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Maybe Don’t Play A Doubleheader In A Poisonous Cloud Of Smoke

Nobody should have to wear an N-95 during a baseball game!
Photo: Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images

The Oakland A’s are between games of a doubleheader in Seattle right now, where the air is so thick with wildfire smoke that you could write your name in it. When the game started two hours ago, the air quality was 234, which is well into the “very unhealthy” range. More recent readings for the Seattle area on AirNow have hovered between 283 (almost “hazardous”) and 239, while Purple Air sensors paint a slightly improved yet still rather toxic picture. The NFL’s threshold for canceling a game is 200, but the MLB does not have a number beyond which they’ll call a game.

Point is, playing a ballgame in this is super dangerous and obviously should not be happening.

(A quick tangent: I was curious about what the conversion between AQI units and units of cigarettes was, and lo and behold, a pair of researchers from Berkeley Earth ran the numbers. One cigarette per day is equal to 22 micrograms of PM 2.5 particulate matter per cubic meter. So, an AQI of 283 is the equivalent of 233 μg/m3, or 10.5 cigarettes per day, or almost three over the course of a doubleheader, though that’s before you account for the compounding effects of running.)

We’ll update this post if they shut things down, though things don’t seem promising, since lineups have been announced for the second game. Players (and their families) seem suitably pissed.

Oh, and the reason they’re playing a doubleheader? The A’s had to miss four games earlier this month after a positive COVID-19 test. So, Ramon Laureano’s mask in that photo is an N-95, not a COVID mask. Being worse than the NFL on anything is bad for a sports league, and to be measurably worse (83 units of AQI worse!) on player safety is especially embarrassing for MLB. There’s no clearer way to tell your players you don’t care about their health than to force them outside into poison air to make up for the games they missed because you mismanaged a pandemic.