Baseball: unvaccinated players can face the Blue Jays at home
The end of Canada’s COVID-19 border restrictions means business is back to business as usual for Major League Baseball and the Toronto Blue Jays, just in time for the playoffs.
Pandemic rules, which expire Oct. 1, have prevented unvaccinated players from playing Canada’s only MLB team at home.
“Previous vaccination laws prevented many teams from bringing their full rosters to Toronto, which benefited the Blue Jays to the extent that other teams either had to rely on inexperienced players in a full-time role or opposing teams had to restructure their rotations accordingly, » Tyson Shushkewich, co-editor of the Jays Journal fan site, told CTVNews.ca.
The affected players were put on the shortlist, which essentially means they were excused from the games but not paid. While this typically only affects a few players for most teams during the 2022 season, the Jays’ advantage was clear in July when 10 members of the Kansas City Royals skipped a four-game series in Toronto, which the Jays won 3-1.
Unlike the Blue Jays, the Royals are not in contention for this year’s playoffs, which begin Oct. 7. The Jays, who currently lead the race for a wildcard spot in the American League, were MLB champions in 1992 and 1993. They last won a postseason game in 2016.
« There are a few unvaccinated players on playoff teams who wouldn’t have been able to come to Toronto under the previous rules, » Cameron Lewis, editor of fansite Blue Jays Nation, told CTVNews.ca. « The only one who is really a standout player is Robbie Ray of the Seattle Mariners. »
The left-handed pitcher was with the Jays for part of 2020 and the entire 2021 season, when he won the Cy Young Award as the top pitcher in the American League. In the ensuing offseason, Ray signed a five-year contract with the Mariners; Lewis thinks his vaccination status may have played a role. As a sailor, Ray skipped a three-game series in Toronto in May; the Jays won two games. When the teams met again in Seattle in July, the Mariners swept the Jays in four games.
« Having to face Ray would be tough because he’s become one of the Mariners’ best arms in a very strong rotation, » Shushkewich explained. « Ray has also spent the last 1.5 seasons with the Jays, which would be a great game to watch, but could be difficult for Jays hitters given his familiarity with the Jays roster and having pitched very well at the Rogers Center. »
Due to Canadian pandemic restrictions, the Toronto Blue Jays also spent 2020 and much of 2021 playing at home in Dunedin, Florida, and Buffalo, NY, before returning to their Rogers Center roost on July 30. 2021 – 670 days after their last game. in Toronto.
« It was a disadvantage in that the club couldn’t play in front of a home crowd compared to their counterparts and often had a good number of opposing fans in their dedicated home games, » added Shushkewich.
The lifting of restrictions also means the Jays have more freedom to sign and trade for unvaccinated players.
« A lot of people have said the border rules have been a plus for the Blue Jays all season because some teams have to leave some players behind, but it’s actually been a bit of a disadvantage for them because it added another hurdle to who they were. can acquire, » Lewis explained. « With the rule removed, the Blue Jays will be able to sign free agents, trade players, etc., normally regardless of who can and cannot cross the border. »