Did MLB put Cubs, Phillies players, fans in danger unnecessarily?

Cubs, Phillies (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Cubs, Phillies (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

On Tuesday night, the Phillies and Cubs game went on as originally scheduled despite incredibly poor air quality.

Canadian wildfires that have persisted throughout the spring and summer once again poured smoke down into the continental United States on Tuesday, polluting Chicago’s air quality and making it the worst in the world for the day.

Weeks ago, a Yankees home game was postponed due to poor air quality in New York City due to wildfires, but on Tuesday, a Chicago Cubs home game against the Philadelphia Phillies went on as planned.

The air quality index was measured at 209 on Tuesday in Chicago, which is worse than the state of New York’s air the day of the Yankees postponement. 

As was noted by several journalists on Tuesday, postponements of this kind can not be decided on the team level, they are decided by the league office and commissioner Rob Manfred. So the decision and relevant consequences rest solely on the league.

Did MLB puts Cubs and Phillies in danger unecessarily?

The air quality was entirely unsafe on Tuesday, and a reasonably cautious approach to outdoor activities was recommended by Chicago officials. Residents, even healthy ones, were encouraged to stay indoors unless absolutely necessary.

So, it begs the question… Why have the game, a non-essential recreational and entertainment event, especially when the league canceled a game with higher quality air just weeks ago?

Though the commercial needs of keeping the game on as scheduled — not only for the ball clubs but also for hourly stadium workers — may justify moving a recreational activity to the “necessary” category, the league had options.

The remaining two games in this series are both night games, and Tuesday’s game could have easily been played as a doubleheader. Making up games in this fashion is a regular occurrence in the league for things like rainouts.

Over 37,000 fans attended the game Tuesday night, in addition to the personnel from both teams and all the stadium workers present to make sure things ran smoothly.

While it’s impossible to say exactly how much danger those in attendance were put in, when considering the alternative options the league appeared to have, it’s hard to understand why the show went on on Tuesday night against the health recommendations from local officials.

Philadelphia beat Chicago 5-1, and the two teams will play again Wednesday night.

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