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Clown shoes in Chicago: the Cubs grounds crew couldn’t get the tarp on the field

Aug 20, 2014, 7:19 AM EDT

The rains came. The rains lasted only fifteen minutes. The Chicago Cubs grounds crew, however, failed to do the one job it had in that situation:

The tarp was all crooked and so much of the field was left uncovered by it turing the downpour, that the infield was basically soaked. They took over four hours after the rain stopped to try to fix things, but it couldn’t be fixed. The field was too wet to play and the game — already official under the rules — was called. The Cubs win 2-0.

Not that this will end things. As Andrew Baggarly of reports, the Giants are mulling a protest. For their part, the Cubs were willing to simply agree to call it a suspended, rather than an official game, but they can’t just do that because the rules don’t allow for it. Rule 4.12, the rule which covers suspended games, only allows for suspended games in six situations:

(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:
(1) A curfew imposed by law;
(2) A time limit permissible under league rules;
(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);
(4) Darkness, when a law prevents the lights from being turned on;
(5) Weather, if a regulation game is called while an inning is in progress and before the inning is completed, and the visiting team has scored one or more runs to take the lead, and the home team has not retaken the lead; or
(6) It is a regulation game that is called with the score tied. National Association Leagues may also adopt the following rules for suspended games. (If adopted by a National Association League, Rule 4.10(e) would not apply to their games.):

Subsection (3) may sorta apply here as at least it invokes the tarp, but this was not an automated tarp situation. It was human error. Perhaps everyone can look past that and just say “close enough” and try to resume this game later, but to do that Major League Baseball will have to ignore the fact that this exact thing happened last month in New York in a Yankees-Rangers game and that game was deemed official despite grounds crew incompetence. And no, you can’t just say “well, this game has playoff implications for the Giants.” On June 23 — and maybe even now — the Yankees have an argument of playoff significance. And even though the Rangers stink, their record matters for things like draft order.

Baseball will likely mull this today — perhaps considering whether to invoke The Best Interests of Baseball clause. But for now, everyone can mostly just fume. Like Bruce Bochy. Who definitely fumed:

Feeling your pain, there, Bruce.

  1. nottinghamforest13 - Aug 20, 2014 at 7:26 AM

    “Thanks to the Chicago Cubs grounds crew, however, failed to do the one job it had in that situation”

    Take an extra 30 seconds to proofread that which you have written. You’re supposed to be a professional for Pete’s sake. Enough laziness already.

    • 18thstreet - Aug 20, 2014 at 7:33 AM

      He has one job.

      In this case, that job is to kick down on some of the lowest paid people in the stadium and making it sound like their job is easy.

      • Jack Glasscock's Cup - Aug 20, 2014 at 8:14 AM

        Cue “Preacher and the Slave,” written by Joe Hill, and pour out a PBR for your fallen brethren.

      • stex52 - Aug 20, 2014 at 8:24 AM

        Kind of a weak argument. It may be hard or it may be easy. It’s still their job.

      • thatsnuckinfuts - Aug 20, 2014 at 9:21 AM

        Funny considering Craig how much failure Craig has experienced in his life. Craig has pretty much failed at everything life has put in front of him, yet here he is throwing stones. (Throwing like a girl no doubt)

      • jrbdmb - Aug 20, 2014 at 12:53 PM

        He is writing a MLB blog for NBC Sports. Sounds like a good gig to me.

        And what exactly are *you* doing right now, thatsnuckinfuts, other than posting comments under a stupid nickname?

      • 18thstreet - Aug 20, 2014 at 12:57 PM

        I’m with JRBDMB. I think Craig generally has interesting things to say, which is why I come here. In the past couple days, I disagreed with Craig a couple times — this thread and one about Eddie Gaedel — but I think he generally has worthwhile comments.

        I will never, ever understand people who go out of their way to visit and criticize media they despise. If you hate Craig, stop coming here. I hate [a particularly partisan media source], so I don’t watch it. It’s not hard.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Aug 20, 2014 at 9:23 AM

      Ooops. I made a writing mistake. And, within an hour or so, I fixed it. And no harm was done to anyone as a result.

      The Cubs grounds crew made a grounds crew mistake. They couldn’t fix it in four hours, and it may have cost the Giants a game. If things go a certain way, it might cost them a playoff spot.

      And FWIW: I am willing to bet a large amount of money that the head groundskeeper for the Cubs makes more money than I do.

      • thatsnuckinfuts - Aug 20, 2014 at 9:38 AM

        I thought you were all for keeping the “Human Element” in the game. Well there you go, Umps and their horrid inconsistent strike zones have been costing teams shots at the playoffs for over 100 years.

      • Craig Calcaterra - Aug 20, 2014 at 10:00 AM

        Not sure I’ve ever argued for “the human element.” You have me confused with someone else.

      • jeffbbf - Aug 20, 2014 at 10:21 AM

        maybe the fact that the Giants couldn’t score a run in 5 innings off some guy named Wada is what really cost them the game. After all, they were losing the game. It’s not like a win was snatched from them. Cost them a playoff spot? Bah.

      • recoveringcubsfan - Aug 20, 2014 at 10:27 AM

        Jeff has a point – no game has ever been decided after the 5th inning. I can’t understand why games even have innings 6-9. Sometimes more? Bah!

      • jeffbbf - Aug 20, 2014 at 10:28 AM

        Most of us hard-working slobs don’t like being called clowns if we make a mistake.

      • chiadam - Aug 20, 2014 at 12:33 PM

        The guy that just served me a value meal makes more money than you do.

      • cubfan531 - Aug 20, 2014 at 1:21 PM

        So the fact that the field was already pretty soaked by the time the grounds crew even had a chance to get the tarp down, no blame of that goes to the ump for not calling the game sooner? They were working against the clock in a situation that was already rather awful. What exactly were you struggling against with this, the threat of Gleeman beating you to the punch? This wasn’t a standard rainstorm, this was a very powerful, very small rainstorm that was pretty much impossible to predict would hit Wrigley until it was too late.

      • jlovenotjlo - Aug 20, 2014 at 1:51 PM

        Do you not at least see the irony of making a mistake doing your job while chastising a group of people for making a mistake at theirs?

        I think in the world of internet blogs, small typographical and grammatical errors are more than permissible. However, to commit one while in the act of berating workers for on the job incompetence is just fantastically ironic. Nothing more, nothing less, and probably nothing you should even get mad about.

      • nottinghamforest13 - Aug 20, 2014 at 4:40 PM

        Who else remembers the time Craig used his bully pulpit to berate people for not hiring Kim Ng as a general manager yet when given a chance to take the issue up w/ Keith Law, a peer who can stand up for himself, Craig sat silent?

      • tq6171 - Aug 21, 2014 at 6:01 PM

        Why would you say that the grounds crew had only one job to do that night? They start work hours before a game, and stay long past the end of the game. If the batter’s box hadn’t been striped by game time (for example), thereby delaying the game, would you have written that that was the only job they had to do that night?

    • unclemosesgreen - Aug 20, 2014 at 9:49 AM

      Being unprofessional and blowing up about people not doing their jobs correctly while not doing his own job carefully or correctly is Craig’s thing. You must be new here.

      • Craig Calcaterra - Aug 20, 2014 at 10:01 AM

        Again, you take issue with me, yet you are unwilling to defend the thing I am taking issue with.

        So please: defend the grounds crew here. Tell us how good a job they did. We’ll all wait.

      • unclemosesgreen - Aug 20, 2014 at 10:02 AM

        I’m not talking about the grounds crew. I’m talking about how you have time for endless navel gazing but can’t bother to spell check or edit your posts.

      • jb8588 - Aug 20, 2014 at 10:15 AM

        Agreed! I can’t remember how many times now I’ve seen spelling/grammer errors in his articles posted on here…it’s like Craig just types away and submits the enter button without even looking at what he typed! Proof reading is much needed at NBC Sports because I sure don’t see anywhere close to this many errors on the other major sites.

      • Craig Calcaterra - Aug 20, 2014 at 10:27 AM

        If you can’t get over some grammatical or typographical errors from time to time perhaps you need to go someplace else. Like, say, an anger management specialist.

      • unclemosesgreen - Aug 20, 2014 at 10:37 AM

        I guess it’s easier for you to be smug, superior and nasty than to do your job properly.

        Let me explain, using small and simple words, what it is that all of these people are trying to tell you. If you are going to be the self-appointed baseball scold and throw big rocks at every single writer, player, manager, general manager and even every grounds crew who doesn’t perform to the level you expect, maybe you should try to rock-proof your glass house.

        Also, not for nothin, but we obviously have a very different definition of “from time to time.”

      • Craig Calcaterra - Aug 20, 2014 at 11:41 AM

        If you’re going to equate writing errors with a grounds crew failing to do the single thing it is tasked with doing when it rains, thereby prematurely ending a game, I think our differences of opinion extends beyond “from time to time.”

      • unclemosesgreen - Aug 20, 2014 at 11:55 AM

        I’m just trolling you Craig.

        I’m not really wound up about the typos, which are legion. It’s about the nasty edge to this article, to guys doing a job that they are competent at and know how to do properly, but they got unlucky and had a bad night.

        You understood it and had a basically reasonable take when this happened and the Yankees got a rain-shortened win out of that.

        For Pete’s sake, Mother Nature makes it impossible for these guys to do their jobs once in a while.

        You’re off your rocker here, Craig. There’s a totally unnecessarily nasty edge to a lot of the stuff you’re posting lately, and I don’t like it. You’re piling on working-class stiffs, and I think you should stop.

        This is what I should have written instead of stooping to your level.

      • Uncle Charlie - Aug 20, 2014 at 11:41 AM

        Aww poor CC trolled, love it

      • Craig Calcaterra - Aug 20, 2014 at 11:49 AM

        That ain’t trolling. Trolling is getting someone to engage in an argument you’re not serious about just to see if they’ll take the bait. Moses has beaten this “you make typos so you can’t criticize anyone” drum for years. He’s legit wound up about it.

  2. blogtendi - Aug 20, 2014 at 7:34 AM

    Reblogged this on BLOGTENDI.

  3. pete2112 - Aug 20, 2014 at 8:04 AM

    That grounds crew could definitely use some PED’s. Right Craig?

    • renaado - Aug 20, 2014 at 8:13 AM

      I’ll go with sugar.

      • 4d3fect - Aug 20, 2014 at 8:28 AM

        MORE SUGAR!

      • tigersfandan - Aug 20, 2014 at 11:08 AM

        Pie or cake?

      • renaado - Aug 20, 2014 at 11:11 AM

        Both. I’ll add in some chocolates too.

  4. simon94022 - Aug 20, 2014 at 8:07 AM

    Let’s see: Giants lose game to Cubs on an absurd technicality in the middle of a playoff race and league refuses to provide common sense relief. I blame Fred Merkle!

    • simon94022 - Aug 20, 2014 at 10:43 AM

      Tough crowd this morning. I was just joking about the Merkle comparison but got lots of thumbs down. Good thing I didn’t use a stray “however” like Craig did, or the grammar nannies would be piling on. :)

  5. chill1184 - Aug 20, 2014 at 8:22 AM

    So if the league has any sense is it possible to get a game 163 between the Giants and Cubs?

    • Jack Glasscock's Cup - Aug 20, 2014 at 8:57 AM

      There’s about as much chance of that as getting a free ticket out of an airline after a weather delay made you miss your connection.

      • chill1184 - Aug 20, 2014 at 10:15 AM

        True but I figure I would ask the question out of curiosity not out of sympathy for the Giants.

  6. sportsfan18 - Aug 20, 2014 at 8:37 AM

    Theo is perfecting a new way for the Cubs to win is all…

    It’s all a part of his plan…

    He gave Jed the easy part, making it rain…

    Theo was in charge of hiring the grounds crew… he went to area McDonald’s and hired away the great help there… Just as they sit and text their friends while we stand there waiting for them to take our order, the grounds crew was busy doing other things instead of their job…

  7. Paper Lions - Aug 20, 2014 at 8:51 AM

    With modern radar, was there really no warning that this was going to happen? It can’t be that easy to get a tarp on the field while it is raining that hard and water is accumulating both on and under that tarp that quickly.

    • Bryz - Aug 20, 2014 at 8:56 AM

      Games never (or at least rarely) are delayed until the weather becomes severe. They will play for as long as they possibly can, so while radar easily could predict when the storms would hit, the umpires are still going to get as much of the game in as they could.

      • Paper Lions - Aug 20, 2014 at 8:59 AM

        I’ve seen games where the crew put the tarp on before the rains came because the umps were told that a storm was coming and it was going to be bad but short and they go ahead and protect the field knowing that the game was going in. It looked like they were trying to just ride it out because they were told it was a passing shower.

    • sportsdrenched - Aug 20, 2014 at 9:19 AM

      As kind of a weather geek I’m with you. It astounds me that with the type of revenue that the NFL and MLB generate that they can’t get a decent local weather guy to do forecasts and watch radars. And not just watch radars. Anyone drawing a paycheck to watch or predict weather will be able to tell you about gust fronts, wild temperature swings, hail, or whether the rain will light or heavy.

      I especially extend my irritation to the broadcast networks. Nothing worse than sports announcers talking about stuff they know nothing about. So either give them a weather 101 class, or get someone who does know.

      • jeffbbf - Aug 20, 2014 at 10:24 AM

        I live about 10 miles from Wrigley field. Never saw a cloud. Very local, last second, pop-up storm. No radar could have pinpointed that this particular downpour would hit Wrigley Field.

      • sportsdrenched - Aug 20, 2014 at 10:41 AM

        Radar wouldn’t. But a trained spotter would have noticed the updrafts in the air and could have given a heads up.

        A forecaster would have known the air was unstable enough that a pop storm was a possibility.

        This isn’t rocket science…OK so maybe it’s similar.

      • jeffbbf - Aug 20, 2014 at 2:29 PM

        so…MLB clubs should have a “trained spotter” on the payroll to spot “updrafts”? Funny stuff.

      • sportsdrenched - Aug 20, 2014 at 3:28 PM

        It is what it is. If giving the grounds crew little bit of a heads up is important there are relatively easy ways to do that. Certainly not as big a deal as NOT being prepared as the Cubs crew seems to have been last night.

  8. umrguy42 - Aug 20, 2014 at 8:53 AM

    “perhaps considering whether to invoke The Best Interests of Baseball clause”

    Oh Craig, don’t make me laugh. They couldn’t be bothered to fix Gallaraga’s (shoulda been) perfect game, you really think Bud Lite’s gonna care about a grounds crew malfunction?

    Also, has anybody used an automatic tarp since Vince Coleman got eaten by one?

    • stex52 - Aug 20, 2014 at 9:11 AM

      They are much more likely to fix this one that Gallaraga’s perfect game for one simple reason. A playoff spot is worth tens of millions in potential earnings to a team.

      Nice records for those who deserve them are a good thing. But you’re talking $$$$ here. That’s what really drives the league.

  9. caputop - Aug 20, 2014 at 9:19 AM

    I still don’t understand why we have shortened games at all.

    yea, call a september game between the mets and the cubs because who cares, but why can’t every game that might matter go the complete 9, even if they have to finish it another day?

    • jeffbbf - Aug 20, 2014 at 10:26 AM

      Define “might matter”. Playoff related? Draft pick related? Revenue related? Every game matters in some way, shape, or form.

      • Bob Loblaw - Aug 20, 2014 at 2:58 PM

        Yeah but draft pick related would be helping a team lose. That’s entirely different than playoff related, which is helping a team win. Two totally different things made the same by Craig and you in this post. Draft order should not mean dick when it comes to shortening a game, but playoff implications should absolutely.

        I would say any game from game 1 through 120 should be played to completion no matter what. After 121, you go to the playoff implications and the best interest of baseball and let the commissioner decide. Everybody loves the new one anyway, so I am sure you will all trust his judgment.

  10. hcf95688 - Aug 20, 2014 at 9:35 AM

    Who cares what the Giants are or are not happy about?

    They were unhappy that their catcher didn’t know how to tag runners out and set out on a one team crusade to ruin baseball.

  11. whatwouldvindo - Aug 20, 2014 at 11:07 AM

    I don’t comment very often, but it seems for all of the “Craig is a syntax/spelling/error prone oaf” comments the obvious question is, why do all of you continue to come back and read his posts? I’m certain that in the vastness of the internet there are other sources for baseball news and stories that would be less offensive. And before the inevitable “it’s the principle of the thing…he’s a moralistic soap boxer and doesn’t deserve to run other people down for how they do their job” arguments begin, common sense would again indicate if you know his writing lean and don’t agree then go somewhere else for your information. If I didn’t like hamburgers I wouldn’t go to in-n-out expecting to get chicken.

    • jeffbbf - Aug 20, 2014 at 2:31 PM

      Craig’s not the only poster here, dingus.

  12. garlicfriesandbaseball - Aug 20, 2014 at 3:09 PM

    Reblogged this on Garlicfriesandbaseball's Blog and commented:
    Ronni’s Comment: Yesterday during the Cubs -Giants game there was a torrential downpour. I mean the kind that monsoons are made of. It lasted probably 15-20 minutes. But when the grounds crew tried to put the tarp on the field it turned into a nightmare for the guys pulling the tarp for sure, but also for the Giants fans and, in particular, for Mike Krukow, commentator for the Giants

    I’m not sure I agree with the official ruling, but Mike Krukow commented several times during the rain delay stating in his words to the effect that the field crew “intentionally” screwed up the laying of the tarp. That it was totally intentional. That it wouldn’t have happened if the Cubs had been behind.

    And I say shame on you Mike Krukow. You know better. Just because the Giants have won a few championships doesn’t give us the right to belittle others. We (the Giants) have been playing pretty lousy lately but that’s not a reason to take it out on the grounds crews or the umpires.

    I’ve heard other commentators say similar things when I’ve had to listen to them from the opponent’s perspective and I’ve always been glad we were blessed with our own special Kruk & Kuip. They are a class act, top of the game, and they know everything! So I’m hoping this was just a bad day for Mike and I’m hoping he’s hoping it doesn’t happen again. But that’s just me hoping.

    I can’t wait to hear what they have to say tonight, about last night, and praying it doesn’t rain again!

  13. hlang - Aug 20, 2014 at 6:08 PM

    If all the butthurt Craig haters and Cubs fans and grounds crew fans would borrow a brain for a second they could sit down and commiserate with Craig, who missed what caused the screw up as much as grammarians and apologists for screw ups did. The crew unrolled the tarp at an angle to the base path between first and second rather than parallel to it. This caused a substantial portion of the infield to remain uncovered. Their attempts to fix this elementary error by devoting several minutes to unavailing tugs at the tarp, and then by laying down tiny patchwork tarps almost randomly on the bare areas, and then partly rolling up the already waterlogged tarp and unrolling it again, spewing collected water into the grass, allowed the field to become drenched. After the rain ended they compounded their idiocy (or, to be fair, complete unfamiliarity grounds keeping) by rolling up the tarp in such a way that all the water on it drained onto the shortstop area.

    The grounds crew failed spectacularly many times in a short period. More spectacularly even than Craig did by making a single typo, as hard as that may be for some to believe. And the Cubs continue to defend them by repeating the totally irrelevant story, factual or not, that the problem was caused by the storm not being spotted on radar. Rain started, grounds crew screwed up repeatedly to the extent of effectively drenching the field themselves, game over.

  14. hlang - Aug 20, 2014 at 7:21 PM

    And MLB agrees it was a monumental screw up, upholding Giants protest, declaring the contest a suspended game to be completed tomorrow. Butthurt grounds keeper and Cubs fans will have to delay their gratification until the Giants continue to fail to score. Craig haters and highly selective copy editors will, unfortunately for them, never find gratification.

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