San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy said after Tuesday night's game at Wrigley Field was called that the team would be filing a protest, and Bochy is true to his word, as the Giants did exactly that early Wednesday. Here's the basis of his protest:
The Giants formally filed a protest with Major League Baseball this morning, citing Rule 4.12 (a)(3) and claiming the Cubs’ grounds crew didn’t do what umpires requested Tuesday night at Wrigley Field. "We believe that the rules were not properly applied last night," Giants president and CEO Larry Baer said in a phone interview. Baer wouldn’t provide specifics of the protest, but the issue concerning the Giants is that the umpires directed the grounds crew to cover the field – and the grounds crew didn’t comply. The crew brought the tarp onto the infield crookedly, and the weight of the water from the rainstorm prematurely ended their efforts to cover it fully. As a result, areas around the plate and on the left side of the infield were exposed to more rain. Here’s Rule 4.12 (a)(3) regarding suspended games: (a) A game shall become a suspended game that must be completed at a future date if the game is terminated for any of the following reasons: (3) Light failure or malfunction of a mechanical field device under control of the home club. (Mechanical field device shall include automatic tarpaulin or water removal equipment); The Giants say the Wrigley tarp — the cylinder of which was waterlogged, they heard – is indeed a "mechanical field device," giving them grounds for the protest.
I don't see any possible way that the Wrigley Field tarp could be considered a "mechanical field device." There are ballparks that have automatic tarps that aren't handled by grounds-crew members, but the Wrigley tarp is simply a large piece of, well, tarpaulin, that's wrapped around a metal cylinder, unrolled by human beings and placed on the ground. In my view, there's no way that process at Wrigley Field could be described as "mechanical."
While there's always room for Major League Baseball to surprise everyone and uphold this protest and order the game resumed in the bottom of the fifth inning, I'd say that possibility is extremely remote. It doesn't seem to me as if the rules were "improperly applied" in this case, as the Giants allege.
Further, if you think it's been a long time since a protest was upheld, you're correct. No protested game has been ordered resumed since June 16, 1986, when this Cardinals/Pirates game was protested by the Pirates, who, in a rain-delay situation, said the umpires didn't wait long enough before calling the game:
The umpire in chief, John Kibler, called the game after rain delays of 17 and 22 minutes. Between the delays, play resumed long enough for two pitches to be thrown. Feeney said he agreed with the Pirates' contention that Kibler called the game prematurely. National League regulations require that umpires wait at least 75 minutes during an initial weather interruption and 45 minutes during a second one before calling a game.
This incident, in fact, is one reason umpires now wait a long, long time to call games. Perhaps common sense ought to prevail. Incidentally, the Pirates lost that game.
So it's been more than 28 years since a protested game was ordered resumed. I don't think that span is going to be ended with Tuesday's game at Wrigley Field.