12 Jul Canadian Travel Plans
Miners Might Still Be Heading North
Will they or won’t they? Will the Miners be taking a 500-mile trip to the beautiful, French-speaking city of Quebec in a few weeks?
The answer at this moment is: peut-etre… maybe.
The U.S.-Canada border has been closed since March 2020 because of the pandemic, but things have begun to ease up recently with more and more exceptions to the rule, and a full border opening could be coming soon, according to government officials in both countries.
But the Frontier League has a firm deadline looming: July 23.
That was the make-or-break deadline set by the league a month before this season began.
If the border is open by July 23, then the Miners will be traveling to Quebec for a three-game series July 27, 28, and 29. And, there would be a second trip north for another three-game series in Quebec Aug. 31, Sept. 1, and 2.
If the border remains closed on July 23, then the makeshift, one-year team known as Equipe Quebec will continue to play the rest of the season on the road, even if the border opens up after that July 23 deadline.
If the border remains closed on July 23, then those six “road” games become additional home games for the Miners to host Equipe Quebec at Skylands Stadium.
And, whether the border opens by July 23 or not, Equipe Quebec is still due to play a normally scheduled three-game series in Augusta to end the regular season, Sept. 10, 11, and 12.
The U.S. and Canada agreed to close the border last year in an effort to stop the spread of the pandemic.
Since then, both governments have agreed to extend the closure on a month-to-month basis. The current closure agreement expires July 21, which would meet the Frontier League’s July 23 deadline. But another monthly extension of the closure to Aug. 21 would quash any travel to Canada.
The closed border has hit the Big Leagues, as well. That’s the reason the Toronto Blue Jays are playing all of their home games at their Triple-A location in Buffalo.
So far this year, the Miners have a 3-2 record against Quebec, with a sixth game postponed until later in the season. Playing all of its games on the road, Quebec is currently 18-22 and tied with the New York Boulders for first place in the league’s Atlantic Division.
Equipe Quebec was formed out of thin air right before the season started, combining selected players from the Quebec Capitales and the Trois-Rivieres Aigles. The third Canadian team in the league, the Ottawa Titans, took the entire year off, due to return in 2022.
If the border does open by July 23, then the Jackals would get to visit Stade Canac, a 4,300-seat ballpark on the banks of the peaceful St. Charles River a mile before it empties into the mighty St. Lawrence River. Originally named Stade Municipal when it opened in 1939, it is now named after the Canac hardware store chain.
Division Race Will Intensify
So far, the Miners have only faced their in-state rival, the New Jersey Jackals, four times this year, in the battle for the top spot in the Frontier League’s Northeast Division.
But they’ll get to know each a lot better from here on out.
Including rained-out makeup games, the Miners and Jackals will square off in14 games over the rest of the season, beginning tomorrow night with a three-game series at Yogi Berra Stadium.
In their first two series, Sussex County won three out of four games, with two games postponed.
The Miners travel to Little Falls with a first-place record of 25-12, winning four of their last five, including Sunday’s 4-3 decision over Tri-City.
The Jackals will take the field with a 19-18 record, six games behind the Miners. New Jersey is in the middle of a 12-game homestand – the longest of the year – and has rebounded from a four-game losing streak with two straight victories, including Sunday’s 7-4 win over Quebec.
Outfielder Chuck Taylor is one of four players who have appeared in all 37 games so far this year, and he’s currently sporting a .333 batting average, while leading the team in hits, RBIs, and walks. A fourth-round draft choice in 2012, the 27-year-old from Arlington, Tex., spent eight seasons with farm teams from the Arizona Diamondbacks, Seattle Mariners, and Washington Nationals before arriving in Augusta.
Infielders Cito Culver and Audy Ciriaco, and outfielder Aaron Knapp, are the other Miners who have appeared in every one of the team’s games so far.
Outfielder Martin Figueroa returned from the Injured List last week and took up right where he left off two weeks ago, now batting .333 over 28 games, while leading the team with 12 stolen bases.
Infielder Kaleo Johnson has made a big first impression at Skylands ever since he arrived in town June 29. The 24-year-old from California started the year playing Double-A ball with the Tampa Bay Rays. In nine games as a Miner, he’s batting .379.
So far this year, the Miners have used 21 position players and 14 different pitchers. In a strange statistical coincidence, the Jackals have done just the opposite, using just 14 position players while handing the ball to 21 different pitchers.
By Carl Barbati, former sports editor of the New Jersey Herald, Daily Record and The Trentonian.