blue jays mlb minute

MLB Minute: Blue Jays, Covid Rules & More!

JFtC Brings You Blue Jays Coloured Snapshots Of The MLB Landscape. This week, the first MLB roster restrictions due to Canadian COVID protocols and more!


Featured Images Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase


 


 

* Prior to their three game series in Toronto, the Oakland Athletics placed catcher Austin Allen and relievers AJ Puk and former Blue Jay Kirby Snead on the Restricted List. While MLB players are not required to publicly disclose their vaccination status, it does not take a calculator to add up the assumptions that these 3 players do not meet the required vaccination standards to allow for travel to Canada. Snead is a particularly puzzling case, as he was on the 40-man roster prior to his inclusion in the Matt Chapman trade and Toronto had reported 100% of their roster was fully vaccinated.

Reports circulated during Spring Training that several MLB teams, including the rival Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, were concerned about the compliance by several of their players to be able to travel with their teams to Toronto this season. With the Red Sox coming to the Rogers Centre this Tuesday for a three game set, Blue Jays fans will be scouring the transaction wire Monday and Tuesday to learn who will not be available for the series. Jon Heyman and multiple Boston media and fan sites have pointed to Chris Sale, Xander Bogaerts, Christian Arroyo and Josh Taylor as likely candidates to be placed on the Restricted List prior to all 8 games the team will play on the road in Canada. Sale remains on the IL for this first trip, but if reports are accurate the Red Sox will need to scramble to fill 3 roster spots. When the Yankees come to town, it is expected that Aaron Judge and Kyle Higashioka will not be on the team charter.

Fans and select media pundits have suggested that the governmental restrictions will provide the Blue Jays a competitive advantage throughout the season. In light of New York City Mayor Eric Adams lifting restrictions for visiting and hometown athletes and entertainers, the outcry for legal intervention by either MLB or legislatures has thus far remains a muffled mumble. The Provincial and Federal travel mandates were known during the CBA negotiations and special exemptions for athletes were repealed as of January 15, 2022. Major league front offices have been forced to navigate differing COVID compliance regulations for more then 2 years now. If they have been unable or unwilling to ensure compliance amongst their players, they must be willing to make whatever roster adjustments required for roadtrips into Canada. Players must also acknowledge the implications of their decision not to be vaccinated-including unpaid time on the Restricted List and a temporary freeze on service time while being inactive.

 

* Some rather unorthodox managerial decisions have had baseball fans scratching their heads and howling their protests. The debates began when Dodgers manager Dave Roberts removed veteran left-handed starter Clayton Kershaw after seven innings of a perfect game, despite only throwing 77 pitches. Roberts and Kershaw were adamant in their support of the decision, citing the shortened Spring Training schedule and Kershaw’s recent injury issues as rationale. Naturally baseball “purists” reacted as if federal laws (not just unwritten rules of baseball) had been violated. It appeared as though even casual baseball fans thought the decision denied the player and the fanbase of a chance to realize historical infamy.

Friday night saw Angels manager Joe Maddon order an intentional walk of Texas Ranger shortstop Corey Seager with the bases loaded in a 3-2 ballgame in the fourth inning. Even Angels star Mike Trout could not hide his dismay over the decision. This strategy had been employed for only the third time since 1950, including Maddon walking Josh Hamilton in 2008 and Barry Bonds being issued an RBI walk by Buck Showalter ten years before that.

The Blue Jays experienced a similar outcry during the 2020 playoffs. Charlie Montoyo followed the pre-game plan distributed by the front office and removed  Matt Shoemaker after just 3 innings of 2-hit, shutout ball. Truth be told, all 30 MLB managers and front offices are not beholden to fans or media when executing game plans. Roberts had his sights on October, not the history books when he lifted Kershaw. No Kershaw, no World Series for the Dodgers. It should be noted that in all 3 instances, the teams who issued the base-loaded RBI walks ultimately won their games. It is fun to debate amongst ourselves the merits of in-game decision making. We just should not expect major league managers and teams to ask for our approval first.

 

* This past Friday, all 30 teams and MLB at large celebrated the 75th anniversary of Jackie Robinson appearing in a major league game and breaking the color barrier in professional baseball. The historical and cultural impact of this moment is rightly hailed as a landmark moment every season. But perhaps it may be time for MLB to also celebrate the legacy of Hall of Famer Larry DobyDoby was the first African American player to take the field for an American League game, entering the game as a pinch-hitter for his Cleveland Indians against the Chicago White Sox on July 5, 1947.

The story of Robinson’s heroic performances on the field and off, Doby was selected by Bill Veeck specifically to integrate the American League due to his strength of character. While Robinson was born in the American South, his family moved to California when he was young. Doby spent the first 14 years of his life in segregated rural South Carolina, where he recalled ” we did not have baseball bats-we used well worn broom handles. We used a tree and tin cans for bases.” Both Robinson and Doby experienced isolation and prejudice in Pasadena and Paterson, NJ, but Doby was forced to live with his grandmother and various relatives while Robinson did have the stability of living with his mother and siblings.

Doby was the first Negro League player to go directly to the major leagues, joining the Indians one day after being purchased from the Newark Eagles. He was selected to 7 consecutive All-Star Games, joined Don Newcombe as one of the first Americans to play professionally in Japan. In 1978, Doby became the second black manager in the majors when he was hired by Veeck to manage the White Sox in 1978.

This is not meant to minimize the contributions Jackie Robinson made to the sport of baseball and to the advancement of African Americans in American society. But now that the 75th anniversary of his first major league game is in the record books, perhaps it is time to encourage the evolution of April 15th into African American Day in MLB. And to allow more focus on the accomplishment of all players of colour in the years following the end of legal segregation. Larry Doby was not the first black major league player and was the second black manager. But his story is as impactful.

 

 

 

*Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.

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Fek

Jersey born, Pittsburgh resident, baseball lifer. Staff Writer jaysfromthecouch.com. Host THE ON FEK CIRCLE on JFtC YouTube Channel. Regular guest on Jays From the couch Radio Podcast. Established WPPJ Rock-a-thon benefit, which has been broadcast annually since 1981 and has raised for than $500,000 for the Early Learning Institute of Pittsburgh. IBWAA member.