The bizarre ending to the MLB season is fitting for 2020

Create: 2020-10-28
Update: 2020-10-28
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Wednesday, October 28, 2020
Sigh... no Game 7 to look forward to tonight, my friend. Football now stands alone as the only major sport still in action. 
The Dodgers squashed our dream of a do-or-die Game 7 last night (perhaps with a little help from Kevin Cash) when they won the World Series with a Game 6 victory over the Rays. There is PLENTY to talk about from what went down as the season came to a close -- some of it good, some of it very dumb and unfortunate -- so there's no point in dilly dallying this morning. We've got a lot to get to.
Hopefully our recap this morning will go a little smoother than Rob Manfred's postgame speech did last night. 
📰 What you need to know
1. Dodgers finally end their World Series drought 🏆
Well, they did it... the Dodgers got to the World Series and they actually WON it. They took Game 6 last night, beating the Rays 3-1 to earn a 4-2 series victory -- earning their first title since 1988.
And it was, uh, an interesting night of baseball and for baseball, for several different reasons. Let's stick with the game for now... here are a few big takeaways:
  • Blake Snell was dominant: The Rays started Snell as they looked to force a Game 7 and their ace had his best stuff. He was in Cy Young form and dominated the Dodgers' lineup through 5 1/3 innings, holding them to two hits and no walks while striking out nine. He allowed almost no hard contact at all. That sound good, right? Well...
  • Kevin Cash gave Snell a quick hook and it backfired: Despite Snell's dominance, Rays manager Kevin Cash decided to pull him from the game after No. 9 hitter Austin Barnes singled in the 6th inning. Snell had only thrown 73 pitches at the time he got the yank. It seemed pretty clear that Cash didn't want the Dodgers lineup to see him a third time around, but the decision backfired when LA put two runs on the board after seeing just six pitches from Nick Anderson
  • The Dodgers' bullpen came up huge: LA starter Tony Gonsolin struggled a bit and only mustered five outs before being yanked. (He gave up a solo home run to -- who else? -- Randy Arozarena.) From there, six Dodgers relievers held the Rays to two hits in 7 1/3 scoreless innings while striking out 12. Julio Urias retired the final seven batters
Unfortunately for Rays fans, they're always going to have to wonder if things would have been different had Cash let Snell stay on the mound. Analytics have helped the Rays immensely and they probably wouldn't have been in the World Series without Cash sticking to guns, but you have to trust your best players. I would have let it ride with my Cy Young caliber pitcher throwing a masterpiece. Then again, things probably end poorly for you regardless of who's on the mound if you only score one run against the Dodgers.
In any case, congratulations are in order. Congrats to the Dodgers for finally exorcising their postseason demons. Congratulations to Clayton Kershaw, who finally gets his ring and an escape from the narrative that his legacy is tarnished by lack of postseason success. Congratulations to Mookie Betts, who not only got his bag but also a second ring in his first year in LA. Congratulations to Corey Seager, who took home World Series MVP after a phenomenal postseason. (I still think it should have went to Arozarena even in defeat, but oh well.) 
It's also worth congratulating the Rays, who can still be proud of an incredible run and look forward to the bright future ahead of them. Now to the insanity that ensued after the game!
2. Justin Turner tests positive for COVID-19, but celebrates with Dodgers after win ⚾
Things got pretty weird immediately after the Dodgers recorded the final out to clinch the title. First, we learned via a breaking news update that Justin Turner had tested positive for coronavirus DURING the game, which is why he was pulled in the 8th inning.
So, how exactly did that happen during a game? It's a fair question to ask, and here's what we know so far about the timeline:
  • Turner had a test from Monday come back inconclusive during the second inning of Tuesday's game
  • Following the inconclusive result, the lab expedited Turner's test from Tuesday and alerted MLB when it came back positive
  • The Dodgers were instructed to pull Turner from the game and isolate him
  • Turner, who said he was asymptomatic, returned to the field and was carrying around the trophy while celebrating and hugging teammates. He removed his mask to take a team picture on the diamond
While it's incredibly unfortunate that Turner's positive COVID-19 test came down just before the peak of his professional career and a celebration that he's been waiting for his entire life, it's a terrible look for MLB that he was allowed to return to the field. It's pretty irresponsible and selfish on Turner's part -- especially considering his manager is a cancer survivor, he's got a teammate with a heart condition and there were kids and family members involved in the celebration -- but it also showed that the league didn't actually take their own protocols seriously. 
Also, isn't it a bit weird that the previous day's test results weren't coming through until after first pitch? And should Turner have been pulled out as a precautionary measure in the second inning after his initial test came back inconclusive? (For what it's worth, Ken Rosenthal reported that the initial test was also a positive.)
There was a lot to process and monitor immediately after the final out and it's a bummer that there was sort of a dark cloud over the celebration, especially after MLB nearly completed an entire postseason run without any COVID-19 issues. (Turner was the first positive test.) Now, everyone just has to hope that Turner stays in good health and that the virus wasn't spread to anyone else.
3. Our latest NFL Power Rankings 🏈
We've got some time to kill before NFL Week 8 gets underway with Falcons-Panthers tomorrow night so why don't we use that time to do a wellness check on every team around the league? Pete Prisco's weekly Power Rankings came out yesterday and there are takeaways to be had from his new set of rankings:
  • Steelers (No. 1) and Ravens (No. 3) headline this weekend's slate: Two of Prisco's top three teams go head-to-head this weekend and it's also a pretty significant rivalry game. Pittsburgh and Baltimore have been impressive on both sides of the ball so far this year and the Steelers will look to remain the league's last unbeaten team
  • Buccaneers (No. 5) continue to rise: Tom Brady has led his new squad into the top five as they jump two spots following an impressive victory against a tough Raiders team. They're in an intriguing spot right now with an upward trajectory and Antonio Brown on the way. Will they keep rising the ranks?
  • Bears (No. 14) suffer the week's biggest slip: This one shouldn't come as much of a surprise. People were skeptical of Chicago as they headed into Week with a 5-1 record and a chance to hold the NFC's top seed. But they were completely exposed with a stinker on MNF and now they've dropped eight spots
My Patriots continue to fall (down four spots to No. 20 this week) and I can't even be mad at Prisco about it. They stink right now and I have to agree with his assessment that this weekend's tilt against the Bills feels like "a major win-or-else game." New England facing a must-win game on November 1? This place is weird and I hate it.
For the full set of Prisco's Power Rankings, head here.
4. Champions League roundup: Real Madrid wakes up late, forces draw ⚽
Another week of Champions League action is upon us, as Matchday 2 got underway yesterday. If you're looking for a couple of notable takeaways, our Sandra Herrera has you covered:
  • Casemiro came up huge for Real Madrid: Real Madrid faced Borussia Monchengladbach yesterday and they came dangerously close to suffering a second consecutive UCL group stage loss. After falling into a 2-0 hole, Madrid got goals in 87th minute and in stoppage time to force a 2-2 draw. The equalizer came from Casemiro
  • Man City is dominating: Manchester City may have gotten off to a slow start in the Premier League but their Champions League experience is going well so far. They made easy work of Marseille away from home, beating the French club 3-0. City got a 3-1 win over Porto last week
  • Bayern Munich wins again: It wasn't one of the lopsided scorelines that we've come to expect from Bayern but they still got a 2-1 victory over Lokomotiv Moscow on Tuesday
We've got another big day of Champions League ahead of us today, and here's a valuable reminder that you can stream all of the matches via CBS All-Access. It's about all we've got for major sports today, so fill up.
📝 Odds & Ends
  • Former Jets QB (remember that?) Tim Tebow has advice for Trevor Lawrence if New York gets the No. 1 pick: "Try to evaluate everything and look at it with open eyes"
  • The Atlanta Hawks are reportedly shopping their No. 6 pick in the upcoming draft
  • The Carolina Panthers released former top-10 pick Eli Apple after he left practice with a hamstring injury
📺 What to watch tonight
Juventus vs. Barcelona, 4:00 p.m. | BAR +155 | TV: CBSAA
Manchester United vs. RB Leipzig, 4:00 p.m. | MAN U +135 | TV: CBSAA
📝 Top scores from last night
Dodgers 3, Rays 1
Mookie Betts had a double, a home run and two runs scored in the clinching Game 6.
💵 Winning Wagers: LAD -123, Under (8.5)
 
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