The end of Canada’s COVID-19 border restrictions means it will be back to business as usual for Major League Baseball and the Toronto Blue Jays, in time for the knockout stages.
The pandemic rules, which expire on October 1, have prevented unvaccinated players from facing Canada’s only MLB team at home.
“Previous vaccination laws have prevented many teams from bringing their entire roster to Toronto, which benefits the Blue Jays in that other teams have to rely on inexperienced players in full-time or senior roles. opposing teams must restructure their rotation accordingly,” Tyson Shushkewich, co-editor of fan site Jays Journal, told CTVNews.ca.
Affected players have been blacklisted, which essentially means they are exempt from participating in games but not getting paid. While this typically affects only a few players for most teams in the 2022 season, the Jays’ advantage was apparent 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 a contender in this year’s knockouts, which start on October 7. The Jays, who are currently leading the race for an American League wild card slot , were MLB champions in 1992 and 1993. They last won a game after the 2016 season.
Cameron Lewis, editor-in-chief of fan site Blue Jays Nation, told CTVNews.ca: “There are a few unvaccinated players on the playoff teams that won’t be able to go to Toronto under the previous rules. “The only one who is really a standout player is Robbie Ray of the Seattle Mariners.”
The left-hander has been with the Jays for part of 2020 and the entire 2021 season, when he won the Cy Young Award as the American League’s top pitcher. In the following season, Ray signed a five-year contract with the Mariners; Lewis believes his vaccination status may play a role. As a Mariner, Ray skipped a series of three games in Toronto in May; Jays won two games. When the two teams met again in Seattle in July, the Mariners beat the Jays in four games.
Shushkewich explains: “Facing Ray will be a challenge, as he has become one of the Mariners’ top arms amid a very strong spin. “Ray has also spent the last 1.5 seasons with the Jays, which will be an excellent game to watch but one that could be tough for Jays fans as he’s used to the Jays lineup. and played really well at the Rogers Center.”
Due to Canada’s pandemic restrictions, the Toronto Blue Jays also spend all of 2020 and much of 2021 playing home games in Dunedin, Fla. And Buffalo, NY, before returning to their Rogers Center on July 30, 2021 – 670 days after their last game in Toronto.
Shushkewich added: “It is a disadvantage that the club cannot play in front of a home crowd compared to their counterparts and sometimes there is a large number of fans who strongly oppose during their home matches. them,” added Shushkewich.
The lifting of restrictions also means the Jays have more freedom of signing and trading for unvaccinated players.
“Many people have said that the border rules have been an advantage for the Blue Jays throughout the season as some teams have had to leave some players behind, but it’s actually been a disadvantage for them because it adds another setback for the people they can get,” Lewis explains. “With the vanishing rule, the Blue Jays will be able to continue to sign free agents, trade for players, etc., normally without worrying about who can and cannot cross the border.”