A compressed schedule as a result of the coronavirus pandemic has led Major League Baseball to find creative solutions to get a 60-game season in by October. That perseverance took a turn toward dangerous on Monday when the Oakland Athletics and the Seattle Mariners played a doubleheader despite wildfires on the West Coast resulting in the air quality in Seattle being rated as “very unhealthy.”
The wildfires, which have resulted in enormous damage, along with plenty of dystopian images from California, Oregon and Washington, have brought Air Quality Index into the public vernacular. At the start of the first game in Seattle on Monday, the A.Q.I. was 220, according to AirNow, and it reached 240 during game play — anything over 200 carries increased health risks for anyone outdoors, with strenuous activity heavily discouraged.
Oakland Manager Bob Melvin said in a postgame video conference that his team had not been consulted about whether the games should proceed, and that he had been under the impression that games would not be played with an A.Q.I. in excess of 200. According to The Seattle Times, M.L.B. does not have guidelines or a stated threshold for A.Q.I.
“I’m a healthy 22-year-old,” said Jesus Luzardo, Oakland’s starting pitcher in the first game of the doubleheader. “I shouldn’t be gasping for air or missing oxygen. I’ll leave it at that.”
The teams split the doubleheader, with the Mariners winning the first game, 6-5, and the A’s taking the second, 9-0.
Seattle center fielder Kyle Lewis, who robbed Ramon Laureano of a grand slam in the first inning of the second game, talked afterward about the strange scene.
“I think it was OK breathing, but we definitely noticed it,” Lewis told reporters. “The sky was all foggy and smoky; it definitely wasn’t a normal situation, definitely a little weird.’”