Baseball’s plan for a truncated season has hit an unexpected hurdle.
Canada’s lone MLB team won’t be permitted to play in Toronto this year, because Canada has declined to allow it.
“Unlike preseason training, regular-season games would require repeated cross-border travel of Blue Jays players and staff, as well as opponent teams into and out of Canada,” Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino said, via ESPN.com. “Of particular concern, the Toronto Blue Jays would be required to play in locations where the risk of virus transmission remains high.
“Based on the best-available public health advice, we have concluded the cross-border travel required for MLB regular-season play would not adequately protect Canadians’ health and safety. As a result, Canada will not be issuing a National Interest Exemption for the MLB’s regular season at this time.”
That’s a semi-tactful way of recognizing that the United States has become a COVID-19 clusterfudge, with an outbreak sufficiently severe and unchecked to prompt Canada to decline to allow the Blue Jays to invite Americans teams to Ontario or to play in Canada after playing in the U.S.
“The safety of the broader community — our fans — and the team remained the priority of everyone involved, and with that, the club completely respects the federal government’s decision,” Blue Jays president and CEO Mark Shapiro said in a statement, via ESPN.com. “Though our team will not be playing home games at Rogers Centre this summer, our players will take the field for the 2020 season with the same pride and passion representative of an entire nation. We cannot wait until the day comes that we can play in front of our fans again on Canadian soil.”
The Blue Jays are exploring alternative sites for their home games, including the team’s spring training facility in Dunedin, Florida and the team’s Triple-A affiliate in Buffalo. Via ESPN.com, the lights at the Buffalo park may not be acceptable for Major League games.