With the Canadian government dropping the requirement that foreign nationals crossing the border be vaccinated could impact MLB postseason play and bring back the Thunder Bay Border Cats (Northwoods League) for the 2023 season.
The Toronto Blue Jays have all but clinched a postseason Wild Card spot, but a concern both for baseball and potential visiting playoff teams has been the requirement that foreign nationals crossing the border be immunized–a requirement that has impacted play this season. Now, with the lifting of those vaccination requirements, MLB teams can cross the border without the problem of leaving players behind.
The move also means there’s a better chance we could see the return of the Thunder Bay Border Cats to the summer-collegiate Northwoods League for the 2023 season. The team hasn’t played since 2019 after the 2020 COVID outbreak; the league, which doesn’t have vaccination requirements, decided that complying with the Canadian limitations would not be feasible for the team and the league.
The timing is good: the league will be issuing a 2023 schedule in November, and the return of the Border Cats and the addition of a new Minot team would keep the league at an even number. From the CBC:
“It was encouraging news when it kind of got leaked out last weekend,” Border Cats vice-president Bryan Graham said Wednesday. “I know it’s still not official yet from the federal government, but certainly it’s good news for the Border Cats moving forward.”…
“The ownership is still committed to the Border Cats and Thunder Bay,” Graham said. “I know a lot of people have missed Border Cats baseball, and we just need the numbers to show up next year because we have been basically … dormant for three years, which has been very tough.”
RELATED STORIES: Border Cats to skip 2022; Mud Puppies to return; Northwoods League adds Mud Puppies travel team; New Thunder Bay Border Cats Owners Unveiled; Thunder Bay drops out of 2021 Northwoods League season