“AMERICA FIRST” is a thing Donald Trump likes to say.
As in: the entire Major League Baseball schedule will be played in AMERICA for the FIRST time since 1968.
Is that it?
The government of Canada decided on Saturday that having the Blue Jays play their home games in Toronto, while traveling back and forth to the United States for road trips, would be too dangerous to allow, given that Trump’s administration has failed so miserably at containing COVID-19, while Justin Trudeau’s nation is starting to get things under control.
The Blue Jays, who had gotten city and provincial approval to play home games in Toronto before getting rejected by the federal government, have been training for the season in isolation at their stadium, which includes an on-site hotel, and the NHL is gearing up to resume its season in Toronto and Edmonton. But with the U.S.-Canada border closed to all but essential travelers, having the Blue Jays and other teams repeatedly venturing from one side to the other for the next two months is a no-go.
“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,” Canadian immigration minister Marco Mendicino said in a statement.
“Of particular concern, the Toronto Blue Jays would be required to play in locations where the risk of virus transmission remains high.”
The Blue Jays’ season opener is scheduled for Friday against the Rays, in Florida, a state that this week has had a four-day streak of triple-digit coronavirus deaths. The Blue Jays also may now be calling Florida home for the summer, as their spring training facility in Dunedin is better suited to accommodate a barebones major league schedule than their Triple-A team’s stadium in Buffalo.
After two exhibition games in Boston and the season-opening series at Tampa Bay, the Blue Jays are scheduled to play two games in Washington before returning home for another two games against the Nationals, with their home opener on July 29, wherever that winds up being now.
MLB has had games outside of the United States every year since the Montreal Expos joined the National League as an expansion team in 1969. The Blue Jays came into the league in 1977, and MLB also has had regular-season games in Australia, Japan, Mexico, and the United Kingdom.