Hey, dumb-dumbs–Blue Jays are actually disadvantaged by COVID-19 border restrictions

Ryan Grosman
4 min readJul 12, 2022


Quick Hit

Photo by David Berding/Getty Images Sport

By @RyanGrosman
July 12, 2022

With the Philadelphia Phillies flying into Toronto for a two-game series starting tonight, the new tradition of “Who’s on the restricted list” began yesterday. With a bang.

The list had some well-known names: J.T. Realmuto, Alec Bohm, Aaron Nola and Kyle Gibson. The latter two of whom, by the way, won’t even be pitching in the series.

This, of course, is followed by another tradition — the incredibly ignorant and delusional stance that the Blue Jays are the biggest beneficiaries of the COVID-19 border restrictions that require travelers entering Canada to be fully vaccinated. That the team has the greatest home field advantage in Major League Baseball.

Contrary to what JoeSchmoe56391 says on Twitter in all-caps, as well as some ignorant media members, the COVID-19 restrictions actually put the Blue Jays at a severe disadvantage. One that no other MLB team has to face.

Why? Because what those Twitiots don’t understand is those border restrictions work both ways. You also have to be vaccinated crossing into the U.S. If you don’t believe me, believe this.

The nonsensical takes and uneducated proclamations were very apparent in April prior to the first round of the NBA playoffs. More specifically, the series between the Philadelphia 76ers and Toronto Raptors. 76er, Matisse Thybulle, could not play in the Toronto games because of his vaccinated status. (Though most would argue, including me, that this actually helped the 76ers.)

From there, the attention turned to the MLB. There were rumblings that a certain New York Yankee star that rhymes with Garon Budge was a non-vaxxer. That never came to pass.

But a dugout load of players from other teams have found themselves not traveling to the Six. Some notable players include former Blue Jay Cy Young winner and current tight pants wearer, Robbie Ray, who is now with the Seattle Mariners. There’s also Kendall Graveman of the Chicago White Sox, Max Kepler of the Minnesota Twins and Anthony Santander of the Baltimore Orioles.

One other key absence was Tanner Houck — the Boston Red Sox closer. His closer spot came up in the Toronto series. But, of course, he was back home watching the Blue Jays come back against his Red Sox on MLB TV. One well-known Boston writer took Houck to the woodshed for not being there for his team.

So this all sounds like a huuuuge competitive advantage for the Blue Jays, right? But Ryan, you said it wasn’t. That’s correct. It’s actually a huuuuge competitive disadvantage for the sole Canadian team.

Let me put it in the simplest terms possible. Because the border restrictions are enforced both ways, if a Blue Jay player is un-vaxxed, he cannot play in 20 markets. That’s 14 AL teams plus six NL teams for the regular season. Conversely, if a player on a U.S. team is un-vaxxed, he cannot play in just one market. Toronto.

So what does this mean? Well, it means the Blue Jays cannot have an unvaccinated player on their roster if they hope to compete for the World Series. It means that, in the off-season, Ross Atkins and the Blue Jays front office weren’t just looking at the WARs and BABIPs and wOBAs of the players they potentially wanted to sign. They were also looking at their COVID-19 vaccination statuses.

So, as it turns out, the Blue Jays couldn’t have resigned Robbie Ray even if they wanted to. Unless they planned to give him the Roger Clemens treatment and just pitch him at home.

This also means, with the August 2 trade deadline looming, the front office once again has an additional box to check when scouting other team’s players. A box that no other team even has. Does the player have all their COVID-19 shots? If the Jays can’t check that box, they can’t trade for that player.

If this wasn’t enough, there was one more way that the Blue Jays were being put behind the eight ball earlier this season. Some teams were taking advantage of the border restrictions to replenish their bullpens. Oh, a few of our starters are on the restricted list? Great. Let’s call up a few fresh bullpen arms to take their place. This was happening enough for MLB to step in and say, Oh, no you don’t, implementing rules against such tactics.

Hopefully the stupid and misguided discourse around the Blue Jays having a “competitive advantage” due to the COVID-19 border restrictions will dissipate as the season progresses. But if I think that, I’m the one who’s ignorant.

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Ryan Grosman

Welcome to Laced — sports with a little something extra. Follow me on Twitter @RyanGrosman