Yankees-White Sox game postponed due to Canadian wildfire smoke causing air quality issues in New York

Tribune Content Agency

NEW YORK — 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.

Major League Baseball had been monitoring the hazy situation in New York City and above Yankee Stadium, a major league source told the Daily News earlier in the day.

The league consulted medical and weather experts on Tuesday night, when smoke from Canadian wildfires drifted south into the United States. New York City was among the impacted areas, and the Yankees and White Sox played beneath the smog at Yankee Stadium as fans watched — despite the air quality index (AQI) reaching levels deemed “unhealthy” and “very unhealthy” by the Environmental Protection Agency.

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 would be MLB’s decision, while the source added that the league office would consult 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.”

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, who took outdoor batting practice before the game, said they 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 manager Aaron 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.”