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Getting out of Dunedin: Messing Around With the Schedule

So, reports are in that the Toronto Blue Jays will play their first two homestands, a total of 12 games, in Dunedin, which settles the border issue until at least May 13.

From there things are uncertain but this much we know, the heat and daily rain that commences down there in June puts an onus on the team to start looking for other options. Already there’s speculation about Buffalo which sets up the potential of being “home” in three different locations during the season, but let’s explore some more creative options.

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Let’s start by recognizing that their best practical hope for management is that things resolve to the point that they could hold their “home opener” in Toronto on June 1 against the Marlins. That’s the first of five home games in the early days of June. Doing this would mean their last game in Dunedin would be May 24, minimizing the potential scheduling conflict with the actual Dunedin Blue Jays and getting out of Florida before the weather is intolerable. But if we suppose that June 1 is too soon to be allowed to cross the border – about which I have thoughts but let me finish this one – then it’s tolerable to play these five in Dunedin as well and then go elsewhere starting June 6.

Speaking of border crossing, it seems to me that the logic of last spring has flipped. When the comparison was Trump’s non-effort to control covid versus a Canadian government making mostly right decisions, keeping crossings from the U.S. closed was obvious. However, with the Biden Administration effort ramping up vaccinations and driving down the number of new cases (assuming trends continue) and the Ford government taking a Trumpian approch in Ontario, the incentives appear to be reversed. If the Canadian Federal government isn’t bringing the Ford government to heel, what is the rational of barring entry from the U.S.?

Be that as it may, further speculation will center on how the Jays deal with their June (and somewhat July) schedule if they can’t get into Canada and can’t abide staying in Dunedin. The opportunity does exist, if teams work together and (possible) travel inconveniences can be overlooked.

The next home series after June 6 is a three game set hosting the Yankees June 15-17. Solution? Right in front of their eyes. The Blue Jays visit the Yankees May 25-27, the first road series after three series and 10 games in Dunedin. Simply flip the home team on those two series and problem solved. Obviously the Jays acquire no travel difficulty on the May series, but the June series is nestled between three at Boston and three at Baltimore so they actually save some trips on the June set. On the Yankees side, playing the June set at home poses no travel issue and taking the May set in Florida simply modifies a trip from NY>Toronto>Detroit to NY>Florida>Detroit. A mild inconvenience at worst.

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That clears them up until June 24, whence begins a 10 game homestand featuring four against Baltimore and three each against Seattle and Tampa. If you play those four games in Baltimore they own you four games in Toronto (assuming). Solution: The Jays visit Baltimore September 10-12 for a three game set. Move that to Toronto and play a double header on Saturday. Done and done. Travel wise, it produces the oddity of the Blue Jays playing at Baltimore  seven out of nine games – with two in Miami in between – in June, but no hitch in September. For Baltimore there’s no significant travel difficulties on either end.

The three games with Seattle can be flipped with the three gamer in Seattle August 13-15. For the former series, the Jays would have to fly west for a single series which normally you don’t want to do, but this isn’t a normal year. But there’s an off day for travel the day before the series starts, and the getaway game is already set to be a day game. A little tiresome but doable. On the latter series, it will have the Jays having traveled to the coast for only one series, against the Angels, with a similar circumstance (off day before, ability to play the third game in the daytime). For the Mariners, the first series being at home provides no travel issues at all, and the second connects a trip to Toronto to an eight game road trip that immediately follows, so no significant issue.

Nest we consider the three game set against the Rays, their last scheduled home series before the All Star Break (and which, bizarrely, would have originally had the teams playing a game in Canada on the Fourth of July). These can be flipped with a three game set at Tampa on September 20-22. This is not a scheduling issue on either end for the Jays, nor really for the Rays since in June since Dunedin is, geographically, effectively “home” for travel purposes. In September, there’s no travel issue either, though it puts the Jays in the position of playing six games in mid-September at the home of a tough division rival.

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Coming out of the All Star break on July 16, the Jays have two series, six games, scheduled at home. You would think certainly by mid-July they would be back in Canada but just to play this out a tad further, they would have to be incredibly pro-active to solve this easily since the first three are against the Rangers, and their road trip to Texas is literally the second series of the season and I doubt they go ahead and swap those as an act of foresight before April arrives. The alternative is to play those six games in Buffalo under some special dispensation regarding upgrades and so forth. Do that and the next homestand begins July 30 and if you aren’t back in Canada by then, you probably aren’t going to be.

But getting out of Dunedin in June and not needing to be in Canada until mid-July IS doable. But there’s one major caveat that the players will have to agree to: this plan puts the jays on the road constantly from June 8 to the break, 31 consecutive games. But that, while a slog, is almost certainly better than June in Dunedin.