Canada’s team may have to call America home this summer.
Just how Major League Baseball will look and operate this season is still unclear, but connecting the dots, it may mean a new temporary home for the Toronto Blue Jays.
Unlike the NHL and NBA, which are making plans to play games in centralized locations to reduce travel, MLB appears to still be considering playing games in home ballparks, though the league’s schedule would be altered.
According to a report from USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, MLB is considering temporarily realigning into three divisions based on geography, which would be a departure from the traditional American League/National League divide. The East, Central, and West Divisions in each league would be combined, respectively, meaning that the Blue Jays would in the same division as both the AL East’s New York Yankees and NL East’s New York Mets for instance.
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Teams would only play games within their 10-team divisions, but this still poses a unique issue for the Blue Jays. As MLB’s only Canadian team, crossing the border comes with unique challenges during the pandemic.
Current restrictions on international travel would require players, coaches, and staff to quarantine for 14 days every time they crossed the border. Clearly, it wouldn’t be possible to play a baseball season under those rules, which may necessitate the Jays finding a new temporary home.
Toronto Mayor John Tory addressed the Blue Jays on Tuesday, saying he had been contacted by team executives, while acknowledging that the team could play elsewhere this season.
“I’ve been contacted by the senior executives of the Toronto Blue Jays, who are looking for some information at a very initial, preliminary level with respect the possibility of the Blue Jays, at some stage, obviously depending on upon information that has to do with the border and quarantines and public health, possibly being in a position to play some games, whether it’s here or elsewhere,” said Tory.
Given that it’s highly unlikely that crowds will be allowed to attend games anyway, this won’t have a major impact on fans, though logistical issues would be plentiful. The team would need to secure a new stadium, while players, coaches, and staff would need a new place to live during the season. The Jays could play in nearby Buffalo, where their Triple-A affiliate is located, or in Dunedin, Florida at their Spring Training facility.
Whatever the case, this certainly promises to be a season like no other, if of course there is a season played at all.