With air quality in the Bronx registering at “hazardous” levels because of smoke from wildfires in Canada, Major League Baseball postponed a game between the Yankees and the Chicago White Sox, which had been scheduled for 7:05 p.m. on Wednesday at Yankee Stadium.
The game is scheduled to be made up on Thursday as the first game of a single-admission doubleheader, the Yankees said. That could change if the air quality continues to be unhealthy. Manager Aaron Boone said he had been told that conditions were expected to improve, but “obviously we’ll get here and see.”
A game between the Phillies and the Detroit Tigers in Philadelphia was also postponed on Wednesday, as were a W.N.B.A. game between the Minnesota Lynx and the Liberty in Brooklyn and a National Women’s Soccer League contest between the Orlando Pride and Gotham F.C. in Harrison, N.J.
The decision to postpone the M.L.B. games — made at the league level with input from the teams, the players’ union and weather experts — came at 4:30 p.m. Eastern, with the air quality in the Bronx registering at 413 on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Quality Index, according to AirNow. Philadelphia’s A.Q.I. was at 233.
The Yankees and the White Sox played a night game on Tuesday when the A.Q.I. was higher than 150 at the first pitch and higher than 200 shortly after the game ended. (Anything from 101 to 150 is classified as unhealthy for sensitive groups. From 151 to 200 is unhealthy, 201 to 300 is very unhealthy, and anything over 301 is hazardous.)
“One thing we did right away was we canceled batting practice — we were going to do our stuff inside,” Boone said. “I don’t know why I wanted to walk outside, but I just walked out, and you see the orange coming through the doors and you’re like, ‘Whoa!’”
Despite Boone’s decision to cancel batting practice on Wednesday, several players worked out on the field at Yankee Stadium, including Carlos Rodón, a starting pitcher trying to work his way back from the injured list.
“I was just focused on throwing the ball over the plate, really,” Rodón said of his workout. “I didn’t think about the breathing part. But it’s thick air, that’s for sure. I can’t imagine it would be easy to see fly balls.”
Other M.L.B. games in the Northeast were not postponed on Wednesday because the conditions in those cities were not as severe. The Pirates played an afternoon game against the Oakland Athletics in Pittsburgh with an A.Q.I. in excess of 150 at various points. The Guardians were expected to play their night game against the Boston Red Sox in Cleveland with the A.Q.I. at around 100.
While there were numerous complaints from journalists and fans on social media about the decision to play the full schedule of games on Tuesday, players and coaches for the Yankees played down the difficulty. Third baseman Josh Donaldson said that it had seemed foggy but that it had been “nothing out of the ordinary,” and Boone compared it to the smog that teams are used to playing through in Southern California.
One White Sox player said he had felt some adverse affects after Tuesday’s game.
“You know, I had a cough this morning, sore chest — nothing too terrible,” Andrew Vaughn told reporters on Wednesday. “Some of those balls went up and you kind of lose them for a second. It got a little hazy, and you kind of lose them in the lights. It was definitely tough to see.”
A situation similar to this week’s events played out on the West Coast in 2020. The Oakland Athletics and the Seattle Mariners played a September doubleheader that season with an A.Q.I. of 220 at the first pitch, also as a result of wildfires, only for M.L.B. to relocate the Mariners’ next two games to San Francisco after criticism from players and fans.
Benjamin Hoffman and Tyler Kepner