The MLB season has finally been given the green-light, but there is still controversy surrounding one of the league’s biggest cities.
New York City’s COVID policy forbade in-person workers for any New York City-based business – including sports – who are unvaccinated from participating in their in-person work.
This is the same mandate that has been impacting Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets.
Long story short, under this mandate any Yankees or Mets players who are unvaccinated won’t be able to play games in New York. Because the Yankees and Mets each play two road games against each other, that means they would miss 83 of their 162 games.
Toronto shares a similar mandate, and because they share a division with the Yankees, that number would go up to 92 missed games for any unvaccinated Yankees.
The Mets roster falls just short of the 85% vaccination benchmark, and the Yankees only have two names who aren’t vaccinated, but those two names are big.
The two unvaccinated Yankees are speculated to be Aaron Judge and Anthony Rizzo. Judge has been a star for the Yankees since he was called up at the end of the 2016 season, eventually winning Rookie of the Year in 2017. Rizzo was traded to the Yankees at last season’s deadline, and recently re-signed with them.
Luckily for New York sports teams, city Mayor Eric Adams called off the mandate as of March 24, but this decision was met with a lot of backlash.
Well, the mayor didn’t fully repeal the vaccine mandate. Instead, he made an exemption for athletes and performers, so the mandate is still in place for the other 8 million people in the city.
Lots of people who work in the city are furious, and I don’t blame them. If the vaccine isn’t required for athletes and performers, why should it be required for everybody else?
Because of the large paychecks athletes and performers get, some people take it as the mayor favoring the wealthy over the general population.
The mayor’s in a tricky spot right now, as the MLB season is set to open up on April 7, with the Yankees playing at home to start the season.
Not having Judge and Rizzo for 92 games would have been crushing for the Yankees on the field, but it would also be hard on the team and the city financially-speaking.
Just the name ‘Aaron Judge’ brings in enough money to make the mayor repeal this mandate, and Rizzo only adds more money that the team and the city will be missing out on. The Yankees also just gave Rizzo a contract and are negotiating Judge’s extension, so they’d essentially be missing out on over half of what they’re paying for in regards to these two players.
The mayor had to make a quick decision that he felt would be beneficial. After all, he had to make a choice that impacts over 8 million people, that impacts the city’s revenue, and he had to do it fast. He felt that exempting athletes and performers would benefit the stream of revenue, and keeping the mandate would benefit the health of the city’s population.
With that being said, I don’t blame the people of the city for being upset over the lack of integrity on behalf of the mayor.
The bottom line is Judge and Rizzo hit bombs and make plays, and the fans want to see that. Fan attendance at home games is going to drop if two of the stars – especially Judge – are locked out of those games. If the unvaccinated players aren’t allowed to play, everybody loses.