In a year of endless chaos, 2020 has been like living in a fog. To wit, the Mariners and Athletics played in a literal fog Monday, staging a doubleheader in dangerous conditions amid continuing wildfires that have ravaged the west coast. According to AirNow, an Air Quality Index (AQI) of 151 or higher is considered unhealthy. Monday’s AQI in Seattle reached well over 200. This made for a surreal scene with photographers snapping shots of a noticeably smoky T-Mobile Park.
The A’s and Mariners managed to complete Monday’s doubleheader—Seattle claimed Game 1 with Oakland bouncing back to win the nightcap—though it’s debatable whether they should have. A similar situation arose over the weekend with the 49ers hosting their opener at Levi’s Stadium despite less-than-ideal playing conditions. Tevin Coleman, who suffers from sickle cell anemia, missed practice time leading up to Sunday’s game due to the poor air quality in Santa Clara (he wound up playing, but only saw five touches in the loss to Arizona). Athletics left-hander Jesus Luzardo, who spanned 4 2/3 innings in Game 1, voiced his frustration after Monday’s defeat, addressing the difficult conditions at T-Mobile Park in no uncertain terms.
“When I came out, it was at 284,” said Luzardo, referring to the borderline hazardous AQI in Seattle. “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 rookie raises a fair point with widespread fires wreaking havoc across the west coast. As of Monday (per the National Interagency Fire Center), a reported 87 fires have damaged 4.6 million acres in 10 states with California, Colorado, Oregon and Washington all under evacuation orders. The Mariners, who enter Tuesday’s action only 1.5 games out of Wild Card position in the American League, still have eight games remaining on their current homestand, which could pose significant challenges if the poor air quality in Seattle persists.