Florida State League Cancels Its Championship Series

Wildfire Threatens Northwest League Division Series

Shoppers gather supplies at a Home Depot store as residents in the area prepare ahead of Hurricane Irma in Tampa, Fla. The National Hurricane Center has reported that Irma has strengthened to a Category 5 storm as it crosses into the Caribbean and is expected to move on toward Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)

This year, there are ties in baseball. At least in the Florida State League, that is.

With Hurricane Irma strengthening and bearing down on Florida, the league decided on Tuesday to cancel its championship series and instead declare co-champions. The teams that win their respective division series will each be awarded a share of the title. Palm Beach and Fort Myers are battling for the South division crown, while Tampa and Dunedin are vying for the championship in the North Division.

“I’m just really afraid of what’s happening here,” Florida State League president Ken Carson said. “I didn’t meet any resistance at all, so that was a good thing.”

Co-champions has happened twice in the FSL. The league cancelled the championship series in 2004 under similar circumstances when a hurricane—which never made landfall—approached and declared Tampa and Daytona co-champions. In 2001, Brevard County and Tampa were awarded shares to the championship in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. If Tampa knocks off Dunedin, the Yankees affiliate will have won two outright championships and three co-championships since 2001.

Carson said he spoke Tuesday morning with farm directors of each club and came to his decision.

“I was thinking about it yesterday and over the weekend,” he said. “This morning I said, ‘I just can’t let this happen,’ because I just wouldn’t be able to live with myself if something happened. So I called all the farm directors, and they were all for it. They were glad.”

Meanwhile, another weather phenomenon is threatening to postpone Game 1 of the Northwest League Division Series between Eugene and Hillsboro. A series of wildfires raging across the state of Oregon and Pacific Northwest has left the air in the area dangerously polluted. If the Air Quality Index, which measures the level of pollutants in the air, is at 201 or higher, the game will be either delayed or postponed. At the time of this post, the AQI in Eugene was at 434, which is considered extremely hazardous. Under such conditions, people are encouraged to avoid all outdoor activity.

If the game is postponed, it will be relocated to Hillsboro as part of doubleheader. The second and third games of the best-of-three series were scheduled to be played at Hillsboro, which won the first half of season.

UPDATE: The Emeralds have indeed postponed Game One of their division series with the Hops. Instead of the originally planned doubleheader at Hillsboro, however, the teams will play on Wednesday at PK Park.

“After long discussions with league officials, the Hillsboro Hops and multiple health and weather agencies, we have determined that we simply cannot play a game in these conditions,” Emeralds general manager Allan Benavides said in a release. “Safety is of utmost concern to us, our fans, our players and our community. As a result, we have to cancel tonight’s game at PK Park. ”

Instead of a doubleheader, Games Two and Three of the series will be played on Thursday and Friday in Hillsboro.

Additionally, the Florida State League has adjusted its schedule for the North Division’s playoff series between Dunedin and Tampa. The teams will play Game One on Tuesday as scheduled at Dunedin, but Games Two and Three will be played as a doubleheader with two nine-inning games at Tampa on Wednesday.

The same is true for the South’s division series between Palm Beach and Fort Myers. Game One will be played on Tuesday at Fort Myers, and Games Two and Three will be played at Palm Beach on Wednesday as a doubleheader.

UPDATE: The Northwest League’s other division series, between Spokane and Vancouver, has also altered its schedule. Game One was slated for Tuesday night in Spokane, but will be played in Vancouver on Wednesday instead. Spokane will still be the home game despite playing on the road. Games Two and Three will still be played in Vancouver as scheduled, and Spokane will not get a home game during the series.

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