Without rapid resolution, instability could increase health risks for the Blue Jays


TORONTO – Busy life can sometimes make it easy to lose sight of the big picture, and in the midst of the mad rush to find the Toronto Blue Jays a place to live this summer, this sight overall is far too important to be missed.

Their first home game on July 29, now less than a week away, is an albatross that gets heavier and heavier with every moment without resolution. There is a toll for players, stress for coaches trying to chart routines and work schedules, huge burden on the front office, ambiguity for visiting clubs and a lot of anxiety for the Major League. Baseball.

To say that the pressure is on doesn’t even begin to do it justice.

The option under discussion to stay in Washington July 29-30 and host the Nationals there, then return July 31-August. Series 2 with the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park would save everyone’s time, until the Blue Jays’ August 11 date with the Miami Marlins. Perhaps this is the leeway that everyone needs.

Yet the real risk here is not the sanctity of the baseball calendar or the damage to the Blue Jays’ chances this summer – both of whom take hits longer than they extend – but to the health of the players, players. coaches and staff who can find themselves on the road for three consecutive weeks amid a raging pandemic.

Not good.

The main flaw in Major League Baseball’s impressive return-to-play protocol is the amount of travel it contains, the main factor cited by the Canadian government in rejecting the Blue Jays’ plan for regular season games at Rogers Center on Saturday. , and urged the state of Pennsylvania to deny a joint proposal with the Pittsburgh Pirates to the tenant of PNC Park on Wednesday.

Consider their reasoning:

“Based on the best public health advice available, we concluded that the cross-border travel required for MLB regular season games would not adequately protect the health and safety of Canadians,” said Marco Mendicino, Canadian Minister for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship. “What is of particular concern is that the Toronto Blue Jays would be required to play in locations where the risk of virus transmission remains high.

“To add travelers to this region for any reason, including professional sporting events, risk residents, visitors and members of both teams,” said Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr Rachel. Levine.

The underlying message, there is a fear that gamers could transmit COVID-19 from one region to another, an issue exacerbated by the Blue Jays’ visit to coronavirus hotspots in Florida and Georgia during the next two weeks, but also playing clubs that have been there, too.

Despite this, critics described the decisions as politically motivated or alarmist. There is a case to be made for both of them, and I looked into it about a month ago.

At the same time, there are good reasons to be cautious, as explained by Dr Andrew Morris, medical director of the antimicrobial stewardship program at Sinai Health System / University Health Network and professor of infectious diseases at the ‘University of Toronto.

“There are several things that we have always known about infectious diseases,” he said. “First, you get people to come together, you’re going to spread. Second, respiratory infections are very communicable, just like that, and they are more communicable than people ever realize. And third, when you have a lot of mixing, it’s bad for epidemiology, so when you have people moving around, it’s bad policy for infectious disease management.

“The reason a virus that came out of Wuhan, China is all over the world,” he added, “is because of migration patterns.

Now remove all time spent in a suitable base that gives players a break from the life of the road – needing to find meals, entertainment, social connections, and other basic necessities away from home – and this increases their chances of contracting and spreading disease.

That’s why the barn possibility first suggested by ESPN’s Buster Olney, where the Blue Jays would play their entire home schedule as the host team at their opponent’s stadium, is a reckless idea.

If they used the 60-game road trip plan, the Blue Jays would never be in one place for more than four days until Sept. 7-17, when they’re ready to welcome the Yankees and Mets, then to visit the Yankees. Such a schedule is not just a competitive disadvantage, it is a threat to both the Blue Jays and public health.

So, for the sake of the Blue Jays and the communities they visit, there is a need to find suitable accommodation for them, which allows them to spend time in safe shelter when they are not at work.

To that end, the club revisits their previous groundwork by examining the Baltimore Camden Yards, while Buffalo’s Sahlen Field, home to the Blue Jays’ triple-A branch, remains a reluctant emergency fallback solution that requires a significant investment in infrastructure to meet the two big league standards. and COVID-19 protocols.

The Blue Jays have also considered bouncing between Yankee Stadium and Citi Field, although a multi-stadium plan is less ideal as it means more temporary elements such as third clubs are needed.

If the logistical issues can be resolved – and there are many at any park in the Big League – the Orioles home schedule matches the Blue Jays home schedule well. The only conflicts are from July 29 to August. August 2 and August 14-16, but figuring out where to set up an alternative clubhouse, where to locate clubs and ensure all protocols are followed takes time that no one has.

Team President and CEO Mark Shapiro made it clear on Saturday, following the Canadian government’s decision, that his team’s health and safety would be the top priority, but the situation is more fully under its control.

Opening Day starter Hyun-Jin Ryu, again giving a voice of sanity, stressed how the uncertainty of where the Blue Jays play is a collective challenge for the whole organization, not just for the players, but added: “We just have to remember that we’re going to grind for two months instead of a 162-game season. If we can come together and work as a team, we should be fine.

“It’s something we’ve never had to face in the past, but honestly this season is all about (the challenges) that we go through and overcome them,” he continued. “It’s going to be tough but I trust my teammates and I think we can come together just because it’s an unprecedented season.

There is little doubt about it, and manager Charlie Montoyo pointed to the health issues his endearing son Alex has faced all his life as a perspective of the current woes of the Blue Jays, saying, “I’ve been through worse, so it could be worse. ”

Still, he and the rest of the coaching staff “communicated with the players, talk to them and stay positive,” he said. “You have no control over what happens, just play the game, play to win and keep going. We will see where we go to play. Don’t worry about the things you can’t control. This is what we mainly tell everyone. And they were really good. They really have. They deserve a lot of credit. ”

More than a credit, they deserve a home, and their plight is a reminder of how difficult it is to organize a season in the midst of a pandemic. Major League Baseball and the players decided to make things even more difficult by adding an element of travel to the mix, and now health officials in Canada and Pennsylvania have said thank you but no thank you.

It’s quite disturbing from a baseball perspective. In terms of health and safety, it can be even worse.


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