Winnipeg Goldeyes Season Under Canadian Government Control
American Association Daily provides insights and features on the American Association of Professional Baseball League, as well as player and coaching profiles and transactions going on with teams around the league. In today’s edition, Robert Pannier discusses the challenges the Winnipeg Goldeyes face as the Prime Minister of Canada has extended the border closure for another 30 days.
Canadian Government Skeptical of Opening Border
On Wednesday, President Donald Trump introduced his three-phase plan to get the U.S. economy started again. As part of that plan, the President included re-opening the border between the United States and Canada, but that does not mean that border is opening anytime soon. At least, not if Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has anything to do with it.
On Saturday, the Prime Minister extended the border closure for another 30 days. This policy was first implemented on March 21, and will extend until at least May 19, the day the 2020 American Association season is set to begin.
A Legitimate Set of Concerns
While the number of cases in the United States is reaching a million, in Canada the number of reported cases is just over 30,000. Canada would clearly like to keep it that way.
Prior to the pandemic, hundreds of thousands of people travel across the border each day between the two countries, and the concern is that this kind of interaction will mean that border cities and those cities with international airports will be put at severe risk, greatly escalating the number of cases.
“It would be absolutely disastrous for us to open up too early or too quickly, and have another wave hit us that could be just as bad as this one, and find ourselves in the situation of having to go back into quarantine the way we are right now and have everything we’ve done these past weeks be for nothing,” explained the Prime Minister this last Thursday.
This is why Prime Minister Trudeau has made it clear that the country will not re-open its border until some form of vaccine is ready, something that many experts believe is at least a year away. Prime Minister Trudeau is prepared to wait.
“There’s a recognition that as we move forward there will be special thought given to this relationship,” Prime Minister Trudeau said at a daily briefing on Saturday. “But at the same time we know that there is a significant amount of time still before we can talk about loosening such restrictions.”
The Goldeyes Fate in His Hands
For Winnipeg Goldeyes fans, the most difficult part to swallow is the potential year-long wait for a vaccine to be approved. The U.S. President has made it clear that opening the border between the two countries is one of his priorities, but Trudeau is understandably apprehensive about the risks to his country.
That puts the Goldeyes in the toughest situation of all. It could very likely be that states in the Midwest could be returning to some form of normalcy within weeks. In Iowa, Governor Kim Reynolds has tried to keep her state running as close to normal as possible, imposing only a small number of restrictions. South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem has invoked similar policies as neither state has seen widespread outbreaks, prompting both governors to take a more hands-off approach to the pandemic.
In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott has made it clear that he intends to start re-opening his state for business within the next few weeks. His plan to do so will be issued on April 27.
Currently, three teams in the American Association face serious challenges getting underway, including the St. Paul Saints, Milwaukee Milkmen, and Chicago Dogs. These three teams reside in states where more restrictive policies have been implemented. However, in a month those restrictions will likely be greatly reduced, allowing the league to at least seriously consider a plan to play games in empty stadiums.
(I know this a very unp0pular idea that is considered to be ludicrous by some, but the American Association is likely to be only one of two leagues – joining MLB – to have baseball this summer if they opt to play games even without fans attending. This would give them a lot of media attention, including lots of segments on ESPN. Consider that ESPN is showing baseball highlights from China and Taiwan. They may lose money this year, but the publicity would be gold for this league in years to follow.)
By June 1, 11 teams in the league could be ready to play. That leaves only the Goldeyes in limbo, as they wait on the Prime Minister to re-open Canada. If that will not be until a vaccine is approved, this team could be in trouble, but that would also be true of the Toronto Blue Jays and all of the Canadian teams in the Frontier League, not to mention seven NHL teams and the NBA’s Toronto Raptors.
A year-long closing of the border is not feasible if sports teams are going to survive in the country, meaning that it is very likely that the day that the 2020 American Association season is set to begin, the Prime Minister will declare sports an “essential” business, making the teams able to travel between countries (Yes, sports is important to Canada as well).
That is the hope Goldeyes’ fans have to have. No doubt, safety matters greatly, and no one wants to see a resurgence of the virus. People also want to enjoy the things they love and Goldeyes fans are as passionate about their team as any. They wait on the Prime Minister to see if their will be a 27th season in franchise history.
By Robert Pannier