3- Pandemic problems
While I wanted to keep this entire article on the positive side, I thought I would address something that could end up being an issue again in 2022. That’s the fact that the Blue Jays are the only MLB team that plays outside of the United States.
The ongoing pandemic presented plenty of issues in 2021, including the fact that the Jays weren’t able to start hosting games at their real home field until July 30th. Prior to that the Blue Jays hadn’t received approval from the Federal Government of Canada to sidestep some of the rules, which was required to get themselves and their opponents across the border in the midst of a busy MLB schedule. There was no time for quarantine for the players when they had to get the games done and get back on the road for their next series.
As things stand right now, the Canadian government will no longer make exceptions for professional sports teams, which means that any unvaccinated players will not be able to participate in games played at the Rogers Centre next season. Regardless of whether unvaccinated individuals will be allowed to cross the border at all by the time next season rolls around, a likely quarantine period for them makes it a moot point anyway. That said, it is an ever-evolving situation to be sure.
I’m sure this has been an issue that the Blue Jays’ front office has had to address as they’ve looked to sign free agents and make trades ahead of next season. I don’t know this for certain, but I would think that acquiring an unvaccinated player is pretty much off the table completely.
While the Jays might be able to navigate this, how are other teams going to feel about the whole thing? It makes me wonder how long it will take before a player, manager, or even a reporter will suggest that this is an “unfair advantage” for the Blue Jays if some of their opponents have to leave stars at home. To be fair, I suppose it could work that way depending on how many impact players aren’t yet vaccinated, but that’s hardly the fault of the Blue Jays.
In a worst case scenario, I hope that it’s not a widespread enough problem for the MLBPA to feel like they need to speak up. I’m hopeful that the Blue Jays will be able to play their home games in Toronto next season, even if North America is currently dealing with the Omicron variant, which has impacted the NBA and NHL quite a bit in recent weeks. Regardless of if that variant is still hanging around, or if the next one has come along by then, I suspect that the Blue Jays will still have some sort of pandemic issues to navigate in 2022. That just seems to be the reality of the world we live in these days.