John Smoltz and Al Leiter will no longer appear in-studio at MLB Network after refusing the COVID-19 vaccine according to Andrew Marchand of the New York Post. According to Marchand, Smoltz and Leiter will no longer be allowed in the Seacacus studios, but they will appear remotely.
This is an exceedingly gracious move by MLB Network to allow Smoltz and Leiter to remain on-air despite the fact that they are not willing to do something that has been required of all of their coworkers.
Smoltz will still call a division series in October. No word yet on whether he'll work that from his home or be allowed to travel around the country in one of Kirk Cousins' plexiglass boxes. Either way, I'm sure whoever is vaccinated and calling the games with Smoltz will not find it awkward at all.
There doesn't appear to be anything online about either ex-ballplayer's views on the pandemic, but Al Leiter did apear alongside then-New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and CC Sabathia at a COVID-19 briefing back in March announcing that fans would be allowed at Mets and Yankees games this season. Leiter spoke, but did not specifically mention anything about the pandemic.
Considering the fact that the pandemic is not slowing down, you have to wonder what this means for the futures of Leiter and Smoltz at MLB Network after this season ends. If America is still battling COVID-19 next spring, which seems inevitable, will they have them back if still unvaccinated?
Smoltz won a Sports Emmy for his work calling games of FOX this year. It's unclear what protocols regular FOX has for employees, but we at least know what FOX News is requiring unvaccinated employees to wear masks in small spaces. Like, say, a broadcast booth?
So this seems like a situation worth monitoring. If Smoltz won't get vaccinated then this this could turn into one of the premiere baseball broadcasting talents putting his job(s) on the line.