PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — When the Mets and Yankees got what they wanted, an exemption from Mayor Eric Adams on New York City’s private-sector COVID-19 vaccine mandate, the reaction at their spring training camps seemed to be not so much relief as mere acceptance of what they figured would happen all along.
Neither team expressed much public concern in recent weeks that unvaccinated players would be barred from playing at Yankee Stadium and Citi Field. Adams validated that approach Thursday when he announced that this rule no longer applies to professional athletes.
“We’re very thankful to the mayor for his leadership for being able to bring something I think that’s really good and positive back to New York City,” said Mets union representative Brandon Nimmo, who has declined to specify his vaccination status. “Us being able to bring the product on the field as a team, we’re excited about that.”
Adams’ sudden flip-flop — after a monthslong impasse with the Nets and the unvaccinated Kyrie Irving — came just in time for the NBA playoffs and the MLB regular season. The Yankees open their home schedule on April 7, the Mets on April 15.
Mets manager Buck Showalter called it “a good day for our fans and the city of New York.”
“I appreciate the way everybody has handled it with respect to the people that it affected,” he said, referencing the Mets’ unspecified number of players who have refused to get the shot. “We never looked at it like we were any different. We’re a group together.”
Yankees manager Aaron Boone, speaking in Lakeland, Florida, echoed: “It’s good news. I think it’s the right thing to do at this time.”
Neither Nimmo nor Showalter wanted to discuss the double standard of professional athletes being allowed to work but unheralded people still needing to be vaccinated to work in New York City.
”I understand what that may look like,” Showalter said. “I don’t know enough of the particulars of everything that’s going on. I just know that we were gonna be ready to handle whatever they decided . . . I understand the sensitivity of that. We were certainly very sensitive to that part of it.”
Changing the subject to the mandate previously not applying to visiting players, Nimmo added: “Being penalized for being in New York [as a home player], that was something that the mayor wanted to even the playing field on. I know from that standpoint, he did end up leveling the playing field on that.”
Because Canada still has a vaccine requirement for those entering the country, the Yankees’ unvaccinated players for now are ineligible for nine games in Toronto against the Blue Jays. Their first series there is May 2-4.
The Mets are not scheduled to go to Toronto. That variable would be relevant only if they match up with the Jays in the World Series, a problem Nimmo would be happy to have.
“We gotta get there first,” he said. “I would approach that situation as we did this. I would say, let’s wait until that time comes.”
With Erik Boland