Toronto Blue Jays not to blame for Federal Government rejection

Toronto Blue Jays. (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images)
Toronto Blue Jays. (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images) /

The Federal government’s decision to reject home games in Canada for the Toronto Blue Jays pertains to the COVID-19 situation in the United States.

The Toronto Blue Jays were always facing an uphill battle to be allowed to play home games at Rogers Centre this season. And while they did everything possible to make this preference a reality, their bid ultimately failed on Saturday.

As reported by David Cochrane of CBC Sports, the Federal government rejected the Blue Jays’ plan to play MLB games in Toronto during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In the process, the decision spoke volumes about how worrying the situation is right now in the United States.

While Canada has done a good job of containing the spread of the coronavirus, the United States has continued to see a rise in positive cases and deaths in comparison. Of particular concern and relevance to the Blue Jays, there has been a significant spike in Florida.

The Blue Jays are scheduled to make three road trips to Florida this year, including two to Tampa Bay and one to Miami. In addition, the Rays and Marlins would have both traveled to Toronto if home games had been allowed at Rogers Centre.

In the end, the Federal Government could not justify regular border-crossing trips during the 2020 MLB season, even with a reduced number of games. The risk were just too great when considering the available scientific information, along with the general health and safety of Canadians.

As per Cochrane, the Blue Jays had done everything possible to persuade the Federal Government otherwise, including revising their quarantine plan. The ball club initially wanted to allow their players to live in their homes or in-season residences, but modified this proposal to staying in a hotel connected to Rogers Centre.

Hopes were raised when the plan was approval by the Ontario government. However, the Federal government saw otherwise and with good reason.

It was one thing to approve the NHL’s proposal, to play games in Toronto and Edmonton. After all, the players and staff will be isolated from the general public for the duration of the play-in games and playoffs.

More importantly, there will be no continually crossing the border. Teams will remain in Canada for the duration of their stay, only leaving once their respective seasons have finished.

As reported by USA Today, the closure of the US-Canada border has been extended again due to the surge of COVID-19 cases in the United States, this time until Aug. 20. To make an exception for MLB teams for what is non-essential travel, would have been perceived as a slap in the face to many.

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As with many people, we would have loved to see professional baseball being play in Toronto, despite the fact fans won’t be allowed at stadiums for the 2020 season. However, we totally support the Federal government’s decision; this is bigger than sports and there is just too much to risk.

Both the Blue Jays and Toronto Mayor John Tory released statements essentially saying they respected the decision. Now the team must look at alternative arrangements for home games this season, with Buffalo representing one potential option.

Marco Mendicino, the minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship, did present one scenario where the Blue Jays could play games in Toronto this year. As per Cochrane, Mendicino said the government is willing to restart plans if the ball club makes the playoffs and the risk of the virus spreading has subsided.

Of course, we appreciate the Blue Jays are not among the favourites to advance to the postseason, even with a vastly reduced schedule of games. However, if there was ever a year for the unlikely to happen, it’s 2020.

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Do you agree or disagree with the Federal government’s decision, and why? Regardless, where do you predict the Toronto Blue Jays will play home games for the 2020 regular season? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.