The 2020 Major League Baseball season was going to be different. For the past month as it became clear that a season was at least going to be attempted various ways in which it would be different have been bandied about. Piped in crowd noise, cardboard cutouts in place of fans, the universal designated hitter, and so on and so forth. Somewhere in all the reopening hoopla, we all lost sight of one important fact; there is an MLB team that plays in another country.
It was easy to forget why it matters that the Toronto Blue Jays play in Canada. Those of us in America are guilty of too often lumping Canada and America together in our heads. The countries are so similar, we tell ourselves, ignoring the myriad differences that exist between the two neighbors. As soon as the Blue Jays were given the green light to hold Summer Camp in Toronto they were lumped in with every other team on the inevitable march towards likely Coronavirus outbreaks.
The Canadian government had different ideas and this weekend they decided enough was enough. In recent times one of the key differences between America and its Northern neighbor has been seen in the handling of the Coronavirus. In Canada, they have taken COVID-19 seriously and have, for the most part, offered up a unified front between provinces and federal governing bodies. This unified front has led to Canada taking the appropriate measures to overcome outbreaks and place their country in a much stronger, and safer, position to start reopening.
Contrast the above with the situation in America. In the good ole US of A the virus is still running rampant. So much so that some states are considering closing down yet again. The federal government has offered little to no response while state governments have either taken feeble action or ignored the virus and hoped it would go away. The end result has been a country that is still in the grips of community spread but is still reopening, or in some cases remained open, because they are beholden to the capitalist machine.
Enter MLB and the 2020 season. It was made quite clear in interviews starting in mid-May that sports were seen as an integral part of letting Americans believe that we had beaten the virus. Toss in owners knowing that any games played meant they would continue to make profits and well, MLB was coming back no matter what, baby. We’ve now reached that point, MLB is about to be back, in America at least. Canada has told the Blue Jays no, and their reasoning is quite valid.
In a statement released by Canadian Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino he got right to the heart of the matter, inter-state travel. It was one thing for the Blue Jays to hold Summer Camp in a virtual bubble in Toronto. Now that the season is beginning players, coaches, and other ancillary staff will be traveling out of the Toronto bubble and to places that are still hotbeds for the virus, such as Florida, New York, and Baltimore. It’s easy to see why the Canadian government said no to MLB’s proposed season, it’s not safe. No massive digging or investigative work needs to be done, traveling into virus hot zones and then back to a cold zone like Toronto brings about a high probability of another outbreak in Toronto.
Instead, the Blue Jays will likely play in Pittsburgh's PNC Park this year pending approval from the state of Pennsylvania.It’sunclear as of right now exactly where the Blue Jays will end up in 2020. One thing has been made clear, Canada cares more about the safety of the community than MLB or America do. When faced with easy to discern evidence Canada chose safety and security while MLB and America said the games must go on and money must be made. There are a lot of differences between Canada and America, common sense being near the top of the list it seems.