Vaccine resistance among MLB players is troubling

Unvaccinated major-leaguers who can’t play in Canada hurt their team, society and the image of the United States.

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Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto said he won’t let Canada tell him what to put in his body.

Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto said he won’t let Canada tell him what to put in his body.

Eric Espada/Getty Images

There are things in life I don’t understand.

Why in the 100-plus years since John Harvey Kellogg invented the cereal box hasn’t somebody figured out an easy way to seal the stuff inside so it doesn’t get stale?

There’s one.

Why can’t you ever find a pump needle when you want to inflate a basketball?

There’s two.

And this: Why, for the love of horsehide, does any Major League Baseball player refuse to get a COVID-19 vaccine?

Especially considering that not getting one means you can’t play in Canada, where — hello, all you geographically challenged folks — is where the Blue Jays play.

Think of that. The Royals, on their recent venture across the northern border to play the Jays, showed up without 10 of their rostered players because those dunces won’t get vaccinated.

The group of holdouts included All-Star outfielder Andrew Benintendi, two-time All-Star second baseman Whit Merrifield and three players considered critical to the team’s future: Kyle Isbel, MJ Melendez and Michael A. Taylor.

They all will give some garbled, defensive answer, usually along the lines of, ‘‘I’m healthy, and nobody tells me what to do.’’ (None say they’re flat afraid of needles, which might be a sneaky factor.)

I’m guessing social-media disinformation has a lot to do with refusing to do something that in rational minds is a patriotic, life-saving act. Like believing that the 2020 election was rigged and that we didn’t land on the moon, some lies can’t be hosed away.

It seems 11 teams have been forced to leave players in the United States because the Canadian government requires that people entering its country be vaccinated. Most teams filled those spots vacated by their unvaccinated players with vaccinated minor-leaguers.

Where did the unvaccinated players go during their teams’ ventures into Canada? To the restricted list, where they don’t get paid or accrue service time. So dudes lose money because they won’t get a shot that helps their team and society and doesn’t hurt!

These things, in my veteran years, trouble me more and more. I wish they didn’t, but they do. Because what I see in such pigheadedness and irrationality is something akin to the end of mankind in a flaming ball of insanity.

True to the soundtrack, catcher J.T. Realmuto, who had to stay behind with three teammates when the Phillies played the Jays in Canada, defended himself by stating: ‘‘I’m not going to let Canada tell me what I do and don’t put in my body.’’

Of course not. Those evil Canadians can’t mess with this glorious temple I call me. Makes you wonder if when Realmuto traveled to Canada before COVID whether he drank government-produced water from city pipelines or dipped his own from nearby ponds.

Like I said, this nuttiness truly troubles me. Troubles me beyond the confines of the old ballpark and a game played on grass in the summer sun.

To think that a major-league role model/elite athlete won’t get a swiftly developed, wondrous vaccine that won’t damage him and that assuredly will help fellow citizens makes me wonder about so much, like I don’t really know the world at all.

Clearly, the unvaccinated players don’t care much about their teams or teammates. There are playoff ramifications for the Jays and other American League teams in each game played in Canada. When starters don’t play, that kind of sucks.

Nor does money push the dial. Not when it’s about, uh, me.

‘‘It’s just not worth it,’’ said Realmuto, who lost more than a quarter-million dollars by not playing in the Phillies’ recent series in Toronto. He called it ‘‘a little bit of money.’’ Yeah, I suppose, when you’re working on a five-year, $115.5 million contract. But couldn’t some poor folks have used that money as a quiet gift?

Maybe there’s something about being an American that lines up with a sense of freedom at all costs and a basic distrust of real science. After all, 34 of the 36 unvaccinated players who haven’t been allowed to enter Canada are American-born.

Who are Americans these days? We used to be the best in everything, the proudest, the smartest.

Now? According to the Wall Street Journal, we rank 39th globally in student math performance, 56th in crime rate, 127th in people living in poverty. But, hey-hey, according to, we’re No. 1 in money and power.

We’ve gotta be right up there in selfishness, too. And ignorance.

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