Big League Stew

Giants win protest following tarp incident, game to be resumed Thursday

Mark Townsend
Big League Stew

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Though there was a lot of anger and frustration being vented by the San Francisco Giants late Tuesday night into early Wednesday morning, few expected their official protest of the unbelievable tarp incident at Wrigley Field to actually pay off. 

Less than 24 hours later, we all stand together stunned and corrected. 

For those who missed the original story, a quick and heavy rain storm caught the Cubs grounds crew by surprise on Tuesday night and they were unable to complete their typically routine task in a timely manner. By the time the tarp was in place, roughly six or seven minutes after they started, the rains were almost finished, but the field was ultimately left in unplayable condition. The Cubs grounds crew worked over four and a half hours to repair the field, but the decision was made to call the game with Chicago leading 2-0 after four and a half innings, which made it an official game.

It was understood that the safety of the players came first, but San Francisco losing a game under those circumstances felt wrong on several levels. Conspiracy theories were even tossed about by Giants broadcaster Mike Krukow — which is apparently one of his favorite pastimes — but the Cubs made it clear that they were not looking to accept a victory under these circumstances, especially against a team competing for a postseason position.

With that possibly in mind, about an hour before the Giants and Cubs were scheduled to meet again on Wednesday night, Major League Baseball issued a press release confirming that San Francisco's protest has been upheld, and announcing the game will resume from the point it was stopped at 4 p.m. Chicago time on Thursday. 

Major League Baseball announced today that Executive Vice President for Baseball Operations Joe Torre has upheld a protest filed by the San Francisco Giants regarding the calling of their rain-shortened game against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on Tuesday night.

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.

In addition, Major League Baseball has spoken with last night’s crew chief, Hunter Wendelstedt, and has concluded that the grounds crew worked diligently in its attempt to comply with his direction and cover the field. Thus, there is no basis for the game to be forfeited by the Cubs pursuant to Rule 4.16.

For the historical purpose, this marks the first upheld protest since the Pittsburgh Pirates protested a rain-shortened loss to the Cardinals on June 16, 1986. St. Louis went on to win the continued game 4-2. Prior to that, the last upheld protest was the infamous George Brett pine tar incident at Yankee Stadium on July 24, 1983, so it obviously takes unusual circumstances for MLB to uphold a protest, and Tuesday night's tarp debacle fits the bill.

Now it will be interesting to see what the Giants do with their second chance on Thursday. They entered play on Wednesday tied for the NL wild-card lead and four and half games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers for the NL West lead.

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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