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Rick Zamperin: Border closure throws Toronto Blue Jays a curveball

The Toronto Blue Jays played a MLB intrasquad baseball game in Toronto on Friday, July 10, 2020.
The Toronto Blue Jays played a MLB intrasquad baseball game in Toronto on Friday, July 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio

The way things are going with the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States it’s probably a safe bet the Blue Jays won’t get to play their home games this season in Toronto.

It appears Ottawa and Washington are going to extend the border shut down to non-essential traffic for another 30 days until Aug. 21.

Coronavirus: Trudeau says ‘complex’ situation in the U.S. means no firm timetable on border reopening
Coronavirus: Trudeau says ‘complex’ situation in the U.S. means no firm timetable on border reopening

The current agreement between the two countries is set to expire on July 21, and a recent poll suggest Canadians are strongly opposed to re-opening the border anytime soon.

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Ontario Premier Doug Ford told Global’s Queen’s Park bureau chief Travis Dhanraj that he wants the border to remain closed for “another 60 days minimum,” calling the rising number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States “staggering.”

Canada’s deputy public health officer, Dr. Howard Njoo, piled on Ford’s comments on Tuesday, saying it could be “weeks” or “months” before the border is re-opened to non-essential travel.

Read more: Montoyo hopes Blue Jays can stay in Toronto

And that’s bad news for the Blue Jays, who have just recently begun their summer training camp as the team prepares for the start of Major League Baseball‘s 60-game season later this month.

Allowing the Jays to hold training camp at Rogers Centre is one thing, but allowing American-based baseball teams to continually cross the border — even during a shortened MLB season — is a much different conversation.

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Unless a special exemption is given to U.S. ball clubs, it sounds like the Blue Jays will have to find a new place to play this summer.

But the team’s ‘AAA’ stadium in Buffalo isn’t up to major league standards and their ballpark in Dunedin, Florida, is located in the world’s new COVID-19 epicentre.

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That is the definition of a rock and a hard place.

Rick Zamperin is the assistant program, news and senior sports director at Global News Radio 900 CHML.