By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher
The Toronto Blue Jays will not be allowed to play baseball at the Rogers Centre in 2020. In fact, they have been kicked out of the country.
This year, the team will not be allowed to play in its home city due to state officials denying their request due to the coronavirus pandemic. Toronto is the only team outside of the United States that plays in Major League Baseball.
The Associated Press reported on Saturday that the city and provincial governments signed off on the Blue Jays playing at their home facility. However, it was their federal government that caused the team to play elsewhere during their upcoming 30-game home schedule.
This denial was likely because the Canadian government did not want one of the players bringing the coronavirus into their border after playing games in the United States.
The Blue Jays are expected to play somewhere in the Unites States. The most logical location is Buffalo, New York, which is right across the border from Toronto.
“There were serious risks if we proceeded with the regular-season proposal of the MLB and the Jays and therefore we concluded it was not in the national interest,” Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino said on the Associated Press.
The biggest concern for Mendicino and other officials in Canada were new surging coronavirus cases in the United States, including Florida.
“Whatever the challenge is, wherever you’ve got to play, wherever you’ve got to go, just keep a smile on your face,” Washington Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer said. “Who knows where we’re going to play them — but we’re going to play baseball. We’re going to find a way to play them and get the games going. And when we do play them, it’s going to be fun, so just keep a smile on your face and try not to get too down about all the hoops we’re going to have to jump through.”
The Blue Jays are set to begin their 60-game season on July 24th in Florida against the Tampa Bay Rays. The team was then scheduled to have their first home game on July 29th against the Nationals.
They will still have their home opener against the Nationals on the 29th. However, the location will change.
With there being no Minor League Baseball in 2020, the Blue Jays could use the Buffalo Bisons facility at Sahlen Field. Also, they could potentially use their spring training home in Dunedin, Florida.
The Bisons are the Blue Jays Triple-A team affiliate.
“Buffalo is the place we’ve spent the most time on in the last 10 days,” Blue Jays President and CEO Mark Shapiro said. “There is a lot we have to do. Some of it might get done after we start playing but I’m confident Buffalo is a viable alternative. With the amount of resources that we would marshal if we focused solely on Buffalo we can make it what it needs to be for us in time to play games.
“Dunedin is the only one that is 100% seamless right now and ready to go. That from a player-health standpoint has some challenges. Buffalo is certainly one that we’ve spent an increasing amount of time on in the past few weeks. That is not done. There are some infrastructure and player-facility challenges to get that up to major league standards. And then we have other alternatives that are real that we continue to work through that may be better for us.”