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MLB Comes Around To The Idea That Games Shouldn’t Be Played In Poisonous Death Clouds

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 14: Wildfire smoke fills the air during the second game of a doubleheader between the Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics at T-Mobile Park on September 14, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. The Oakland Athletics beat the Seattle Mariners 9-0. (Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images)
Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images

Monday’s air quality index in Seattle read 281, good enough to play two baseball games between the Mariners and the Oakland Athletics but terrible for humans, which leads to assumptions about whether baseball players are considered humans by the people who employ them.

Tuesday’s air quality was 241, which was 14 percent less suck but apparently 100 percent more dangerous because the Mariners and the San Francisco Giants not only didn’t play the game, but moved the series down to San Francisco, where the air quality had dipped from the very high 100s to the very high 20s.

Okay, analytics folks. Make that work. I know conspiracy freaks … ummm, errr, uhhh, A’s fans can.

They are, of course, wrong. MLB isn’t so clever that it can try to screw a team on purpose, because that would require actual foresight. This, like most sports crises, had a very short shelf life, and the reason why is because Major League Baseball isn’t as evil as it is stupid, feckless, lazy and devoid of anticipatory skills. The people who run it could not gather together to open a bottle of beer that the bartender already opened.

The air on the West Coast has been Pittsburgh-smelting quality bad for at least a week. There were games in San Diego last weekend, but two of them got banged because of an alleged false positive test among the Giants, and the Sunday air was tolerable, so that doesn’t count. There were games in Los Angeles Saturday and Sunday, when the air was merely unhealthy, but the Dodgers and Astros played anyway.

But the cloud of barbecue-grill-level death was heading north. Towns along the I-5 corridor in Oregon were easily into the 500s, which is science for “Stop breathing, you idiots,” and in Washington the range of don’t-suck-because-it’ll-kill-you was high and wide. Seattle was in the path (Vancouver, Wash., just north of Portland, was in the 300s and moving toward the Safeco Field batrack as this screed was being aspirated), everyone with the capability of downloading an app knew it, and yet…

…and yet nobody thought breathing was that necessary to athletics. Or the Mariners and Athletics.

Idiots, all. And in saying that, we have surely earned the wrath of idiots and their lawyers.

The city of Seattle should have said, “What the hell are you morons doing?” The Mariners should have heeded the warnings of their own city government and postponed the games, perhaps never to be re-enacted. The A’s should have met with the Mariners and said, “How about we not do this?” The players of the two teams should have met, called Tony Clark at the MLBPA and said, “We’re not playing in a crematorium and we expect you to back our play.” And whether they got that backing or not, they should have walked.

But mostly, MLB, as in inflatable-commissioner-with-a-leaky-neck-valve Rob Manfred, should have announced, “We dumped more than 50 games because of COVID and now we’ll just have to dump a few to Padre-brown air, because though you wouldn’t know it from our general behavior this year, we need our employees to deliver the thing we all get rich from, ya dig?”

Instead, they played the games because it didn’t occur to anyone in a position to say no to say, well, no. Childesque A’s starter Jesus Luzardo shamed everyone by delivering the quote of the year: “I’m a healthy 22-year-old, I shouldn’t be gasping for air, or missing oxygen when I’m getting to the line, I’ll leave it at that.”

The next day, the league office leapt into modified inaction and suddenly the solution that could have been applied by most attentive dogs presented itself to MLB. No game in Seattle Tuesday, games out of Smoky Alley Wednesday and Thursday.

So why are we bringing this up now, you ask in a clearly hectoring tone that frankly would get you a series of kicks in the Y-fronts in most bars in America? Because it serves as yet one more reminder that we have clearly prioritized our own selfish entertainment ahead of the well-being of even our entertainers. And don’t even start with the invertebrate greedwhores who run the Big 10 Conference’s 14 schools; may their circle of hell see them stuck out them in the nosebleed seats surrounded by virologists smearing them with chicken wings basted with anthrax-coated wasps for all eternity.

We want games, and we’ll kill whoever it takes to get them, because … okay, maybe this is an overplay. But we clearly prioritize the concept of games, even Mariners-Athletics games, over people, and it is now almost reflexive. The answer to who can stop an event held in dangerous conditions is, “I don’t know, because nobody’s ever thought of it.”