J.T. Realmuto’s vaccination comments are incredibly disappointing
J.T. Realmuto’s vaccination comments infuriate Phillies fans
The term “adds insult to injury” has never rung truer than this week in the Philadelphia Phillies clubhouse, as the team prepares to fly to Toronto to play the Blue Jays for two games.
Or to be more precise, part of the team.
After all, unvaccinated people are not allowed into Canada, so Aaron Nola, Kyle Gibson, Alec Bohm, and J.T. Realmuto will be staying behind. The unvaccinated quartet will be on the restricted list, meaning they’re forfeiting their pay and service time during the two-game set.
Understandably, many Phillies fans are frustrated. Every game is crucial during a Wild Card hunt, and the team is already without several key players, most notably, Bryce Harper. Losing their everyday catcher and one of their hottest hitters won’t make the series any easier.
Realmuto only made the situation worse with his postgame comments on Monday night.
"“J.T. Realmuto said he consulted with doctors he knew and decided he did not need a COVID vaccine. He will forfeit close to $260,000. “I’m not going to let Canada tell me what I do and don’t put in my body for a little bit of money,” Realmuto said. “It’s just not worth it.”via Matt Gelb, The Athletic"
Remaining unvaccinated is Realmuto’s choice, albeit one with which I vehemently disagree. But what I (and several fans on Twitter) took issue with was the way he discussed the situation, especially that he focused on the loss of money more than how his absence hurts the team.
There are so many outrageous soundbites to choose from in Realmuto’s postgame comments. He described his vaccination status – or lack thereof – as “an extremely unfortunate situation,” which is an interesting way of describing an extremely avoidable situation. He noted also noted “how badly” he wants “to be out there” with his teammates. Not badly enough to get vaccinated, though.
Then, Realmuto revealed that he “didn’t feel the need to get [vaccinated]” because he’s a strong, young athlete who’s already “had COVID a couple of times.” Being a healthy athlete didn’t stop Detroit Tigers pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez from developing myocarditis and missing the entire 2020 season, or Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum from suddenly needing an inhaler to help him breathe, months after getting COVID in 2021.
There was also the very relatable bit when he called over a quarter of a million dollars “a little bit of money.” Fans really latched on to that bit of cavalier commentary.
Finally, the old refrain, “I wasn’t going to take it just because I was told to,” followed by, “I’m not going to let Canada tell me what I do and don’t put in my body.”
How brave of you, sir. You really showed Canada.
The funniest thing about people who play the anti-vaxxer’s greatest hits is that they really think they’re inventing the wheel. Realmuto is certainly taking a stand by forfeiting more money than most Americans make in half a decade. He’s definitely sticking it to Canada by sitting at home while his team has to figure out how to beat the Blue Jays. And he’s absolutely not a bad teammate for going on about how hard this is for him when it’s a situation of his own creation.
Smiling while delivering bad news just like Rob Manfred the day he announced the season delay during the lockout, Realmuto probably thought he was making his case. But instead of coming off like some kind of martyr, he appeared an insolent, stubborn boy who thinks he knows better than licensed medical professionals. It’s hard to believe he consulted any, by the way, given that the American Medical Association reports that 96% of doctors are fully vaccinated and 45% of those unvaccinated were planning to do so. In other words, the only way Realmuto got someone to back him is if he found a needle in a haystack.
What makes all of this even more frustrating is that in addition to sitting out this series, Realmuto could get COVID again, taking him out of the lineup for a longer stretch of time. He’s already had it multiple times, and the Mayo Clinic cautions that unvaccinated people who’ve had COVID are “more than twice as likely” to be reinfected than vaccinated people.
Realmuto’s stance is somewhat surprising, given what’s at stake, but apparently, the prospect of ending the longest postseason appearance drought in the National League isn’t a pressing enough issue. You’d think he’d be more motivated in that regard, seeing as he and Jean Segura are the current leaders in career games played without appearing in the postseason.
The saddest thing of all is that it’s clear nothing will change his mind. He won’t get vaccinated for the money, for his team, or even for himself.