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Wednesday, September 17, 2003
As Isabel threatens, schedules are adjusted

ESPN.com news services

The threat of Hurricane Isabel has already affected sporting events in the mid-Atlantic region.

The Baltimore Orioles were the first baseball team to react, shifting the starting time of their Thursday game against the New York Yankees from 7:05 p.m. to 12:35 p.m.

The move was made in anticipation of the impending hurricane, after the Orioles consulted with Commissioner Bud Selig and Yankees officials.

The Philadelphia Phillies followed suit shortly thereafter Wednesday, switching the start time for Thursday's game against the Florida Marlins from 7:05 p.m. to 1:05 p.m.

"We are concerned that the possibility of significant rainfall and high winds Thursday evening might pose a danger for fans attending or going home after an evening game," said Phillies vice president Mike Stiles. "We recognize a last minute change in starting time creates a hardship for many fans planning to attend Thursday night, but, given these circumstances, we believe the best course is to play Thursday afternoon."

High winds and heavy rain have been forecast from South Carolina to New England, depending on where Isabel finally moves ashore.

Isabel's maximum sustained wind speed was clocked late Tuesday night at 110 miles per hour, down from 130 mph on Monday.

The National Weather Service issued a hurricane watch for the coast between Little River Inlet, S.C., and Chincoteague, Va. The governors of North Carolina and Virginia have declared a state of emergency.

NASCAR officials on Tuesday canceled qualifying for the Winston Cup and Busch Grand National series events this weekend at Dover, Del. The MBNA America 400 and the Stacker 200 will be run as scheduled, but Friday's pole qualifying for both races at Dover International Speedway was called off.

The National Weather Service issued a tropical storm watch on Tuesday for the area from the northern Virginia coast to New Jersey, which includes Delaware Bay. The speedway is less than 30 miles from Delaware Bay.

Forecasts predict Isabel will come ashore early Thursday and move through Delaware by Friday morning. The Busch North series race scheduled for Friday was canceled.

The NFL's Baltimore Ravens traveled to San Diego on Wednesday for their Sunday game against the San Diego Chargers.

"The uncertainties of being able to practice in what might be significant winds and rain on Thursday and Friday, plus the ability for our charter to leave on Friday afternoon as originally scheduled, has caused us to adjust our schedules," said Ravens coach Brian Billick.

The hurricane threat also forced postponement of the NBA champion San Antonio Spurs' visit Thursday to the White House. The event is expected to be rescheduled.

Officials expect Thursday's game between Texas A&M and Virginia Tech to go on as planned in Blacksburg, Va. -- weather permitting.

Both teams are 2-0.

The No.8 Hokies haven't lost a game before October since 1996 -- a span of 26 consecutive victories.

The Aggies haven't won a road game against a Top Ten team since they beat No.6 Penn State in 1979.

The University of Maryland Eastern Shore, located in Princess Anne, Md., on Wednesday postponed all weekend athletic contests due to Isabel.

The Champions Tour is in Carry, N.C., for the SAS Championship. The tournament is to begin Friday but may have to be rescheduled. In 1989, Hurricane Hugo came through North Carolina and forced a senior tournament to be canceled in Charlotte.