Fires, Fear and Baseball without Fans 

click to enlarge PLAY BALL: The Oakland A's are back in the playoffs in a series against the Chicago White Sox, but fans will be forced to watch from afar during the pandemic.

PHOTO FROM 2018 BY MICHAEL ESTIGOY, VIA FLICKR

PLAY BALL: The Oakland A's are back in the playoffs in a series against the Chicago White Sox, but fans will be forced to watch from afar during the pandemic.

Strong winds and dry vegetation fueled wildfires in Napa Valley that quickly spread to tens of thousands of acres and forced nearly 70,000 to evacuate their homes. The destruction of North Bay wineries has been substantial and many structures still remain under threat. The impact on air quality, however, won't be like early September, when the sky turned an apocalyptic orange before giving way to a pall of white that lasted a week.

California public health officials warned last week that a surge in coronavirus hospitalizations could spike in October. Large gatherings and a loosening of health orders could fuel the increase. What officials did not say—and have not said nearly enough—is that the federal government's failure to develop a national testing plan and issue adequate safety guidelines on masks is the main reason more than 200,000 people have died on the road to November's elections.

BART temporarily shut down in San Leandro over a suspected looting plot. Police believed a plan to loot Bayfair Center was afoot Saturday after seeing word of a "meet-up" posted on social media. Law enforcement was apparently on edge after dozens of cars were stolen from a Dodge dealership in an unprecedented car heist on June 1 that took advantage of the protests over the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. On the bright side, the heavy-handed response by police affected hardly anyone as BART ridership has dipped more than 90 percent during the pandemic.

The A's are back in the playoffs for a best-of-three series against the Chicago White Sox. All games will be played at the Coliseum, which, as fans remain barred during the pandemic, offers the smallest sliver of a home-field advantage: The Sox have to use the visitors' porta-potty locker room. Oakland has already lost the Warriors to San Francisco and then the Raiders to Las Vegas, so the A's winning a World Series without long-suffering fans in attendance to collectively celebrate—before the team likely leaves for a new home—would be peak 2020. But that's a nightmare for a later date.

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