Yankees Hosted White Sox in Smoke-Engulfed Game Following Canadian Wildfires
The game between the New York Yankees and the Chicago White Sox on August 13, 2018, made headlines for an extraordinary reason. The players had to battle through poor air quality due to smoke from wildfires that were raging in western Canada. Even though wildfires are common in Canada, the scale of these fires was unprecedented. More than 560,000 hectares of forest had already burnt by August 9, including areas in British Columbia, Ontario, and Alberta.
The Smoke Has Made Its Way to the East Coast
Although the fires were most severe in Western Canada, the smoke from the fires has been moving eastward and has been observed in places like Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois. In Wisconsin, the Department of Natural Resources issued an air quality advisory, warning people to avoid outdoor activities due to the poor air quality. In Chicago, schools were canceled on August 14 because of the dangerous air quality. The smoke arrived on the east coast around August 12 and was noticeable in places as far as New York City.
The Authorities’ Response
Despite the bad air quality, the game in New York went ahead. But not without some concerns. Both teams’ managers were in discussions with the umpires and Major League Baseball officials, weighing up whether to postpone the game or move it to another ballpark. However, the decision was made to play the game as scheduled, but there were special measures put in place. The stadium’s air-filtration system was ramped up, and fans were allowed to use masks to help them filter the air.
The Players’ Experiences Playing in Smoke Filled Air
The game kicked off, and players had to adapt to the unique situation. The air had a smokey haze, and it was almost like the stadium was enveloped in a fog. Both teams had to make adjustments to their routine as a result. For example, Yankees starting pitcher Luis Severino had to warm-up in the batting cages, instead of on the field, due to the poor visibility. The players had to focus harder, as tracking fly-balls became more challenging. It wasn’t surprising that both teams struggled with their offense. No home runs were hit in the game, and players reported feeling more lethargic than usual due to the poor air quality.
The Smoke Had Widespread Impacts
The smoke from the wildfires had widespread effects, not just on baseball games but on people’s lives in general. Many Canadians living near the wildfires were evacuated from their homes, and others had to live in smoky conditions for weeks. Smoke was causing breathing troubles for many, so the Canadian government issued an advisory, warning people to limit their outdoor activities. In cities, the smoke led to a hazy sky and a thick air odor. People wore face masks as the smoke aggravated respiratory conditions. The underlying fear was that the smoke could cause long-lasting health effects, particularly for younger individuals and the elderly.
The Impact of Climate Change on Wildfires
It’s hard to ignore the fact that the wildfires that caused the smoke in the Yankees vs. White Sox game were a direct result of climate change. Over recent years, the frequency and extent of wildfires have increased dramatically due to a combination of rising temperatures and drier conditions. Human actions (like deforestation) have also played a role. Climate scientists predict that unless we take steps to reduce carbon emissions and limit global heating, the extent of wildfires will continue to rise.
The game between the Yankees and White Sox was a rare instance where the impact of climate change was on full display in sports. It was clear that the play was affected by the smoke in the air. But far beyond the world of sports, the fires in Canada and the spread of the smoke have underscored the need for humanity to take climate change seriously. Without an immediate response, we are all at risk of enduring similar apocalyptic conditions in the future.