After more than a year and a half of waiting, the Toronto Blue Jays have been given the green light to return to Canada and it will be a triumphant one.
The Toronto Blue Jays have been away from home for far too long and in a matter of weeks, they will finally be back where they belong.
After getting the federal government’s National Interest Exemption, which will allow players to cross the border without being subject to Canada’s COVID-19 travel restrictions, Toronto can now host MLB games at Rogers Centre. This has been the major hurdle for the team as they have had to find a compromise to Canada’s border restrictions due to the pandemic.
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According to the Canadian Press, teams will go through pre- and post-arrival testing of everyone crossing the border, and additional testing four times a week for unvaccinated individuals. The first game for the Blue Jays in Toronto will come on on July 30 with a three-game homestand against the Kansas City Royals.
To think, it’s been since Sept. 29, 2019, that Toronto has played a home game in Canada. The team never made it north of the border in 2020 playing their season in Buffalo, and started this season in Dunedin, Fla., before returning to Buffalo.
Really, the only time the players have step foot in the Rogers Centre was at a brief time when the team held their pre-season camp in Toronto. It has been a slow and gruesome period for Canadian sports fans who have wanted to watch their teams live in person.
The NHL was the first league to provide a path for others to follow as the CFL and MLS were able to get the approvals needed to play games in Canada. For Blue Jays fans, this wait has been agonizing considering what they have seen over the last few seasons.
In 2020, the team took a big step forward by qualifying for the playoffs and this season, it has been more of the same. Unfortunately, whether it was Dunedin or Buffalo, it was hard for fans to get the same connection with the team south of the border.
Toronto Blue Jays: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has the chance to accomplish something special
The moment Vladimir Guerrero Jr. steps up to the plate for the first time in Toronto, it will certainly be a special moment.
Guerrero Jr. added to the excitement of Blue Jays fans hitting a pair of home runs including his 30th of the season. He is now slashing .335/.434/.677 this season and coming off an MVP award at the 2021 All-Star Game.
Many are starting to wonder if the 22-year-old can reach the Triple Crown by leading the league in batting average, home runs, and RBI. The player that currently stands in his way is Shohei Ohtani who has 33 through 85 games.
"“He’s one of the best players in baseball,” manager Charlie Montoyo said after the game to reporters. “He showed it in the All-Star Game and he’s showing it again today. He didn’t really have a break. He flew to Colorado, did all the stuff he needed to do and then he goes off today again. He’s been fun to watch. And that’s what I like about going back to Toronto now: the fans in Toronto get to watch one of the best players in baseball — and of course the rest of the group, but Vladdy’s been amazing.”"
It certainly helps that Guerrero Jr. has the support in the lineup that forces team to pitch to him rather than try to avoid him. If the Blue jays can get the level of pitching Robbie Ray provided, there is no reason why a playoff run is out of the question.
What do you think about the decision for the Blue Jays to return home? Can the team find a way to use the home-field advantage to get to the MLB playoffs.