Major League Baseball is considering contingency plans for this weekend’s pivotal series in Atlanta between the Mets and Braves as Hurricane Ian hits Florida’s Gulf Coast.
The rapidly intensifying hurricane was expected to make landfall in Florida on Wednesday morning, while parts of Georgia are expected to experience flooding and some coastal rise through Saturday. Georgian Governor Brian Kemp has declared a pre-emptive state of emergency and ordered 500 National Guard troops to respond if necessary.
With the pivotal three-game series slated to begin Friday at Truist Park, the National League East and MLB rivals have discussed several options, according to multiple reports, including a split doubleheader on Sunday.
The teams will have a joint day off on Thursday, but MLB is not considering starting the series a day early, according to MLB.com. Moving the games to a neutral site was also not a serious consideration as of Wednesday morning, according to MLB.com.
Mets manager Buck Showalter joked that he is on “double secret probation” when asked to disclose details about the talks, but told reporters that “we know what’s going on,” noting that general manager Billy Eppler was in charge of the Mets’ involvement in the talk.
“I’m not in it,” Showalter said. “[Eppler] is great at keeping me updated on what I need to know and what I don’t need to know. I feel completely comfortable that he has all this wired up. I have enough on my mind.”
The hurricane gained strength off Florida’s southwest coast Wednesday morning with top winds of 255 mph, just ahead of its most dangerous Category 5 status. Harmful winds and rain ravaged the heavily populated Gulf Coast, with the Naples to Sarasota region at the “highest risk” of devastating storm surge.
“This is going to be a bad, bad day, two days,” Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said Wednesday. “This is going to be a tough journey.”
The Mets and the Braves enter the NL East on Wednesday with identical 97-58 records. The division winner will receive a bye into the NL Division Series, while the runner-up will begin a best-of-three Wild Card Series on October 7, further complicating MLB’s efforts to reschedule games postponed by the hurricane.
A decision could come as early as Wednesday or as late as Friday morning, as MLB and the teams plan to wait as long as possible to track the hurricane’s trajectory. The Mets will play a home game against the Marlins on Wednesday, as the Braves complete their series in Washington against the Nationals for the teams’ joint day off.
The Mets, who led the NL East with 10.5 games on June 1, tied the score with Tuesday’s 6-4 loss to the Marlins. The rising Braves had beaten the Nationals 8-2 earlier Tuesday, paving the way for what is now expected to be a weather-affected final week to decide the division champion.
“This is fun — this is really fun to be in a race like this,” said Mets star first baseman Pete Alonso. “Tomorrow is another chance for us to be great and we just want to keep playing the great baseball that we play all year.”
Following their scheduled Sunday Night Baseball game (ESPN, 7 ET), the clubs will wrap up their regular season schedule with three-game runs ending October 5, leaving October 6 as another possible date to make up for postponed games. . Showalter joked that the Mets would be ready to play a triple header as early as this Thursday.
“If they tell us to play, we play,” he told reporters. “That is what we do.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.