Wildfires Created an Eerie Setting for A’s and Giants Games

In Thursday’s Hot Clicks: a spooky scene for Bay Area baseball games, the Raptors and Celtics play a double-OT thriller and more.
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Real end-of-the-world stuff

The Giants picked a hell of a day to sign free-agent first baseman Justin Smoak.

Smoke choked the skies across much of the West Coast on Wednesday as dozens of wildfires burned in three states. Millions of acres of land have burned. Entire towns in Oregon have been destroyed. At least seven people have died. 

The impact of the fires is being felt far from the actual flames as drifting smoke clogs the skies and reduces air quality. Just looking up is a reminder of the destruction occurring nearby. 

But that much smoke doesn’t turn the sky gray or black—because of ~science~ it gives the sky a deep orange-red color. As smoke drifted hundreds of miles from where the fires burned into large urban areas, people gawked at the Martian appearance of the sky. Even in the middle of the afternoon, the sky looked like the most striking sunset imaginable. 

But if a pandemic isn’t going to stop sports teams from playing, neither is a firestorm. In Santa Clara, at the southern edge of the Bay Area, 49ers practice went ahead under a hazy sky. 

Up in Oakland, though, the smoke was having a much bigger effect on conditions. Here’s what the A’s home ballpark looked like around 11 a.m.

The air quality was decent enough that A’s-Astros game could be played, though. 

“The lights were on when I first got here. It’s like we’re in a dome. It has been dark out there all day. I don’t have any sunglasses to go out there with today,” A’s manager Bob Melvin told reporters

“I have a white hat on today. See what color it is when I come in afterward. Little experiment on my behalf today.”

Smoke filled sky at Oakland Coliseum
Smoke filled sky at Oakland Coliseum

While the sky in Oakland was rust-colored, across the Bay in San Francisco it looked a lot more like Mad Max. Astros manager Dusty Baker, who used to manage the Giants and still owns homes in Northern California, said the scene reminded him of a Jimi Hendrix song.

“We don’t know if it’s going to have impact or not,” Baker told reporters. “I’ve seen it before and I’ve talked to everybody at home and they said they’ve never seen it this bad this long. There are fires all over the West Coast here, and I was actually playing Jimi Hendrix today, ‘The Sky is Crying.’ The sky was crying today. I thought I was going to go outside and see Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now. It’s just a strange and eerie feeling.”

Smoke filled sky at Giants' Oracle Park
Smoke filled sky at Giants' Oracle Park
Smoke filled sky at Giants' Oracle Park

The games started not long before the sun went down, so the skies didn’t stay orange for very long, but the TV broadcast in San Francisco still looked a little hazy from some angles. 

Playing a baseball game with the stands empty because of a raging pandemic under skies that look like they’re literally burning sounds like some real science-fiction stuff. But it’s just the world we live in now. 

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Email dan.gartland@si.com with any feedback or follow me on Twitter for approximately one half-decent baseball joke per week. Bookmark this page to see previous editions of Hot Clicks and find the newest edition every day. By popular request I’ve made a Spotify playlist of the music featured here. Visit our Extra Mustard page throughout each day for more offbeat sports stories.