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TAMPA, Fla. — Some Mets and Yankees players may not be able to play in New York when the 2022 Major League Baseball season begins next month due to a city vaccination mandate.
Under a New York City ordinance enacted Dec. 27, people who perform in-person work or interact with the public as part of their business must show proof that they “have received a COVID-19 vaccine.” . Evidence of vaccination must show that a worker is fully immunized, has received a single dose vaccine, or, if only the first injection of a two-dose vaccine has been given, there must be evidence of a plan to receive the second dose within 45 days of the first.
While Mayor Eric Adams eased some vaccine requirements this month, he left the private sector mandate in place. According to the mayor’s office, the settlement applies to the Mets and Yankees, whose home stadiums are Citi Field in Queens and Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.
The Yankees open the season on April 7 with a home game against the Boston Red Sox. The Mets’ home opener is against the Arizona Diamondbacks on April 15. With those games several weeks away, the mayor’s office said it could not predict whether circumstances might change in the interim.
The tenure has been a point of contention for Nets guard Kyrie Irving and NBA Irving has only played in 19 of the team’s 69 games – including when he scored 41 points in the first half of a game on the road Tuesday against the Orlando Magic – in part because he is not vaccinated against Covid-19 and regulations prohibit him from playing at home. Irving is allowed to play in road games where cities don’t have a vaccination mandate.
(The private sector mandate grants an exception for visiting professional athletes and anyone accompanying them, as well as performing artists and college athletes.)
On Monday, the NBA fined the Nets $50,000 for allowing Irving into the team’s locker room during Sunday’s game against the Knicks. While he was permitted to attend the game, he was not permitted to be at the team facility at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
If the city’s mandate didn’t change by MLB teams’ first home games, it would likely affect the Mets more than the Yankees.
At the end of last season, the Mets were among six teams (of 30 in MLB) that had not met the league’s 85% vaccination threshold that allowed teams to relax pandemic protocols. The Yankees reached the vaccination threshold, but they suffered multiple outbreaks of the virus – many of which were breakthrough cases.
When asked Tuesday if he was vaccinated, given the city’s tenure, Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge said, “I’m so focused on getting those first spring training games, so I think we’ll cross that bridge when the time comes. But right now, so much could change. So I’m not really too worried about that at the moment.
Judge was placed on the league’s Covid-19 injured list after attending July’s 2021 All-Star Game in Denver and testing positive for the coronavirus. He missed nine games. Due to other positive cases, potential exposures and testing, the league postponed the Yankees’ first game after the All-Star break on July 15 against Boston, which had not reached the vaccination threshold.
The Red Sox, who experienced a major virus outbreak last season, were the only one of 10 playoff teams last year not to reach that level. Since arriving at spring training, Red Sox players such as Xander Bogaerts and Christian Arroyo have told reporters they have since been vaccinated.
MLB and the players’ union each declined to comment on Tuesday, as did the Mets.
“On behalf of the Yankees, Randy Levine is working with City Hall and all other appropriate officials on this matter,” a Yankees spokesperson said in a statement, referring to the team president, a former deputy mayor of the city. “We will have no further comment at this time.”
Over the weekend, Yankees manager Aaron Boone told reporters he was worried his players couldn’t play in Canada, saying: “We still have a few guys, at least, who aren’t vaccinated. .”
Canadian border restrictions currently do not allow unvaccinated foreign visitors to enter the country without special exemptions. And a special status issued by the Canadian government for unvaccinated athletes, which allowed them to get through last year, ended in January.
As MLB and the union negotiated a new labor agreement, they also agreed that any player who cannot participate in any games due to any government regulations due to their vaccination status “may be placed” temporarily on the restricted list. , where salary and service time are lost. Service time determines players’ eligibility for salary arbitration and free agency.
The Yankees are in the same division as the Blue Jays and will play nine games in Toronto this season.
Despite initial resistance from many players last year, vaccination numbers have steadily increased in MLB. By the end of the season, 88% of all players and key personnel were fully vaccinated. Still, some team managers have been openly frustrated during the season with their players’ reluctance to get vaccinated.
Vaccination rates are higher in other professional leagues, such as the NBA and NHL, which also have Canadian-based teams.