Reports broke Wednesday that the Kansas City Royals would be without nearly 40% of their active roster for an upcoming series with the Toronto Blue Jays because of 10 unvaccinated players:
Remarkably, Canada (and in some cases, the US) still bans unvaccinated travelers from entering the country, despite the overwhelming evidence that the vaccines do not prevent infection or transmission.
This also recently impacted the Phillies organization, with catcher J.T. Realmuto saying he would not let Canada tell him what to put in his own body:
Many of the Royals best players will not be able to travel to Toronto for the series, including outfielder Andrew Benintendi, utility man Whit Merrifield, first baseman Hunter Dozier and catcher MJ Melendez. Other significant contributors such as Michael Taylor, Kyle Isbel, Cam Gallagher and pitchers Brad Keller, Brady Singer, and Dylan Coleman will also not make the trip.
This ludicrous policy is now having real, significant impacts on the competitive landscape in MLB.
Vaccine mandates never made sense, but they’re even more absurd now in 2022 after conclusive evidence has emerged that vaccine and booster effectiveness is near or below 20%.
Preventing anyone from traveling due to vaccination status is anti-science and unconscionable discrimination, let alone athletes who will be in the country for only a few days.
These are young and healthy men who are at no significant risk from the virus and have made a personal decision that has no impact on the health and well being of others. Preventing them from playing in Toronto is completely unjustifiable.
Canada, of course, has banned unvaccinated travelers since summer 2021 and yet saw newly reported COVID cases rise 11200% by early January 2022. There is no demonstrable benefit to these types mandates, and yet out of arrogance, incompetence and an inability to admit mistakes, they continue.
The Royals are not in playoff position, but for teams like the Phillies or others that are fighting for a wild card spot, Canada’s ridiculous ban could have significant consequences. Not to mention the potential impacts if the Blue Jays make the postseason and their opposition is forced to compete without several major contributors.
Even with these competitive advantages at home, Blue Jays manger Charlie Montoyo was fired Wednesday after stumbling to a 46-42 record.
Without question, MLB and the Players Association should be engaging with local officials to ensure that this inexcusable policy does not continue. Government mandates during COVID have often continued until public pressure becomes too overwhelming to ignore, and MLB’s power and influence should be leveraged so that no other team has to face such absurd restrictions.
After all, Rob Manfred feels comfortable enough inserting himself into politics to say he’d still move the All-Star Game out of Georgia. Why shouldn’t he get involved now?