Wildfires upset US sports leagues’ apple cart


MLB games affected by smoke from wild fires Image: Barclays Center, Rhododendrites, CC BY-SA 4.0

The Major League Baseball (MLB) postponed games in New York and Philadelphia (US) on June 7th because of poor air quality caused by smoke from Canada wildfires.

‘The Guardian’ stated that a National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) game in New Jersey and an indoor Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) game set for Brooklyn were also called off on June 7th amid hazy conditions that have raised alarms from the health authorities.

New York (US)-based Major League Baseball (MLB) is a professional baseball organization. One of the major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada, MLB comprises 30 teams, divided equally between the National League and the American League, with 29 in the United States and 1 in Canada.

The National Women’s Soccer League is a professional women’s soccer league at the top of the United States league system. Headquartered in New York City, it is owned by the teams and, until 2020, was under a management contract with the United States Soccer Federation.

Chicago (US)-based the United States Soccer Federation, commonly referred to as U.S. Soccer, is a 501 nonprofit organization and the official governing body of the sport of soccer in the United States.

New York City (US)-based the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) is an American professional basketball league. It is composed of 12 teams, all based in the United States. The league was founded on April 22nd, 1996, as the women’s counterpart to the National Basketball Association (NBA), and league play started in 1997.

‘The Guardian’ further stated that the MLB team New York Yankees’ game against their peer team the Chicago White Sox was rescheduled as part of a doubleheader starting at 4.05 pm on June 8th, and the MLB team Philadelphia Phillies’ game against their peer team the Detroit Tigers was reset for 6.05 pm on June 8th, originally an off day for both the teams.

The MLB said in a statement, “These postponements were determined following conversations throughout the day with medical and weather experts and all of the impacted clubs regarding clearly hazardous air quality conditions in both Cities. The National Weather Service (NWS) issued an air quality alert for New York City, saying, “the New York State Department of Health recommends that individuals consider limiting strenuous outdoor physical activity to reduce the risk of adverse health effects.” In Philadelphia, the NWS issued a Code Red.

Maryland (US)-based the National Weather Service (NWS) is an agency of the United States Federal Government that is tasked with providing weather forecasts, warnings of hazardous weather and other weather-related products to organizations and the public for the purposes of protection, safety and general information.

Code Red refers to the tier between 151 and 200, and it means the air is unhealthy for some members of the public. But everyone in these areas should reduce exposure to pollution, especially those at increased health risk, such as people with asthma.

The Yankees and White Sox played through a lesser haze on the night of June 6th.

The NWSL postponed Orlando Pride’s match at Gotham in Harrison, New Jersey, from the night of June 7th to August 9th.

The NWSL said, “The match could not be safely conducted based on the projected air quality index.”

At the nearby 100,000-capacity Belmont Park in Elmont, the New York Racing Association said training went on as planned ahead of the June 10th Triple Crown horse race (a series of horse races for three-year-old Thoroughbreds).

Jamaica, New York-based the New York Racing Association, Inc. is the not-for-profit corporation that operates the three largest Thoroughbred horse racing tracks in the State of New York, United States: The 40,000-capacity Aqueduct Racetrack in South Ozone Park, Queens, the Belmont Park in Elmont and the 90,000-plus Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs.

Put in Patrick McKenna, Spokesman, New York Racing Association, “The New York Racing Association utilizes external weather services and advanced onsite equipment to monitor weather conditions and air quality in and around Belmont Park. Training was conducted normally on June 7th, and the New York Racing Association will continue to assess the overall environment to ensure the safety of training and racing throughout the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival.”

Later on June 7th, the WNBA announced that a scheduled contest between the Minnesota Lynx and the New York Liberty at Brooklyn’s 19,000-capacity Barclays Center would also be postponed after smoke reportedly entered the arena.

The smoke pouring into the United States East Coast and Midwest on June 7th came from more than 400 blazes in Canada. It has raised alarms from the health authorities about poor air quality.

A number of Minor League Baseball (MiLB) games have also been postponed.

St. Petersburg (US)-based Minor League Baseball (MiLB) is the professional baseball below Major League Baseball, including teams affiliated with the MLB clubs and independent baseball leagues consisting of unaffiliated teams.

Haze Hazards

‘AP’ stated that the Yankees and White Sox played through a lesser haze on night of June 6th. On June 7th, stadium workers and fans arriving early to the ballpark wore face masks for protection in a scene reminiscent of the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Observed Aaron Boone, Yankees Manager, “It was business as usual for me coming in. I got in around 12, 12:30, and didn’t really think too much of it. I actually walked outside about 2 o’clock and was like – like everyone else, like – whoa.”

‘AP’ further stated that the White Sox Manager Pedro Grifol thought the MLB made the right decision postponing the game – “These are health issues, right? So this has got to be it. We’ve been through everything – snow, rain, hail. I don’t think I’ve been through something like this. Today at one point, it was pretty bad out there. We walked out of the dugout and it was kind of orange. They did the right thing. They got all the information.”

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