Wednesday, I wrote that the Giants’ protest had a “zero-percent chance” of being upheld.
Obviously, that turned out to be wrong, and in hindsight, I should have seen the ruling that did occur coming. That’s because everyone involved — the Giants, the umpires and the Cubs — actually wanted the Tuesday night game to be suspended, but could find no basis in the rules to do so.
Finding no way to fit the rules to the situation, they bended the situation to meet the rules. From Major League Baseball’s press release announcing the ruling:
An examination of the circumstances of last night’s game has led to the determination that there was sufficient cause to believe that there was a “malfunction of a mechanical field device under control of the home club” within the meaning of Official Baseball Rule 4.12(a)(3). Available video of the incident, and conversations with representatives of the Cubs, demonstrate that the Cubs’ inability to deploy the tarp appropriately was caused by the failure to properly wrap and spool the tarp after its last use. As a result, the groundskeeping crew was unable to properly deploy the tarp after the rain worsened. In accordance with Rule 4.12(a)(3), the game should be considered a suspended game that must be completed at a future date.
To which I say... well, come on, MLB, this isn't really true. "Failure to properly wrap and spool the tarp after its last use"? Really? Anyone who was at Wrigley or watched the grounds crew struggle with the tarp in high winds and a torrential downpour knows that those conditions were responsible for the "failure," not the things MLB cited above.
Thus, my conclusion is that they did the right thing for the wrong reason. I certainly don't have a problem with suspending this game -- it would have been the right thing to do to suspend it at 10:30 p.m. when it was clear the infield wasn't going to dry, but there's no provision in baseball's rules for doing so. Also, if they're going to finish this game, they really ought to go back and finish the Yankees/Rangers game from July 23, in which an almost identical tarp "failure" occurred:
The members of the grounds crew initially had trouble because the tarp stuck, almost as if by suction, to the infield dirt; they had to roll it backward and start again. But as they went to drag it back toward the infield, heavy winds blew it up, making the task more difficult. It was during that delay that water poured from the sky, adding weight to the tarp until it became almost immovable.”I’ve never seen it when it rained so hard and so fast that it weighed down the tarp and then, with the mud on the infield, it wouldn’t slide,” said the umpire Dale Scott, the crew chief. “That dual effect is what caused the issues. They tried like heck. Obviously, it just happened.
How is that different from the Wrigley situation from Tuesday? Answer: It's not.
I hope that after the season, MLB officials will sit down with team representatives and figure out a way to adjust the rules regarding these types of situations so that umpires do have the leeway to suspend games in extreme cases as we had at Wrigley Tuesday, or at Yankee Stadium last month. That way, you'd be able to suspend a game at a reasonable hour, rather than make everyone involved sit until after 1 a.m. for a resolution.
You’re going to see a bit of history when the game resumes at 4:05 p.m. CT -- weather permitting. It’s the first suspended game at Wrigley Field since lights were installed. Games were permitted to be suspended for darkness from 1969 until the lights were constructed in 1988. In all, 22 games were suspended during that period, the first in 1971, the last two on consecutive days in 1987 when storms prevented games scheduled for 3:05 starts from being finished before dark. From Retrosheet, here’s a list of all the suspended games in MLB history. Suspending games didn’t help the Cubs much; they went 6-14-2 in those 22 games (the two ties were due to special circumstances — this 1981 game, affected by the strike, and this 1985 game, not resumed because it was the Reds’ last visit to Chicago and it had no bearing on any playoff race).
This is also the first upheld protest since 1986 — upheld protests are extremely rare. You probably know about the most famous one, the Pine Tar Game in 1983. Again via Retrosheet, here’s a list of all the upheld protested games in major-league history. I call your particular attention to the August 17, 1947 Dodgers/Phillies game on that list — click on the “Details” link after the date for an amusing story.
So we're living some very rare baseball history with this suspended game and upheld protest. I will post a game thread for the resumed game at 3 p.m. CT, one hour before the scheduled resumption, hoping it doesn't rain... and then the normal game preview for the regularly scheduled game will post at 6 p.m. CT, along with the usual complement of game threads.