The Yankees announced that Wednesday night’s game against the Chicago White Sox at Yankee Stadium has been postponed because of the poor air quality due to smoke from the Canadian wildfires.
The two teams will play a single-admission doubleheader on Thursday, though it remains to be seen if conditions will improve by then. The Phillies had their home game against the Tigers postponed as well on Wednesday.
Major League Baseball had been monitoring the hazy situation in New York City and above Yankee Stadium and consulting with medial and weather experts, a major league source told the Daily News earlier on Wednesday. The source spoke on the condition of anonymity so that they could share information freely after the Yankees and White Sox played beneath the smog on Tuesday as fans watched — despite the air quality index (AQI) reaching levels deemed “unhealthy” and “very unhealthy” by the Environmental Protection Agency.
“I wasn’t really affected by it last night,” Aaron Boone said after impacted teams met with MLB late Wednesday afternoon. “But I know that some of you guys were, especially in the press box and stuff. So I think all that goes into consideration. Like not a great position for people to be sitting outside.”
Per the EPA, an AQI in the 0-50 range is considered “good.” The 101-150 range is considered “unhealthy for sensitive groups,” such as “children and adults who are active outdoors” and people with medical and/or exposure conditions, including lung diseases. The 151-200 range is considered generally “unhealthy,” while the 201-300 range is “very unhealthy.” Anything above that is considered “hazardous.”
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.
“Air quality levels in outdoor air are predicted to be greater than an Air Quality Index value of 100 for the pollutant of Fine Particulates,” the alert reads, in part.
“When pollution levels are elevated, the New York State Department of Health recommends that individuals consider limiting strenuous outdoor physical activity to reduce the risk of adverse health effects. People who may be especially sensitive to the effects of elevated levels of pollutants include the very young, and those with preexisting respiratory problems such as asthma or heart disease. Those with symptoms should consider consulting their personal physician.”
A Yankees spokesperson noted Tuesday that postponing a game in this situation is MLB’s decision, while the source added that the league office consults the Players Association on such matters.
“We recommend all New Yorkers limit outdoor activity to the greatest extent possible,” Mayor Adams said in statement Tuesday. “Those with preexisting respiratory problems, like heart or breathing problems, as well as children and older adults, may be especially sensitive and should stay indoors at this time. While all students should still go to school tomorrow, New York City public schools will not offer any outdoor activities on Wednesday. These recommendations may change based on updated air quality conditions that come in, but, in the meantime, we recommend all New Yorkers to take the precautions they see fit to protect their health.”
Boone said that the Yankees cancelled outside batting practice long before Wednesday’s game was called off, and players were told to do their pregame work inside. But the rehabbing Carlos Rodon expectedly threw to Oswaldo Cabrera and Jake Bauers on the Yankee Stadium mound.
“We just decided we were gonna do it and everyone was on board with it,” Boone said of Rodon throwing outside.
MLB has adjusted its schedule over AQI concerns in the past, including in September 2020, when the Mariners temporarily relocated to San Francisco due to such issues.
The Yankees and Mets’ Triple-A affiliates in Scranton and Syracuse had their games postponed on Tuesday due to “poor air quality.” The source said that “the conditions there were much more significant than those in New York City.”
The source added that MLB “would not hesitate” to postpone a game if medical and weather experts recommended such measures. “Or if the local health departments or other relevant agencies encouraged their communities to refrain in some way, whether specific to baseball or outdoor activities more broadly,” the source continued.
Some Yankees didn’t mind or notice the smoke on Tuesday night.
“Growing up in Southern California, we had some smoggy days sometimes that I remember,” said Boone, who had a pacemaker inserted in 2021. “Sometimes in the summertime, you’d play in the valley or something and there’d be smoggy days where you noticed it. I didn’t notice anything tonight.”
Added third baseman Josh Donaldson: “Seemed like it was a little foggy out there, but nothing out of the ordinary besides it was a little cloudy, I guess.”
Clarke Schmidt, Tuesday’s starting pitcher, said that he had no problems breathing on the mound. He even joked that more smoke would have helped him, as he served up a 320-foot home run to Chicago’s Seby Zavala that barely cleared the short right field porch at Yankee Stadium.
“Obviously, the air wasn’t thick enough,” Schmidt said. “The homer down the line might not have got out.”
Schmidt told the News on Wednesday that he wasn’t experiencing any adverse effects from the night before.
But at least one Yankee thought it wasn’t safe to play Wednesday, as Willie Calhoun couldn’t see the Hudson River while crossing the George Washington Bridge on his way to work. His friend, Rangers infielder Marcus Semien, called to say, “It looks like you guys are living in a different world right now.”
Calhoun also told the News that he was dealing with a bad headache Wednesday afternoon. He couldn’t be certain it came from the smoke, but he knew it wasn’t a matter of dehydration, as he had been “crushing water.”
“I don’t want to say it’s the air,” Calhoun said, “but then again, I don’t get headaches often.”
Boone said the Yankees will monitor their players for any issues, such as, but not limited to, headaches and eye irritations.
“We’re around trainers and doctors and stuff,” the manager said, “so if anyone’s feeling anything like that, we’re pretty resourced for that.”