Major League Baseball is considering contingency plans for a crucial weekend series in Atlanta between the Mets and Braves as Hurricane Ian hits the Florida Gulf Coast.
The rapidly escalating hurricane was scheduled to make landfall on Wednesday morning in Florida, while parts of Georgia were expected to see flood rain and some coastal uplift through Saturday. Georgia Governor Brian Kemp proactively declared a state of emergency, ordering 500 National Guard soldiers on standby to respond as needed.
With a pivotal three-game series set to begin Friday at Truist Park, National League East and MLB rivals have discussed several options, according to multiple reports, including a double-header split on Sunday.
Teams have a mutual day off on Thursdays, but MLB is not considering starting the series one day earlier, according to MLB.com. Moving the Games to a neutral site wasn’t a serious consideration as of Wednesday morning, according to MLB.com.
Mets manager Buck Showalter joked that he was under “covert double scrutiny” when asked to reveal details about the talks but told reporters “we know what’s going on” and noted that general manager Billy Epler was spearheading the Mets’ involvement in the talks.
“I don’t get involved in that,” Showalter said. “[Eppler] He’s great at keeping me updated on what I need to know and what I don’t need to know. I’m totally relieved that he got all of this. I have enough turning my head.”
The hurricane gained strength off the southwest coast of Florida Wednesday morning with winds of 155 mph, no less dangerous than a Category 5 case. Destructive winds and rain battered the densely populated Gulf Coast, and the Naples to Sarasota region was at “highest risk” for a devastating storm chariot.
“This is going to be a bad day and a bad day, two days,” Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said early Wednesday. “This is going to be a difficult stretch.”
The Mets and the Braves enter Wednesday tied for the top of the NL East with identical scoring 97-58. The division winner will bid farewell to the NL Division Series while the runner-up will kick off the best of three Wild Card series on October 7, complicating MLB’s attempts to reschedule any matches postponed due to the hurricane.
The decision could come as early as Wednesday or late Friday morning, as the MLB and teams plan to wait as long as possible to monitor the hurricane’s path. The Mets play a home game Wednesday against the Marlins as the Braves complete their series in Washington against the Nationals ahead of the two teams’ mutual day off.
The Mets, who led the NL East by 10.5 games on June 1, fell into a showdown at the top of the division with Tuesday’s 6-4 loss to the Marlins. The Rookie Braves had beaten the Nationals 8-2 earlier on Tuesday, paving the way for what is now expected to be a weather-scarred final week to determine the Serie A champions.
“That’s fun – that’s really fun, being in a race like this,” Mets star first baseman Alonso’s house He said. “Tomorrow is another chance for us to be great and we just want to keep playing the great baseball we’ve been playing all year.”
After the scheduled Sunday Night Baseball game (ESPN, 7 ET), clubs will wrap up their regular season schedules with a three-game series ending October 5, leaving October 6 as another possible date to make up for postponed matches. Showalter joked that the Mets will be ready to play a three-header as early as Thursday.
“When they ask us to play, we play,” he told reporters. “This is what we do.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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