Over the last few weeks, several people and even a handful of teams have reached out on social media to ask which ballparks I’ll be visiting this season.
The truth is, I wish I knew.
Last year was the first year since 1987 that I didn’t attend at least one live baseball game, and as difficult as that was, I hoped throughout the summer, fall and winter that 2021 would be different. At this point, though, I’m simply not sure how this season will play out.
As much as it was very exciting to watch Minor League Baseball play games last night for the first time since 2019, it was bittersweet for me to follow the action from home — not because I ever attend MiLB Opening Day, but because this time of the year is usually filled with a tremendous level of excitement as I make travel plans for the coming months. As I browsed social media and watched a ballgame on TV last night, I couldn’t help but think about how my suitcase has remained in the closet since the summer of 2019, and what a weird thing that is.
There are a couple of obstacles facing my ability to travel, at least in the immediate future. As some of you probably know, I live in Canada. The Canada-U.S. border has been closed to non-essential travel since March of 2020 and isn’t showing any signs of opening soon. There are suggestions that it could open late this summer or early this fall, but a lot of positive things have to happen on both sides of the border between now and then. Additionally, I don’t want to travel until I’ve been vaccinated, and while many of my American friends have received their shots already, the vaccination rollout in Canada has been a little underwhelming, to put it mildly. I’ve been spending a lot of time trying to get my vaccination booked, but a current vaccine shortage in my province of Ontario means that I’ll be lucky to get my first shot before the end of May. If that happens — and I’m hopeful that it does — I’d likely be looking at my second shot in August or September.
All this to say, when people ask what my plans are for the 2021 season, I’m not being evasive when I say they’re really up in the air at this point.
So, what’s the glass half-full scenario?
In a perfect world, I’ll be fully vaccinated by the time the border opens in September. This could give me the ability to squeeze in some travel before the end of the regular season. Depending on how much time I have, my road trip plans might focus on some parks that are close, like Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Cleveland and Pittsburgh. Or, if I have time to put together a bigger trip, I might fly to Texas, North Carolina, Florida or Maryland.
What about hitting some games in Canada? That’s an option that sounds good in theory, but that isn’t as easy as it might seem. I’d love to see the Blue Jays in Toronto, but they’re currently playing their home games in Dunedin and will relocate to Buffalo next month. Experts suggest that it’s unlikely the team will return to Toronto in 2021.
The High-A Vancouver Canadians are starting 2021 in Hillsboro because of the closed border. The American Association’s Winnipeg Goldeyes, which played their home games in Fargo last summer, will also start their 2021 campaign in the U.S. The Frontier League seemed like it might be a possibility, with teams in Ottawa, Trois-Rivières and Québec City. Unfortunately, players from the three Canadian teams will form a travel team south of the border. While there’s plenty of “We hope to return home sometime this summer” talk from these teams, what will actually happen is anyone’s guess.
So, as painful as it is to say, it’s entirely possible that I don’t see any live baseball in 2021.
While you probably won’t see many posts on this blog over the course of the season, I can assure you that this blog isn’t dead. Far from it. As soon as I’m able to pack my bags and hit the road, I’ll be back to bringing you the stories about my adventures, just as I’ve done since I started this blog in 2011.
In the meantime, I hope you’ll check out my website and the blog that I’ve recently launched on that site. The site is filled with guides to MLB and MiLB ballparks that will help you to plan your trips, and the blog, which you may not have yet seen, features posts that will also help in that regard.
It’ll be a bummer if I can’t see any baseball this season, but if the world returns to some degree of “normal” and I’m able to travel in 2022, I’m telling you right now that there will be some epic adventures. I’m already mulling over a lot of possibilities, including some that are more ambitious than anything I’ve done so far.
Until then, I hope you and your family are healthy and that you’re able to attend some games this summer. And I look forward to seeing you in person at ballparks around the country as soon as I’m able.