The Blue Jays are coming back but unvaxxed players won't be welcome in Toronto
Blue Jays fans are rejoicing at the news that the 2021–22 Major League Baseball lockout is coming to an end, and there will in fact be baseball this spring. But even as some federal and provincial public health mandates are lifted, unvaccinated ball players will not be appearing at the Rogers Centre any time soon.
Sportsnet reported this week that MLB players who haven't received COVID-19 vaccinations will not be playing in Toronto, due to the ongoing federal law prohibiting entry for unvaccinated persons, including players of local and visiting sports teams.
According to reports, players who have yet to be inoculated will instead be forced onto a restricted list, similar to teams' disabled lists or injured reserve lists, the main difference being these restricted players won't make a cent for games they miss.
Veteran @mlb player tells me and an MLB Official confirms. … unvaccinated players can’t play in Canada and under new CBA they will not be paid or receive service time for those games missed in Canada #wcvb— Duke Castiglione (@DukeCastiglione) March 11, 2022
But it isn't just visiting teams who could be shorthanded, as there are unconfirmed claims that not all of the Blue Jays players are vaccinated. The team is reportedly pursuing "modified quarantine rules" for unvaccinated players, possibly including members of the Jays.
A few on Twitter have commented that this could come back and slap the Jays in the face, speculating that one of the team's stars might not be vaccinated. Though some aren't buying that narrative.
So what do the #bluejays do about Bichette if he really isn't vaxxed? Can't come to Canada! Is this another Irving situation?— Stephen Beale (@tkb24) March 11, 2022
These restrictions could pose a problem for AL East division rivals like the Red Sox when regular season play begins in April, that team's ace Chris Sale admitting in September that he hadn't at that time received any vaccine doses.
Most likely, and I hope it does. I’d love to see guys like Sale pitching at Rogers centre, but people saying they shouldn’t get home games because of it… pisses me off. Most players are vaxxed.— Zach Marshall (@MarshaIIZach) March 11, 2022
It's been an issue in other sports, most notably with Kyrie Irving of the NBA's Brooklyn Nets, who has appeared in just 18 of the team's 67 games as of Mar. 11 due to his unvaxxed status.
The mere mention of pandemic-related restrictions is always enough to draw the ire of the "freedom" crowd, though there were a few attempts to explain the situation to riled-up Americans.
It’s not just baseball players. It’s hockey players and basketball players. Soccer players. Plus unvaccinated Canadians can’t enter the states right now and that’s in effect till at least April 22— Ryan Murphy (@RMurph103) March 11, 2022
The current stadium policy reads, "As the public health situation evolves, Rogers Centre is following the latest health and safety guidelines from the Province of Ontario."
This essentially means that players and fans won't be held to the same standards. Vaccine passports expired at the start of March, opening up sporting events to masses of unvaxxed fans, while unvaxxed players and fans are still restricted from entering the country.
Regardless of restrictions, most fans are just happy for a full season of baseball in Toronto for the first time since 2019, after seeing the Jays split time in Florida and Buffalo before returning to Canada last summer.
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