The “Perfect Storm” headline is too easy for what occurred Tuesday night at Wrigley Field, but it fits the best. There are a lot of frayed emotions among the San Francisco Giants and their fans today because of what happened and believe me, I sympathize. I think the Cubs and the umpires and Major League Baseball did too last night, which is why they waited four and a half hours before calling the game.
In this Twitter world, we love to point fingers at people when something goes awry like this. The easy choice here is the grounds crew simply because it had a difficult time covering the infield with the tarp. But there’s a little problem with that quick analysis. The crew can only put the tarp on the field when instructed to do so by the crew chief. And do not get me wrong, this does not shift the blame to crew chief Hunter Wendelstedt, who waited a few extra seconds to delay the game amidst the sky completely opening up over the ballpark. He was under the impression that it was a quickly passing, light shower.
You see, sometimes (and this seems to happen in Chicago a lot, doesn’t it) the weather changes in a heartbeat and without warning. So what you had was this unfortunate chain of events:
A light, quick shower is anticipated.
A heavy, unanticipated deluge pummels the field.
The crew chief calls for the tarp.
The grounds crew frantically tries to get the tarp onto the infield as quickly as possible.
The rain and wind immediately impede the grounds crew from completing the job.
The uncovered portions of the infield are irreparably drenched in a matter of several minutes.
It stops raining and we wait and wait and wait and wait.
Those in charge don’t suspend the game (which was halted just after it became an “official” game) because there is no such rule to allow for it under the evening’s circumstances.
The saturation of the infield has no chance of letting up with the high humidity and no sun in the wee hours of the night no matter how much Diamond Dry and dirt is piled onto the problem areas.
The Giants stew in their clubhouse while the Cubs do what they can to salvage the playing surface.
Finally, the game is called when it’s obvious the field won’t dry until the morning.
Maybe I am missing something, but it sure seems to me that the unanticipated shower, the subsequent late reaction to it and the inability to just pack up and resume the following day are the main reasons for what happened. Yes, the optics of the grounds crew struggling to cover the dirt looked bad, but I was there watching the rain pile up on the tarp and believe me, it all happened in what appeared to be the snap of your fingers.
Again, I get the Giants’ angst. It’s a terribly unfortunate thing that occurred. But the game went the requisite amount of innings, the Cubs had the lead and the rules dictated the result. If anything, it’s the suspension rule that should be changed. Beyond that, it’s just another strange baseball occurrence. Crazy, isn’t it?