7:26 AM: The Pittsburgh Blue Jays. Like the sound of it? Better get used to it, because it’s apparently going to happen. That’s the report overnight from reporter Hazel Mae and Kaitlyn McGrath of The Athletic, each of whom cite MLB sources. McGrath says the official announcement could come as soon as today.
As previously reported, the Canadian government has prohibited the Toronto Blue Jays from playing their games in the country, citing the risk of travel by players and team staff into Canada from the COVID-19-ridden United States. Two days ago rumors began circling that the Jays and Pirates were considering sharing PNC Park for Jays home games. Also rumored was a possible share of Camden Yards with the Orioles, but that is apparently not happening.
The reason for PNC Park and not some minor league park? It apparently comes down to lighting and clubhouse and training facilities. Multiple people have reported in the past few days that even the best minor league parks’ lighting is not up to big league — or, more to the point, big league broadcasting — standards. There is also concern that the smaller clubhouses and training facilities of minor league parks will not allow for the distancing and safety protocols mandated by MLB rules for this season.
Not that the Pittsburgh Blue Jays and their new stadium mates, the Pirates, are going to have an easy time figuring this all out. As we noted the other day, there are seven Blue Jays home games in the 30-home-game season that, at present, conflict with Pirates home games. For example, the Blue Jays’ scheduled home opener is July 29 vs. the Nationals at 6:37 PM. The Pirates are scheduled to play at home against the Brewers at 7:05 PM that same evening. There are conflicts again on September 8-9, with both teams scheduled to play home games, and again on September 21st, 22nd, 23rd and 24th. They’ll have to figure out a way to schedule around that.
Once they do, however, the Pittsburgh Blue Jays will be a go, it seems.