Giants series relocated

The Mariners' two-game series against the San Francisco Giants that was slated to begin tonight has been postponed one day and relocated to San Francisco due to abysmal air quality in Seattle. This was done after complaints were lodged by players, principally from the Giants, but also from the Seattle side.

Mariners CEO Kevin Mather issued this disingenuous statement:

Unfortunately, the air quality in Seattle has gotten worse overnight here at T-Mobile Park and it is not clearing at all today. Forecasters expect it to clear late Thursday and into Friday morning. As always, the health and safety of the players and our staff is our first priority.

To assure the games could be played, the best solution was to re-locate to the Bay Area. We appreciate the Giants' willingness to work with us on this challenge, and we look forward to returning to T-Mobile Park on Friday to host the Padres.

I say that it's disingenuous because the air quality did not get worse overnight—it is actually slightly less bad than it was yesterday, when the Mariners went ahead with their makeup doubleheader against the Oakland A's and played despite atrocious levels of smoke and particulates that were thicker than the smoky hellscape that is now visible outside my window here in north Seattle. Therefore, the health and safety of players and staff was not the club's first priority yesterday, making the "as always" part of Mather's statement ludicrous on its face.

Players complained yesterday, too, but as (legitimately) always, Major League Baseball under commissioner Rob Manfred handles things like this in an entirely reactive rather than proactive manner and had to have an entirely predictable problematic episode happen before taking any action whatsoever.

It was obvious to anyone with half a functioning brain that there should not have been a baseball game played at TMP yesterday, let alone a pair of them. Out-of-area reader Paul Taylor emailed in yesterday evening with this comment: "Isn't air a bit unhealthy to be playing baseball, no less a doubleheader?" Why, yes, Paul, it is. You have now shown yourself to be more qualified to run Major League Baseball than its current commissioner is.

Said Mariner outfielder Kyle Lewis of yesterday's environment, "It definitely wasn’t a normal situation, definitely a little weird. It’s kind of hard for me to speak on it because I don’t really understand the nature of the smoke in the air and whatnot and how that works.” Good on Lewis for acknowledging his lack of expertise on the subject; after all, half of being smart is knowing what you're dumb at. Seattle manager Scott Servais, on the other hand, was remarkably fine with it all. "Visibility and playability" were OK, he said, not offering an opinion on health risks. He did remark that MLB was comfortable with the games being played. "Nobody had any problems," Servais said.

 Oakland manager Bob Melvin was asked if MLB had considered postponing the doubleheader. “No one said a word,” Melvin replied. “I heard 200 [Air Quality Index] was the cutoff level to start and my understanding is it was way over that, both games.” The starting pitcher for Oakland in yesterday's first game, Jesús Luzardo, stated the obvious about yesterday's conditions: "I’m a healthy 22-year-old. I shouldn’t be gasping for air or missing oxygen." A's reliever Jake Diekman tweeted air quality index ratings during yesterday's games, tagging MLB's account: "Lowest Air Quality [Index] we had was leaving after the game at 221." An AQI over 100 is "unhealthy for sensitive groups," over 150 is considered unhealthy generally, 200-300 is "very unhealthy," and over 300 is "hazardous." The Mariners reported that the AQI topped out at 230 during the two games, but the measuring station in Seattle's International District (near the ballpark) disagrees, reporting that it hit 263 around 5:00pm.

Despite Melvin's comment, MLB does not have a standard for these things and the commissioner's office refers teams to local officials for guidance if it bothers to say anything at all.

Among the players to appear in yesterday's doubleheader was reliever Yoshi Hirano, who earned the save in Game 1. Hirano had only recently recovered from a COVID-19 infection that kept him from starting the season with the team, and of course we have no idea yet what sort of long-term difficulties, respiratory and otherwise, one can have as a result of contracting the virus. For others, the inevitable lung irritation from inhaling all that smoke also increases one's susceptibility to the coronavirus. Said the Center for Disease Control, “Exposure to air pollutants in wildfire smoke can irritate the lungs, cause inflammation, alter immune function, and increase susceptibility to respiratory infections, including COVID-19.”

At what would have been gametime tonight, AQI at the International District reporting station was 224, down from 248 earlier in the day. Forecasts are for the AQI to remain well above 200 through at least tomorrow evening, with spikes above 300 continuing until Thursday morning and not falling below 100 until Friday. The Bay Area has fared much better of late, with smoke clearing steadily since early Monday; current AQI reports near San Francisco's Oracle Park are reading just 17 at present.

When the M's and giants do get around to playing tomorrow and Thursday, the Mariners will be the official home team and bat last. Wednesday's game remains an evening affair with first pitch scheduled for 6:45pm, while Thursday's will be a day game (1:10pm), allowing the M's to fly home Thursday night.