In late December, New York City instituted a mandate for private sector employers that, to work in the City, your workforce had to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. This was done to ensure that one of the biggest, densely populated cities on the planet is as protected as possible from serious outbreaks and the resulting crises in hospitals and ICUs.
Today, the City confirmed that the Yankees and Mets fall under the same provisions as everybody else — that is, you cannot work in the City without being vaccinated. All mandates are subject to change with the constantly shifting state of the pandemic, but the City also confirmed that no individual exemptions would be given — any changes to the policy would be a change to the entire policy.
In short, this means that anyone on the Yankees or Mets who isn’t vaccinated is ineligible to play home games, similar to Kyrie Irving’s NBA issues playing in Brooklyn. There is no “outdoor exemption” either, since the bulk of an MLB player’s time — training, film study, recovery, team meetings — is spent in indoor team facilities.
There’s been a lot of speculation as to just who on the Yankees is unvaccinated. There were some stirrings that new Yankee Josh Donaldson was unvaccinated, but although we don’t have confirmation from the player himself, his wife is from Toronto and he regularly spends time in the city, including as recently as October, after vaccination was required for cross border travel. He also attended a Maple Leafs hockey game, again at a time when proof of vaccination was required for entry.
However, the response of a simple “are you vaccinated” question to the Yankees’ unquestioned best player left us all with a very, very disconcerting answer:
#Yankees Aaron Judge was just asked if he’s vaccinated and here is how he responded pic.twitter.com/guXUqm4DHX— Randy Miller (@RandyJMiller) March 15, 2022
This is a very, very bad answer. I can’t imagine why someone who was vaccinated would take so many steps to dodge and avoid a very simple question. It’s possible that Judge is banking on a rule change before the regular season begins and he has to divulge information one way or another, but he’s playing a dangerous game given how important he is to this club.
Of course, there is still the Canadian federal mandate as well, which also bars unvaccinated pro athletes from entry. The mandate states that a player must have received two doses of the vaccine, minimum 21 days apart, and allowed for the entire 14 day immunization process to take place. Therefore, any unvaccinated Yankees would need to receive their first shot by no later than March 28 in order to be eligible for the first game in Toronto on May 2nd.
Combining all Yankees series in Toronto or New York (including those against the Mets), any unvaccinated Yankees — reports vary between 2-3 players — would be ineligible for a staggering 92 games. They would also be on the restricted list and unable to accrue service time or salary unless the Yankees excuse them. The right thing would be to simply get the shots, but I digress.
We’re about to find out just how much being unvaccinated means to certain players on the Yankees. For their part, the Yankees briefly commented that team president and booger Randy Levine is “working with city hall officials” on the matter.