Tag Archives: Blue Jays

Blue Jays Told to Find a New Nest as MLB Tries to Move Forward with Baseball in the Middle of a Pandemic

As Major League Baseball continues full steam ahead towards their goal of playing baseball in the middle of a global COVID-19 pandemic, the Toronto Blue Jays are scrambling to decide where they will play their home games after being kicked out of their nest days before the season is set to begin.

The reason for the scramble comes courtesy of the Canadian government telling the Blue Jays that they cannot play games in Toronto. In making the decision to ban MLB games in Toronto, a statement released on Saturday by, Marco E. L. Mendicino, P.C., M.P., Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, noted that “the cross-border travel required for MLB regular season play would not adequately protect Canadians’ health and safety.”

For anyone who has been watching the number of COVID-19 cases in the United States rise like a phoenix, the news that Canada has said the MLB players are not welcome inside their borders is not shocking. The border between the United States and Canada has been closed for to all but essential travel for months and playing baseball in the middle of a pandemic is not essential.

Let that sink in for a moment, the COVID-19 pandemic is so out of control in the United States that countries are closing their borders to Americans in order to protect their own citizens. If that does not light a fire under people to try to get a handle on the virus within the United States, I don’t know what will.

The Toronto Blue Jays are scrambling to decide where they will play their home games after being kicked out of their nest days before the season is set to begin.
Photo R. Anderson

While some people may try to just wish the virus away, the fact remains, COVID-19 is not going to just magically disappear if we stop talking about it.

At press time, over 140,000 Americans have died due to COVID-19. That is not a hoax, that is not fake news, those are the sobering facts that are getting more sobering by the day.

Of course, if people would wear masks and social distance, we could get a handle on this pandemic. However, it seems that no matter how many people die, some people will never take COVID-19 seriously. As I have said many times, and many ways, COVID-19 does not care who you voted for, and it does not care if you are tired of talking about it.

Unlike the United States, Canada has employed a nationwide strategy to battling the COVID-19 virus. Under Canada’s Quarantine Act, any person entering Canada from the United States is subject to a strict 14-day quarantine. Gatherings of more than 10 people are also prohibited in the city of Toronto.

While cases in the United States seem to hit record levels every day, the situation in Canada is substantially different.

“Canada has been able to flatten the curve in large part because of the sacrifices Canadians have made,” Mendicino said. “We understand professional sports are important to the economy and to Canadians. At the same time, our government will continue to take decisions at the border on the basis of the advice of our health experts in order to protect the health and safety of all Canadians.”

That is not to say that Canada has said “sorry” to all professional sports wanting to play within their borders. The National Hockey League (NHL) is set to resume the pursuit of the Stanley Cup in August with eligible teams divided between hubs in Toronto and Edmonton.

Similar to the bubble approaches used by the NBA and MLS in Orlando, FL, the NHL plan seeks to keep the players and communities as safe as possible by limiting travel and keeping teams sequestered.

Months ago the Tampa Bay Rays offered to share the Trop with the Blue Jays all season long. The Rays even went so far as offering to build the Jays their own locker room. In the end, the Blue Jays gambled on getting to play in Toronto and lost.
Photo. R. Anderson

MLB is the only league bound and determined to ensure that every team gets to play in their home ballpark during the 60-game in 66 days season.

Early on when MLB was developing their plans to return, there was talk of teams being based at their Spring Training Ballparks which would have put 15 teams in Florida and 15 teams in Arizona. That plan was later changed in favor of the home Ballpark for all approach. With the change, came added potential risk for virus transmission.

Arizona and Florida are now major hot spots of the virus along with Texas. Instead of keeping teams sequestered in Arizona and Florida, teams are now free to move about the country and potentially spread COVID-19 from hot spot to hot spot. Five MLB teams are located in the hot spot areas of Arizona, Florida and Texas.

With this as the path MLB chose, I can totally see why the Canadian government made the decision they did. Why would they want to risk the headway that they have made in corralling COVID-19 just to see cases spike in and around Toronto because some baseball had to be played there?

In case one wonders how seriously Canada is taking their 14-day quarantine requirements, consider this, although the Blue Jays were granted an exemption that allowed them to train in Toronto for Spring Training 2.0, players were confined to the hotel attached to Rogers Centre in order to establish a quarantine environment. The players were not allowed to leave the stadium or hotel. Any violations of quarantine conditions would lead to fines of up to $750,000 Canadian ($551,000 U.S.) and up to six months in jail.

The United States can’t even get everyone to wear masks, since some people think it infringes on their freedoms. Worse still, governors are suing mayors who try to mandate that people wear masks. It has been a while since I took U.S. Government in college, but I don’t recall studying the Amendment about the right to be selfish and risk infecting others during a global pandemic.

While Americans continue to resist simple steps that could slow and ultimately stop the spread of COVID-19, it is refreshing to see a federal government in Canada providing a unified strategy to combating the COVID-19 pandemic and showing real concrete steps to flattening the curve. The United States could learn a lot from our neighbors to the north.

In fact, most countries not named the United States have a unified strategy for combating the COVID-19 virus. Instead of attacking science and scientists who are trying to stop the spread, most countries are listening to science and making informed decisions on a national level.

With Toronto ruled out as a place to play their home games thanks to Canada treating COVID-19 seriously, the Blue Jays are considering using either their Triple-A Ballpark in Buffalo, New York, or their Spring Training Ballpark in Dunedin, Florida.
Photo R. Anderson

So, with Toronto ruled out as a place to play their home games thanks to Canada treating COVID-19 seriously, the Blue Jays are considering using either their Triple-A Ballpark in Buffalo, New York, or their Spring Training Ballpark in Dunedin, Florida. At the time of this writing, a decision on where they will play had not been made.

Toronto’s first regular season game is slated for July 24 against the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg, Florida. The Blue Jays’ home opener is scheduled for July 29 against the Washington Nationals. So, time is definitely running out for the Blue Jays to nail down the logistics for where home games will be played.

While I am not going to go so far as boycotting the 2020 MLB season, I remain steadfast in my belief that a 2020 season should not be played in the middle of a global pandemic. I also remain hopeful that between now and opening day the MLB will decide to pull the plug on the season. Of course, I doubt that will happen.

The Blue Jays’ home opener is scheduled for July 29 against the Washington Nationals. So, time is definitely running out for the Blue Jays to nail down the logistics for where home games will be played.
Photo R. Anderson

With all signs pointing towards a season taking place, the Toronto Blue Jays should have been more proactive and removed Canadian home games from the table months ago.

There are enough issues with spreading COVID-19 from state to state. There is no need to make an international incident out of it.

I enjoy traveling to Canada and look forward to when I can go there again. In order to do that, Americans need to show the resolve that was shown during World War II and unite against the common enemy of COVID-19. If we don’t, we will remain an isolated island with the rest of the world closing their borders to us and shaking their heads wondering how the richest nation in the world could screw up a response to a global pandemic.

We should have been out front leading the way to curtail the virus instead of blaming others and saying, “oh look at the shiny object over there” while Rome burned around us.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to wash my reusable masks.

Copyright 2020 R. Anderson

The Hit Heard Round the League

The other night Toronto Blue Jays pitcher J.A. Happ endured one of the most viscous hits I have ever witnessed a player take.

No, the hit was not from a batter charging the mound. This hit to the left ear came from a baseball hit with enough force as to still travel nearly the length of the field after impacting Happ’s skull. The impact of ball on skull was also so violent that the sound could be heard all the way up into the press box at Tropicana Field.

Former Astro turned Blue Jay J.A. Happ was hospitalized overnight after he was hit in the head with a baseball. Photo R Anderson
Former Astro turned Blue Jay J.A. Happ was hospitalized overnight after he was hit in the head with a baseball.
Photo R Anderson

Granted one could argue that sound travels further in a dome but still picture the type of force required for the sound to be heard that far away.

During my years covering high school and college football I witnessed many violent hits. On a few occasions I even heard bones break and tendons snap so I know the sound of agony when a player goes down. I just don’t expect that sound to occur in a Ballpark at the rate that they seem to be occurring lately.

Thankfully after an overnight hospital stay J.A. Happ was released and the 11 minute delay in the game that had thousands of fans silenced and players on both sides looking on with concern and disbelief will become just another footnote in the saga of near misuses and one of those viral videos that is passed along. The video may even make one of those compilation shows that ranks the top hits in sports, etc.

Sadly, unless something is done the next pitcher to get hit in the head with a baseball off the end of a bat may not be as lucky.

To its credit Major League Baseball is looking into ways to make the pitcher safer out on the mound. Cap inserts made out of Kevlar, the same material that bullet proof vests are made of, are being looked at as a potential way to protect a pitcher.

Pitchers like J.A. Happ are often sitting ducks for well hit balls back up the middle. Sometimes they are caught and and other times injuries result. Photo R Anderson
Pitchers like J.A. Happ are often sitting ducks for well hit balls back up the middle. Sometimes they are caught and and other times injuries result.
Photo R Anderson

Unfortunately a Kevlar insert would not have protected J.A. Happ from injury nor would it have likely prevented an injury last season that led to a pitcher for the Oakland Athletics undergoing emergency brain surgery to deal with a fractured skull and a life threatening hemorrhage since both of those impacts occurred below where the Kevlar would be placed.

Since we at the Triple B Gigaplex are in the problem solving business here are some ideas for Major League Baseball to consider to protect the defenseless pitcher on the mound.

With the understanding that the solution needs to protect the pitcher’s entire head while still allowing full range of motion to perform pitching duties like throws to the plate and pick off attempts, a catcher’s mask and goalie style mask are ruled out as options.

While they would meet the criteria of protecting the pitcher, I an picturing a lot more stolen bases coming as the pitchers would lose most, if not all, of their peripheral vision and base runners would have a field day stealing on them.

Okay, so the goalie mask style is ruled out which leads us to the perfect solution, bullet proof glass aquarium heads. I mean if the Miami Marlins can install aquariums behind home plate that can withstand the force of balls being hurled against them surely the same technology in smaller scale can protect the pitchers.

Breathing holes will of course need to be drilled into the aquarium bowl helmets to ensure that pitchers can breathe and also not fog up the glass but it certainly answers the visibility issue and would prevent the rise in stolen bases that the other solutions would lead to.

An early design concept for a protective pitcher fishbowl. Photo R Anderson
An early design concept for a protective pitcher fishbowl.
Photo R Anderson

All kidding aside, I am of course not seriously thinking that the solution to protect pitchers is a fish bowl helmet. And it may turn out that there is no solution that will protect 100 percent of the possible injuries.

There always has been and always will be risk of injury related to sports. And as some athletes have famously said is why they are paid the big bucks.

Take the NFL and NASCAR for example. Both sports have spent millions of dollars on driver and player safety. Does that mean that athletes in those sports will no longer need to fear injury? Of course not. But it does mean that the sports are safer than they were say 50 years ago or so.

The same is true with baseball. Experts will put their heads together and conduct trials to determine what if anything can be done to protect players on the field from injury.

Regarding injury to pitchers whatever solution is found will need to be started at the Little League level to ensure that players are used to the protective equipment before reaching the majors.

To think that a solution can be found this year and rolled out to all pitchers in the Major Leagues is just not going to happen. Even if the technology is available pitchers will still be able to choose whether or not they want to wear the equipment and in many cases the answer will be no since it will fundamentally change how they pitch and will add an unknown variable to the equation.

J.A. Happ was lucky and evading serious injury and will likely pitch again. Time will tell if the next pitcher knocked down on the mound is as lucky. Photo R Anderson
J.A. Happ was lucky and evaded serious injury and will likely pitch again. Time will tell if the next pitcher knocked down on the mound is as lucky.
Photo R Anderson

Incidents like J.A. Happ’s injury will unfortunately continue to be part of the game for the foreseeable future and most pitchers accept that risk and try to keep the fear of getting hit out of their thoughts.

A few more viral videos of pitchers taking balls to the head though very well could change the culture sooner than perhaps anyone is ready for. And heaven forbid a player is killed on the field from injuries received.

A few years back a minor league first base coach was struck in the head by a ball and died from his injuries. Following his death first and third base coaches were required to wear batting helmets out on the field in all Minor and Major League Baseball games. Of course no one is wanting that to be what finally ushers in the move to pitcher safety.

So while there is no magic solution to prevent all injuries it is nice to see that the issue is being looked at in terms of a solution.

Now if you’ll excuse me I am off to patent pitcher fish bowl helmets before someone beats me to it.

Copyright 2013 R Anderson