to bolster the pitching staff. Says team is staying put otherwise citing satisfaction with internal options for other positions and desire to not block any young players from developing.

Eagle Bones

This is simultaneously hilarious and frightening as it’s way to close to what could be reality.

Josh Nelson

What a fun winter you have planned for us.

Yolmer's gatorade

Congrats to the Dodger, and congrats to the Coronavirus too. You da man, Rona.

dansomeone

I was starting to think that the White Sox had changed their strange ways. But, according to MLB Trade Rumors, three teams are currently seeking a new manager. The Red Sox have already interviewed seven candidates and the Tigers have interviewed twelve. The third team, the White Sox, have interviewed one person. One.
https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2020/10/2021-managerial-search-tracker.html

MrStealYoBase

I think this is less the White Sox not actually interviewing people and more the White Sox wanting to keep their cards close to their chest. I think Hahn mentioned that they weren’t going to publicize their candidates because they didn’t want to saddle anyone with the public knowing that they interviewed and didn’t get the job.

Now, if that’s the case, why was La Russa the exception to that rule? Who the hell knows.

metasox

If the Sox needed a team to grant permission to interview one of their staff, isn’t that something that could leak out? Am not sure, but the Sox may not be able to play so close to the vest.

MrStealYoBase

This is a fair point

BuehrleMan

list.

Uribe Down

Finally some sanity.

knoxfire30

Happy Tony LaRussa Day!

I kid I kid, this is crazy.

dwjm3

I think I’m done as a fan if they pick LaRussa. I won’t make a decision now I’ll let the offseason play out but hiring Tony is just insane if true.

mikeschach

So the question is: did they hint at Hinch so we wouldn’t freak over TLR or did they telegraph TLR so we wouldn’t freak at Hinch?

Foulkelore

This is a good point. I don’t know if that was part of the plan, but as I just posted, I think it’s the latter. That ends up being a nice side benefit, at the least. I’m certainly all-in on Hinch now, if La Russa was what was behind door number 2, Monte.

Foulkelore

Ok, I was angry last night when the rumors broke about the announcement today and everybody is still thinking La Russa, but I slept on it and finally pieced it together. They will announce Hinch today. The Sox wanted Hinch. They talked to Keuchel about him before going down that road (explains his excitement about what was coming when Ricky was fired). They worked back channels to put an unofficial deal in place with him. Ok, so then what? Well, they have to do two things. First, they have to fire Ricky. They could wait to do this, but right when they have the unofficial deal in place, they let him go, either as a courtesy to Ricky or just because, they might as well. The other thing they have to do is “look” for their next manager, but they already have him, but they can’t really have him until the season is over. So, what do the White Sox do? They use old friends, Bob Nightengale and Tony La Russa. La Russa has to be in on it. Nightengale can either be in on it or a puppet. They tell La Russa that they’ll say nothing but positive things about him, maybe it gets his name out there if he does want to manage again. If not, hey, good for his ego. It’s why they haven’t interviewed anybody else. Why do them the disservice when it’s fake? They plan to announce Hinch today, because game 7 could have been yesterday, so the season would be over and they can actually hire him (or wait two days after the season to make it look like they negotiated with Hinch yesterday). This is the only scenario that makes any sense.

Foulkelore

Well, damn. This didn’t age well. And I woke up so hopeful.

HouseOfTheRisingSox

I want to be in the alternate universe where your write up is the real story. Even after knowing they went with LaRussa, I somehow was with you the whole way. And actually you still might be right, but with just one more step at the end where Jerry said “fuck it, let’s go with Tony”. And they Rick was like we already got the other guy’s signature

joewho112

Question about Hinch: Could teams not talk to Hinch until after the World Series or could they just not sign him?

carbiner

Give Kolten Wong please, thanks