Electing not to receive the COVID-19 vaccine was Tanner Houck’s right, but the Red Sox series in Toronto serves as a reminder he’s not without blame.
Houck is a professional athlete who elected not to follow Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, so he was not permitted to travel into the country. Given Boston is in the Blue Jays’ division, that serves as a relatively major issue moving forward. The Jays are expected to contend in the AL East this season, and Canada’s government hasn’t hinted at removing aforementioned vaccine requirement.
With all of this in mind, I want to make it clear that this article is not a personal opinion. I do not think Houck should be held down by force and injected with a potentially life-saving vaccine. He did, however, open himself up to blame when he went on the record about his ‘personal choice’.
Through two games on the road in Toronto, the absence of Houck has certainly impacted his team in a negative way.
Red Sox could use Tanner Houck against the Blue Jays
Houck was meant to start in this series — likely one of these first two games Boston has already lost — and it has put the Sox in a bind. Now, with a shorthanded bullpen and a rotation in flux, they must find a way to escape Canada with a split, or at the very least not a four-game sweep.
This Red Sox team is flawed in many ways. First and foremost, the offense has been a disaster at times. But Houck’s absence is duly noted, especially for a player who said he would do whatever it takes to help his team win.
On Tuesday night, the Sox blew a 5-2 ninth inning lead. Houck’s absence forced Garrett Whitlock to pitch in a role he wasn’t previously comfortable with, and made him unavailable for that critical ninth inning. Boston would lose in extra innings.
It’s easy to point fingers. Sure, the lineup ought to be more efficient given the sum of its parts. Yes, the remaining players in the bullpen, namely Jake Diekman, ought to fare better even against the mighty Blue Jays lineup.
But Houck put the Sox behind the eight ball. Surely even the most devoted Boston supporters can see that.