clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

MLB Rule Changed: No More Tarp-Gates

New, comments

This is something I had hoped would happen. And it's now in the MLB rulebook.

Brian Kersey/Getty Images

Last August, as I'm sure you recall, the Cubs and Giants played a bizarre suspended game that was at first declared a Cubs win after a four-hour-plus rain delay.

The reason it was declared a Cubs victory was that under the rules that existed at the time, no suspension could be declared. In the recap to that wacky evening, I cited a Yankees/Rangers MLB.com game recap from a similar circumstance only a few weeks earlier, which quoted MLB Rule 4.12(a)(3) as the reason the Cubs/Giants game couldn't be suspended:

MLB cited official Baseball Rule 4.12(a)(3) on suspended games, which states:
(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 the control of the home club.
(Mechanical field device shall include automatic tarpaulin or water removal equipment.)

That Yankees/Rangers contest could not have been suspended, because:

"Last night's game was called because of the sudden onset of extreme rain, which affected the ability of the grounds crew to put the tarp in place," the statement said. "Because no 'malfunction of a mechanical field device,' as prescribed in Official Baseball Rule 4.12(a)(3), contributed to the unfortunate circumstances, the game did not meet any criteria to be suspended.

Which is precisely what happened in the Cubs/Giants game. Here's what I wrote about it at the time:

This one can only be described as "absurd" or "ridiculous," and I hope it leads to changes in MLB rules allowing umpires more latitude in when to suspend games.

That's exactly what they've done. Here are the official MLB rules for 2015 (link opens .pdf), and in the introduction it's stated:

The Playing Rules Committee, at its December 2014 meeting, voted to reorganize and recodify the Official Baseball Rules into a more logical and organized manner. No wording was changed (other than the 2015 amendments); only the order and placement of the rules was modified. Throughout the text of this 2015 edition, each rule number and Comment is followed by, in parentheses, the corresponding 2014 rule number from which the "new" rule originated. [Boldface in original]

On the next page are listed a number of 2015 rule changes, including:

Amended Rule 7.02 (a)(3) regarding suspended games (unintentional operator error). (2014 Rule 4.12 (a)(3))

The new Rule 7.02 (a)(3), part of Rule 7.02 governing under what conditions games can be suspended, reads:

Light failure, malfunction of, or unintentional operator error in employing, a mechanical or field device or equipment under the control of the home club (e.g., a retractable roof, a tarpaulin, or other water removal equipment) [Boldface added]

The tl;dr version of all this is: MLB actually did change the rule, presumably, at least in part because of the mess that happened last August 19 at Wrigley Field. Now, if a grounds crew has trouble with a tarp, as the Wrigley crew did that night because of how quickly that storm hit and how much rain it dumped in a short period of time, and the field is deemed unplayable, the game can be suspended.

That's good work, Major League Baseball, to avoid problems like the one that occurred last year at Wrigley.