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Apocalypse Now

This is what the future of baseball looks like

September 02, 2021

It’s been a tough week to be Planet Earth. In California, just south of Lake Tahoe, the Caldor Fire continues to chew up acreage—210,259 as of Thursday morning—as it crosses into Nevada. Back east, the remnants of Hurricane Ida blew threw Eatsern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York on Wednesday night, killing nine people as rivers swelled and storm drains failed, water submerging subway stations, highways, and apartment buildings as megapolis infrastructure ground to a halt. Backburnered in the global battle against COVID-19, earth’s climate crisis has put itself front and center once more, offering another wake up call that will go answered and another reckoning that won’t be reckoned with.

This is the sort of thing you can write on a sports website when things get bad enough, because when things get bad enough, there won't be any sports left. That may sound like hyperbole, but it’s not. It may sound like a tomorrow problem, but it’s literally today. The Caldor Fire is currently bearing down on Stateline, Nevada, home to Edgewood Tahoe, host of the American Century Championship each summer, and Heavenly Ski Resort, Nevada’s largest ski area, which has fired up the snowmaking guns in September in an attempt to soak the earth before the blaze arrives.

Hurricane Ida, which roared through Louisiana earlier this week, forced both the University of Tulane and New Orleans Saints to relocate their much-anticipated season openers hundreds of miles in either direction. In New York, that same storm caused matches at Arthur Ashe Stadium, the showcase venue of the 2021 U.S. Open, to be delayed as water poured through the retractable roof, unable to withstand a deluge that dumped a record-setting 3.15 inches of rain on Central Park between 8:45 p.m. and 9:45 p.m. on Wednesday night. Fleeing tennis fans, meanwhile, were stranded on the 7-train platform until nearly 2 a.m. while the New York Subway system experienced a complete shutdown.

Then there’s the Somerset Patriots, the Bridgewater, New Jersey-based Double-A affiliate of the New York Yankees, who woke up to find their home ballpark looking like this on Thursday morning:

There’s been a lot of conversation recently about what the future of baseball will look like. Some of it has been trivial—will there be a universal DH?—and some of it meaningful—is the lack of interest from America’s young black athletes here to stay or just a blip? This, however, is what the future of baseball looks like. Rained out. Underwater. Fans headed for the exits if they bothered to chance the weather at all.

Ultimately, the impact climate change (and the increasingly severe weather patterns that accompany it) has on sports is a minnow of a fish to fry. Lives are being lost. Livelihoods drowned. Homes razed. Who cares if the Somerset Patriots have to postpone Seinfeld Night? That said, it’s emblematic of the larger crisis facing not only sports, but the increasingly inhabitable space rock that plays host to them. Sports are only an escape when there’s an escape route left, and that road is about to be washed away. No one can say when or where, but one thing is certain:

You can't sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” through a snorkle.