The smoky haze caused by the on-going Canadian wildfires that covered pretty much the entire Tri-State area resulted in, by early Wednesday afternoon, a full ground stop at LaGuardia and Newark International airports.
The smoke put a stop to a lot more than that in the Northeast, including Wednesday night’s White Sox/Yankees game at the Stadium.
Major League Baseball announced at just after 4:30 p.m. the game had been postponed, to be made up as a part of a Thursday doubleheader, with the first game starting at 4 p.m. (the Tigers/Phillies game in Philadelphia was also postponed).
Luis Severino will start the first game and righty pitching prospect Randy Vazquez will take the mound for Game 2.
Aaron Boone said the day had been “business as usual” for him as he arrived at the Stadium a little past noon. But when he stepped outside the home dugout around 2 p.m., and saw the hazy conditions, complete with an orangish hue that gave the Stadium the feel of some kind of futuristic movie being shot on the surface of Mars, the manager’s thoughts mirrored many people’s.
“Like everyone else, (I was), like, ‘Whoa,’” Boone said. “My reaction was similar to Major League Baseball and the world reaction. Circumstances changed and it became apparent (it should be postponed).”
But as of 2 p.m. the Yankees were under the impression, because of their latest conversation with MLB, the game was still on, causing some irritation inside the organization.
“Really not sure what they’re waiting for,” one club official said, referencing various outlets having already given the Bronx an air quality rating of “hazardous” by early Wednesday afternoon.
As of late Tuesday night, according to IQair, New York City had the second-worst level of air pollution in the world, second only to New Delhi, India. According to CNN, some other cities listed were Doha, Qatar; Baghdad, Iraq; and Lahore, Pakistan.
Before 2 p.m. Wednesday, the Yankees had already canceled batting practice and by 2:30, the White Sox had done the same, the batting cage soon rolled back to its home in left-center and tucked away before 3.
It wasn’t until a 4 p.m. meeting that involved MLB and representatives from the affected clubs that the decision was made.
“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,” MLB said in a statement.
Shortly before that meeting, rehabbing Yankees pitcher Carlos Rodon threw a 20-pitch simulated game, the first time the lefthander, who started the season on the IL with a forearm strain, faced hitters in the process.
“A little cloudy out there,” Rodon said with a laugh. “The visibility’s not so great. It was interesting.”
Speaking about an hour before Wednesday’s game was called, Rodon was asked if he thought it would be “tough” to play later.
“I can’t imagine it would be easy,” Rodon said. “Imagine (seeing) a fly ball a little later at night…I remember yesterday (Tuesday night) it was pretty hazy out there and I’d see some foul balls go up and I couldn’t even see ‘em off the bat until they started coming down. And yesterday was better than today, I feel like, right? It would tough to see fly balls at least.”
The White Sox won the first game of the series, 3-2, Tuesday night, the conditions then, as Rodon said, smoky. Though the Yankees downplayed it overall afterward.
Boone drew comparisons to some of the “smoggy days” he played in growing up in Southern California and veteran Josh Donaldson allowed that it was a “a little bit foggy but nothing out of the ordinary.”
Whether that was nothing-bothers-us posturing from the losing side or something else, as Boone said late Wednesday afternoon, “circumstances” clearly had changed.