Major League Baseball is considering contingency plans for this weekend’s crucial series between the Mets and Braves in Atlanta as Hurricane Ian bears down on Florida’s Gulf Coast.
The rapidly intensifying hurricane is slated to make landfall in Florida Wednesday morning, while parts of Georgia are expected to see flooding rain and some coastal surges through Saturday. Georgia Governor Brian Kemp has declared a state of emergency and ordered 500 National Guard troops on standby to respond as needed.
With a key three-game series starting Friday at Truist Park, the National League East rivals and MLB have discussed several options, including a split doubleheader on Sunday, according to multiple reports.
The teams have Thursday off, but MLB is not considering starting the series a day earlier, according to MLB.com. According to MLB.com, moving games to a neutral site was not a serious consideration as of Wednesday morning.
Mets manager Buck Showalter joked that he was on a “double-secret trial” but told reporters, “We know what’s going on,” and noted that general manager Billy Eppler was leading the Mets’ involvement. speaks
“I’m not into it,” Showalter said. “[Eppler] Great at bringing me up to speed and what I need to know and what I don’t need to know. I’m very comfortable that he has it all wired up. It’s enough to make my head spin.”
The hurricane strengthened to 155 mph Wednesday morning along Florida’s southwest coast, just shy of the more dangerous Category 5 status. Damaging winds and rain battered the heavily populated Gulf Coast, with the Naples to Sarasota area at “high risk” of a catastrophic storm surge.
“It’s going to be a bad, bad day, two days,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said. “It’s going to be a tough stretch.”
The Mets and Braves enter Wednesday tied atop the NL East with identical 97-58 records. The division winner will exit the NL Division Series, while the runner-up will begin a best-of-three wild-card series on Oct. 7, further complicating MLB’s efforts to reschedule games postponed by the Hurricanes.
A decision could come as late as Wednesday or Friday morning, as MLB and teams plan to wait as long as possible to track the Hurricanes’ path. The Mets play a home game against the Marlins on Wednesday, while the Braves finish their series in Washington against the Nationals before the teams have a bye.
The Mets, who led the NL East by 10.5 games on June 1, fell into a tie atop the division with a 6-4 loss to the Marlins on Tuesday. The surging Braves defeated the Nationals 8-2 on Tuesday in what was expected to be a weather-beaten final week to decide the division champion.
“It’s fun — it’s really fun, being in a race like this,” the Mets star first baseman Pete Alonso said. “Tomorrow is another opportunity for us to be great and we want to continue playing the best baseball we’ve been playing all year.”
Following their scheduled Sunday Night Baseball game (ESPN, 7 ET), the clubs will begin their regular-season schedule on Oct. 5, leaving Oct. 6 as another possible date to make up for the postponed games. Showalter joked that the Mets will be ready to play a tripleheader as early as this Thursday.
“If they ask us to play, we play,” he told reporters. “That’s what we do.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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