Marcus Semien came into the 2021 season with one goal.
After a disappointing 2020 ended with the Oakland A’s declining to tender Semien a new contract, the nine-year MLB vet signed a one-year, $18 million deal with the Toronto Blue Jays looking to prove that his 2019 top-3 MVP finish was no fluke.
So far, Semien has met and exceeded expectations for the Blue Jays. He shook off an early slump and started raking from the lead off spot, earning the opportunity to represent Toronto in this year’s All-Star game.
The quick adjustment combined with his return to 2019 form at the plate, all while learning a new position, has provided the steady hand a young Blue Jays team needs if it wants to compete in a loaded NL East.
It’s particularly impressive when you consider Marcus has been able to accomplish all of this despite the Blue Jays being banned from their home ballpark.
Baseball players are big on their routines. Those who have been around the game for years would even go as far as to categorize it as ritualistic. From pregame meals to the route they take to the ballpark, for many athletes this set routine plays a part in their everyday success.
Unfortunately for Semien and the Blue Jays, the Canadian Government enacted a strict travel ban that forced the team to find a temporary home. In one of the most ridiculous solutions in recent memory, the Blue Jays have split time between two minor league ballparks in completely different states.
The Blue Jays began the season at their spring training ballpark in Dunedin, Florida before transitioning to Sahlen Field in Buffalo, NY. Neither of these ballparks is fit to host Major League Baseball, and the players have noticed the difference between their “home” ballpark and the road.
“I’ve enjoyed being on the road this year, just because we’re playing in big league stadiums,” Semien told Toronto media. “It’s a little different here … I do enjoy living here off the field but I think a lot of us wish we were in a big league ballpark. So yes, when you go on the road you may get boo’d or no one cheers for you, but that’s how it is here in Dunedin too.”
The fan experience in Buffalo was much better than in Dunedin, but you still had the same issue; a Major League ball club in a minor league park.
Fortunately for Semien and the Blue Jays, the Canadian Government has finally allowed them to return home to the fan (and hitter) friendly Rogers Centre beginning July 30th. The question now is how much will Semien benefit from the change?
After what has already been a phenomenal season, a strong finish to the 2021 campaign will finally land him the long-term contract he’s proven he deserves.