Unvaccinated Players Set to Play in NYC


After a week of uncertainty, it is now official that members of the New York Yankees and the New York Mets will be able to play home games in New York regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status. Mayor Eric Adams announced Thursday that professional athletes and performers will not be required to follow the private sector vaccination mandate that is still in effect for NYC. Adams said this was a tough decision for him to make, but justified it as mainly an economic decision. As New York continues to gradually open back up and recover from the effects of the pandemic, a normal baseball season would certainly give the city a much needed boost. Prior to this announcement, out of state players traveling to play at either Yankee Stadium or Citi Field would have been cleared to participate with or without a vaccination. This move now evens the playing field for the Yankees and Mets, who theoretically would have been shorthanded for nearly half the regular season. 

Although it is clear that neither the Mets or the Yankees reached 100% vaccination levels, it is not known specifically which players remain unvaccinated. There has been speculation around several star players, including Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge. When asked about his vaccination status, Judge seemed to dodge the question and stated the team will “cross that bridge when the time comes.” Last season, the MLB imposed restrictions upon teams in an effort to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks. These restrictions would be loosened if a team reached the threshold of 85% fully vaccinated. Over two-thirds of the 30 teams in the league reached this threshold, though the Mets remain one of the teams that failed to do so. It seems that if the mandate would have stayed in effect, New York baseball would have been in trouble.

The news of the mandate being relaxed for athletes should also please fans of the Brooklyn Nets. Star point guard Kyrie Irving has missed every home game this season so far due to his refusal to get vaccinated. Similar to the MLB, unvaccinated players from away teams could play in New York and Irving was able to compete when the team played in other states. The Nets currently only have six home games left in the season, but Irving will now be able to play in them.

The announcement comes about halfway through spring training games. The Mets are currently 5-3 in exhibition games while the Yankees are 3-6. With all the games taking place in either Arizona or Florida, no teams have been forced to play without unvaccinated players. Opening day for both teams is April 7, with the Mets playing the Nationals and the Yankees playing their rivals the Red Sox. Now that all players will be cleared to play, the Mets and Yankees can fully focus on preparing for the season.