As Canada continues to deal with hundreds of wildfires burning across the country, storm winds have blown smoke down into the United States, leading to poor air quality and eery, hazy conditions in much of the Northeast. Major League Baseball opted not to cancel any games on Tuesday in spite of these conditions, but things have only gotten worse on Wednesday — especially in New York City, where the afternoon sky turned orange and the air quality index (AQI) reached numbers in the “unhealthy” and “very unhealthy” ranges. (According to CBS News, New York City was second only to Delhi, India for the worst air quality and pollution out of 100 tracked countries as of Wednesday morning.)
Some professional baseball games have already been postponed because of the wildfires. The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders and the Syracuse Mets — the Triple-A affiliates of the Yankees and Mets, respectively — both postponed home games on Tuesday night. The RailRiders said the decision was made out of “an abundance of caution for potential health concerns.”
With weather experts expecting the smoke to continue making its way across the region for the rest of the week, here’s everything fans need to know about how MLB has adjusted its schedule in New York and elsewhere.
How wildfire smoke is affecting MLB games
Chicago White Sox vs. New York Yankees
These two teams played beneath a layer of haze at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday night, despite New York mayor Eric Adams’ statement asking residents to “limit outdoor activity to the greatest extent possible”. With conditions becoming more serious on Wednesday, MLB has decided to postpone game two of this three-game series to Thursday afternoon, where it will be part of a doubleheader.
Tonight’s Yankees-White Sox game (Wednesday, June 7) is rescheduled because of poor air quality due to smoke from the Canadian wildfires and will be made up tomorrow, Thursday, June 8, as the first game of a single-admission doubleheader, which will begin at 4:05pm. pic.twitter.com/nx1WxqUaTU— New York Yankees (@Yankees) June 7, 2023
The decision to postpone a game rests with the commissioner’s office, in consultation with the MLBPA. There is precedent for the league canceling games due to air quality concerns: Amid wildfires throughout the Pacific Northwest in 2020, Rob Manfred relocated a scheduled series in Seattle south to San Francisco. The U.S. National Weather Service issued an air quality alert for New York, Bronx, Kings, Queens, Richmond, Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Rockland, Orange and Putnam counties. It was deemed in effect until midnight on Wednesday.
Detroit Tigers vs. Philadelphia Phillies
The commissioner’s office made the same decision in Philly, where the air quality index had also reached dangerous levels — Wednesday’s game between the Tigers and Phillies has been rescheduled for Thursday night.
Tonight’s game between the Phillies and the Detroit Tigers has been rescheduled due to the air quality in the Philadelphia area. The game will be made up on Thursday, June 8, at 6:05 p.m. pic.twitter.com/VIBDrYcBHD— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) June 7, 2023
Houston Astros vs. Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays have not yet canceled their game on Wednesday night, despite Environment Canada increasing Toronto’s air quality risk level. The roof will be closed at Rogers Centre tonight, but it’s worth noting that Environment Canada is predicting that Toronto will reach a seven on the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI). That number indicates a high risk level during the day, and means people may want to consider cancelling outdoor activities.
Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Washington Nationals
The AQI in the nation’s capital has hovered around 150-160 (“unhealthy”) on Wednesday afternoon, but the D-backs and Nationals will play their series opener as scheduled:
Tonight’s game vs. the Arizona Diamondbacks will be played as scheduled. First pitch is set for 7:05 PM.— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) June 7, 2023