Apparently the science changed in Canada, Blue Jays can return home

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Fox News 17 July, 2021 - 02:13pm 8 views

Why are the Blue Jays playing in Buffalo?

The Blue Jays have played their home games this year in Dunedin, Florida, and Buffalo, New York, because the U.S.-Canada border remains closed to nonessential travel. ... Major League Baseball needs an exemption for games to be played in Canada because not all players and team staff have been vaccinated against COVID-19. WIVB.com - News 4Blue Jays, Canadian government working out ‘last details’ on return to Rogers Centre

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A long-awaited return to Canada is in store for the Toronto Blue Jays after the team was granted National Interest Exemption to return to Rogers Centre in Downtown Toronto, starting July 30.

The team had previously played their "home" games in Dunedin, Florida and Sahlen Field in Buffalo due to ongoing travel restrictions between the U.S. and Canada related to COVID-19.

The Blue Jays released an official statement regarding the travel update announced on Friday. "After nearly two years away, the Toronto Blue Jays are finally coming home to Canada beginning July 30."

The announcement from Marco Mendicino — Canadian minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship — stated that protocols would be put into action for all visiting teams once the Blue Jays return to Toronto. The protocols will demand vaccinated players to be tested for COVID-19 before and after games, while unvaccinated teammates and personnel will be subject to additional testing.

"Following a careful review by public health officials at every level of government, a National Interest Exemption has been approved that will permit the Toronto Blue Jays to return to Toronto and play home games at the Rogers Centre," said Mendicino, on behalf of the Canadian government.

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Toronto Blue Jays get OK to play home games in Canada starting July 30

ESPN 17 July, 2021 - 06:01pm

The Blue Jays asked the federal government to allow them to play at Rogers Centre starting July 30, and they got their approval Friday.

"After nearly two years away, the Toronto Blue Jays are finally coming home to Canada beginning July 30,'' the team said in a statement. "The club was granted a National Interest Exemption by the federal government that allows Major League Baseball games to be played at Rogers Centre, with robust health and safety protocols in place.''

The Blue Jays played home games during the shortened 2020 season in Buffalo, New York, and started this season in Dunedin, Florida, before moving to Buffalo. The Canadian government didn't allow the team to play in Toronto because of the risk of spreading COVID-19, citing frequent travel required in the U.S. during a baseball season.

Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino said the decision was made in conjunction with the Public Health Agency of Canada, with the approval of provincial and municipal public health officials.

Mendicino said the plan includes significant limitations on unvaccinated individuals, "who will have to undergo a modified quarantine, not be permitted to go anywhere but the hotel and stadium and have no interaction with the general public.''

He said there will also be a designated compliance officer for each team.

"Anyone who breaches these stringent conditions will have their exemptions revoked and may also be subject to fines or prosecution under the Quarantine Act,'' he said.

The U.S.-Canada border remains closed to nonessential travel, though Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said this week those restrictions could end in mid-August.

Major League Baseball requires an exemption for unvaccinated players and team staff to play games in Canada. As of this month, fully vaccinated players who have valid work permits are no longer required to complete a 14-day quarantine upon entry into Canada, but some teams have players who are not vaccinated. A quarantine exemption and protocols around that need to be approved.

Talks between the Blue Jays and federal government accelerated over the past day.

The team described Friday as a breaking point, noting the club has a long homestand starting July 30 that represents more than 25% of the remaining games at a crucial juncture competitively. The Blue Jays entered Friday tied for third in the AL East.

They require lead time in order to move what they need from Buffalo and to prepare for Toronto operations, including ticket sales, although the team has already begun preparations at Rogers Centre, according to two team officials who spoke the AP on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

Toronto last played at 49,000-capacity Rogers Centre on Sept. 29, 2019, an 8-3 win over Tampa Bay.

Blue Jays ace Hyun Jin Ryu signed with the team before the 2020 season and has yet to pitch a game in Toronto.

The club noted in a news release this week that MLB has high vaccination rates, with more than 85% of players and personnel fully vaccinated. The club said vaccinated players and staff on the home and visiting teams will have to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test, with no quarantine requirement, and that fully vaccinated individuals will undergo weekly testing.

Blue Jays will return to Toronto July 30 after getting Covid-19 exemption

CNN International 17 July, 2021 - 06:01pm

Updated 0023 GMT (0823 HKT) July 17, 2021

Blue Jays returning to Toronto after receiving clearance from Canadian government

Sporting News AU 17 July, 2021 - 06:01pm

Toronto's MLB team announced Friday that it will resume playing home games at Rogers Centre on July 30. The club has been forced to play exclusively in the United States in 2020 and 2021 because of the Canada-U.S. border closure and the Canadian government's restrictions on nonessential cross-border travel in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Canadian government approved the Jays' request for a National Interest Exemption to the border restrictions, The Associated Press reported. The team had wanted a response by Friday, the AP further reported. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is considering ending travel restrictions in mid-August.

The Blue Jays will host the Royals in the stadium's reopening. Toronto last played at Rogers Centre on Sept. 29, 2019. It is not clear what the stadium's seating capacity will be.

The Jays said in a statement that "robust health and safety protocols" will be in place. Canada's immigration minister, Marco Mendicino, said unvaccinated personnel "will have to undergo a modified quarantine, not be permitted to go anywhere but the hotel and stadium and have no interaction with the general public." A compliance officer will be assigned to each team, Mendicino said, per the AP.

Buffalo, N.Y., has been the Jays' home for the majority of their exile. They moved into an upgraded Sahlen Field, home of their Triple-A affiliate, in mid-August during MLB's shortened 2020 season. This year, they started their home schedule at their spring training stadium in Dunedin, Fla., before returning to Buffalo in June. The Bisons have been playing home games in Trenton, N.J., this year after having their 2020 season canceled because of COVID-19.

Jays players Alek Manoah and Jonathan Davis expressed their excitement about Friday's news while they prepared to play another game in Western New York.

Toronto Man(oah) and JD are ready to come home ❤️🇨🇦 pic.twitter.com/3TqqdCw5ht

The club, meanwhile, is excited about being able to reintroduce fans to a certain All-Star and MVP candidate.

Shapiro on return: 'Home is Toronto'

MLB.com 17 July, 2021 - 03:04pm

No deal is done until it’s done, he’s learned over three decades in baseball, and the Blue Jays’ negotiations with the federal government to return to Canada have to be the most unique of his career. When the message landed on Friday, though, the Blue Jays finally had their green light to return to Rogers Centre after nearly two full seasons away, and Shapiro’s mind went to a number.

“My first thought upon getting the email last night that contained the National Letter of Exemption was, pretty simply, 670 days,” Shapiro said. “670 days. That’s how long it’s been since we’ve played a home game, a true home game. More than that, the meaning of a home game and what home is -- home is Toronto, home is Canada -- for our organization and for our players was more crystal clear than it probably ever has been. We have a greater sense of appreciation, a greater sense of meaning.”

The next two weeks will be a whirlwind. Thankfully for the Blue Jays, they have some experience in the area at this point, but the organization still needs to uproot itself from Buffalo and hit the ground running in Toronto, all while playing a Major League season. Physically moving resources across the border will be one challenge, as will getting Rogers Centre ready. The Blue Jays have gotten a head start on that, but the building hasn’t been fully used since 2019, and it’s not exactly a one-bedroom apartment.

There are logistics to sort, people to move and crates to ship, but the payoff comes on July 30, when the Blue Jays take the field. They’ll be permitted to have up to 15,000 fans in the building when they return to Toronto, and Shapiro understands what this return can represent as the city of Toronto, province of Ontario and country of Canada work their way out of what we hope are the latter stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’ve always felt like baseball has played a role in history, in the recovery from adversity and from challenges,” Shapiro said. “Whether it’s wars, 9/11, at different times baseball seems to be one of those symbols of continuity, of return to normalcy. I really feel like it will be a celebratory moment for the country, for the city. It’s one that we’re excited to share, one we’re excited for our players to feel what it means to represent a country and how incredible Toronto is as a city.”

The timing is perfect, too, and July 30 will be busy.

Not only do the Blue Jays make their grand return, but that’s also the Trade Deadline. The Blue Jays are expected to be active at the Deadline with an eye not just to a 2021 run, but to runs in 2022 and beyond. The Blue Jays have the prospect capital and financial flexibility to drive the trade market if they choose to, and Shapiro said the club is seriously looking to improve.

“That’s not something that I’m throwing out there casually,” Shapiro added. “You can look at areas of need, certainly whether it’s defense or bullpen, those are the ones that are the most obvious, but sometimes the biggest impact you can make is not necessarily in those areas.”

It’s a perfect storm if the winds blow the right way, and the Blue Jays’ 2015 season offers a perfect example of how quickly things can catch fire.

That ’15 team was drastically different, of course, leaning more towards veterans, but the Blue Jays shocked baseball by adding Troy Tulowitzki and David Price just prior to the Deadline. Rogers Centre was packed for one of the loudest, most exciting runs of baseball in the organization’s history, even if it didn’t result in a World Series championship. The NHL’s Maple Leafs will always have their fanbase in Toronto, but more recently the NBA’s Raptors showed just how fully and passionately the city of Toronto will get behind a competitive team.

The Blue Jays are a hot streak away from waking that beast again in Toronto, and given how they’ve gotten here, even Shapiro admits that human nature has to play a part here, with a “what if” entering his mind.

“How incredible would it be to think about the journey we’ve experienced,” Shapiro said, “the uncertainty of last season, playing a 60-game season in Buffalo, playing in three different homes this season and finally getting back to the place we all believe in, care about and feel a tie to … to end that with winning the last game would be maybe one of the greatest baseball stories ever written.”

Shapiro on return: 'Home is Toronto'

Toronto Star 17 July, 2021 - 03:04pm

No deal is done until it’s done, he’s learned over three decades in baseball, and the Blue Jays’ negotiations with the federal government to return to Canada have to be the most unique of his career. When the message landed on Friday, though, the Blue Jays finally had their green light to return to Rogers Centre after nearly two full seasons away, and Shapiro’s mind went to a number.

“My first thought upon getting the email last night that contained the National Letter of Exemption was, pretty simply, 670 days,” Shapiro said. “670 days. That’s how long it’s been since we’ve played a home game, a true home game. More than that, the meaning of a home game and what home is -- home is Toronto, home is Canada -- for our organization and for our players was more crystal clear than it probably ever has been. We have a greater sense of appreciation, a greater sense of meaning.”

The next two weeks will be a whirlwind. Thankfully for the Blue Jays, they have some experience in the area at this point, but the organization still needs to uproot itself from Buffalo and hit the ground running in Toronto, all while playing a Major League season. Physically moving resources across the border will be one challenge, as will getting Rogers Centre ready. The Blue Jays have gotten a head start on that, but the building hasn’t been fully used since 2019, and it’s not exactly a one-bedroom apartment.

There are logistics to sort, people to move and crates to ship, but the payoff comes on July 30, when the Blue Jays take the field. They’ll be permitted to have up to 15,000 fans in the building when they return to Toronto, and Shapiro understands what this return can represent as the city of Toronto, province of Ontario and country of Canada work their way out of what we hope are the latter stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’ve always felt like baseball has played a role in history, in the recovery from adversity and from challenges,” Shapiro said. “Whether it’s wars, 9/11, at different times baseball seems to be one of those symbols of continuity, of return to normalcy. I really feel like it will be a celebratory moment for the country, for the city. It’s one that we’re excited to share, one we’re excited for our players to feel what it means to represent a country and how incredible Toronto is as a city.”

The timing is perfect, too, and July 30 will be busy.

Not only do the Blue Jays make their grand return, but that’s also the Trade Deadline. The Blue Jays are expected to be active at the Deadline with an eye not just to a 2021 run, but to runs in 2022 and beyond. The Blue Jays have the prospect capital and financial flexibility to drive the trade market if they choose to, and Shapiro said the club is seriously looking to improve.

“That’s not something that I’m throwing out there casually,” Shapiro added. “You can look at areas of need, certainly whether it’s defense or bullpen, those are the ones that are the most obvious, but sometimes the biggest impact you can make is not necessarily in those areas.”

It’s a perfect storm if the winds blow the right way, and the Blue Jays’ 2015 season offers a perfect example of how quickly things can catch fire.

That ’15 team was drastically different, of course, leaning more towards veterans, but the Blue Jays shocked baseball by adding Troy Tulowitzki and David Price just prior to the Deadline. Rogers Centre was packed for one of the loudest, most exciting runs of baseball in the organization’s history, even if it didn’t result in a World Series championship. The NHL’s Maple Leafs will always have their fanbase in Toronto, but more recently the NBA’s Raptors showed just how fully and passionately the city of Toronto will get behind a competitive team.

The Blue Jays are a hot streak away from waking that beast again in Toronto, and given how they’ve gotten here, even Shapiro admits that human nature has to play a part here, with a “what if” entering his mind.

“How incredible would it be to think about the journey we’ve experienced,” Shapiro said, “the uncertainty of last season, playing a 60-game season in Buffalo, playing in three different homes this season and finally getting back to the place we all believe in, care about and feel a tie to … to end that with winning the last game would be maybe one of the greatest baseball stories ever written.”

Shapiro on return: 'Home is Toronto'

Toronto Sun 17 July, 2021 - 03:04pm

No deal is done until it’s done, he’s learned over three decades in baseball, and the Blue Jays’ negotiations with the federal government to return to Canada have to be the most unique of his career. When the message landed on Friday, though, the Blue Jays finally had their green light to return to Rogers Centre after nearly two full seasons away, and Shapiro’s mind went to a number.

“My first thought upon getting the email last night that contained the National Letter of Exemption was, pretty simply, 670 days,” Shapiro said. “670 days. That’s how long it’s been since we’ve played a home game, a true home game. More than that, the meaning of a home game and what home is -- home is Toronto, home is Canada -- for our organization and for our players was more crystal clear than it probably ever has been. We have a greater sense of appreciation, a greater sense of meaning.”

The next two weeks will be a whirlwind. Thankfully for the Blue Jays, they have some experience in the area at this point, but the organization still needs to uproot itself from Buffalo and hit the ground running in Toronto, all while playing a Major League season. Physically moving resources across the border will be one challenge, as will getting Rogers Centre ready. The Blue Jays have gotten a head start on that, but the building hasn’t been fully used since 2019, and it’s not exactly a one-bedroom apartment.

There are logistics to sort, people to move and crates to ship, but the payoff comes on July 30, when the Blue Jays take the field. They’ll be permitted to have up to 15,000 fans in the building when they return to Toronto, and Shapiro understands what this return can represent as the city of Toronto, province of Ontario and country of Canada work their way out of what we hope are the latter stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’ve always felt like baseball has played a role in history, in the recovery from adversity and from challenges,” Shapiro said. “Whether it’s wars, 9/11, at different times baseball seems to be one of those symbols of continuity, of return to normalcy. I really feel like it will be a celebratory moment for the country, for the city. It’s one that we’re excited to share, one we’re excited for our players to feel what it means to represent a country and how incredible Toronto is as a city.”

The timing is perfect, too, and July 30 will be busy.

Not only do the Blue Jays make their grand return, but that’s also the Trade Deadline. The Blue Jays are expected to be active at the Deadline with an eye not just to a 2021 run, but to runs in 2022 and beyond. The Blue Jays have the prospect capital and financial flexibility to drive the trade market if they choose to, and Shapiro said the club is seriously looking to improve.

“That’s not something that I’m throwing out there casually,” Shapiro added. “You can look at areas of need, certainly whether it’s defense or bullpen, those are the ones that are the most obvious, but sometimes the biggest impact you can make is not necessarily in those areas.”

It’s a perfect storm if the winds blow the right way, and the Blue Jays’ 2015 season offers a perfect example of how quickly things can catch fire.

That ’15 team was drastically different, of course, leaning more towards veterans, but the Blue Jays shocked baseball by adding Troy Tulowitzki and David Price just prior to the Deadline. Rogers Centre was packed for one of the loudest, most exciting runs of baseball in the organization’s history, even if it didn’t result in a World Series championship. The NHL’s Maple Leafs will always have their fanbase in Toronto, but more recently the NBA’s Raptors showed just how fully and passionately the city of Toronto will get behind a competitive team.

The Blue Jays are a hot streak away from waking that beast again in Toronto, and given how they’ve gotten here, even Shapiro admits that human nature has to play a part here, with a “what if” entering his mind.

“How incredible would it be to think about the journey we’ve experienced,” Shapiro said, “the uncertainty of last season, playing a 60-game season in Buffalo, playing in three different homes this season and finally getting back to the place we all believe in, care about and feel a tie to … to end that with winning the last game would be maybe one of the greatest baseball stories ever written.”

Rangers-Blue Jays in Buffalo rained out; doubleheader Sunday

CTV Toronto 17 July, 2021 - 01:03pm

The Associated Press Staff

Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Bo Bichette, left, fields a grounder hit by Texas Rangers' Nick Solak, who was out at first, as Nate Lowe heads toward third during the second inning of a baseball game in Buffalo, N.Y., Friday, July 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The game between the Texas Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday was postponed because of rain.

It will be made up as part of an afternoon doubleheader Sunday, with both games scheduled for seven innings. The Rangers said left-hander Kolby Allard will start the opener, followed by Mike Foltynewicz. The Blue Jays will have left-handers work both games, with Hyun Jin Ryu taking the mound for the opener and Steven Matz working the nightcap.

Toronto entered Saturday in third place in the AL East, eight games behind first-place Boston. Texas has lost seven of 10 and is last in the AL West.

The Blue Jays on Friday received approval from the Canadian government for an exemption on border restrictions that would allow them to return to Canada for a homestand that begins on July 30.

They played home games during the shortened 2020 season in Buffalo and started this season in Dunedin, Florida, before moving north to Buffalo. The Canadian government didn't allow the team to play in Toronto because of the risk of spreading COVID-19. Toronto last played at 49,000-capacity Rogers Centre on Sept. 29, 2019.

Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro said that the team was approved to treat the retractable-roof stadium as an outdoor facility with a capacity of 15,000.

He also reflected on the larger role the team has in its home city.

"670 days -- that's how long it's been since we played a true home game," Shapiro said. "The meaning of what home is. Home is Toronto and home is Canada. For our organization and for our players. It's more crystal clear than it ever has been -- a greater sense of appreciation, a greater sense of meaning of what it can be for a competitive drive towards a playoff spot, and really just grateful that we have a chance to be back in front of our fans and part of the recovery for the city, province, and country."

Shapiro then described how excited he is for some of the team's players and staff who have not had a chance to experience a game in Toronto.

"I think about Marcus Semien, Hyun Jin Ryu, George Springer -- players who made a decision to come to the Toronto Blue Jays because Toronto was a big part of that decision," Shapiro said. "Canada was a big part of that decision, and yet they've never played a game as a hometown player."

Shapiro then shared his visions for a dream ending to the tumultuous season.

"Thinking about ending this story with an October we all remember would be the ultimate," he said. "How incredible would it be to think about the journey we've experienced, the uncertainty of last season, playing a 60-game season in Buffalo, playing in three different homes for this season, and finally getting back to the place we all believe in, care about, and feel a bond and tie to, to end that with winning the last game would be one of the greatest baseball stories ever written. That's a story I'd like to be a part of."

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Around the Nest Blue Jays Minor League Podcast - 2021 Episode 10: It was the best of times...

Bluebird Banter 17 July, 2021 - 09:00am

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The Jays are looking to the government for a chance to return home, which could also mean that their triple-A team is going to head back to Buffalo soon and perhaps the Canadians will also get a chance to play summer games at Nat Bailey Stadium this year. We talk about a lot of Blue Jays prospects this week: Kevin Smith in Buffalo, Vinny Capra and Simeon Woods Richardson in New Hampshire, Nick Fraze and Ronnie Brito in Vancouver, and Sem Robberse and Orelvis Martinez down in Dunedin. But we also highlighted some lesser-known players who have contributed: Steward Berroa Thomas Ruwe with the D-Jays, Rothier and Adrian Hernandez for the Canadians, and the Fisher Cats’ Tanner Kirwer.

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