Giants' protest upheld, Tuesday's game considered suspended

Giants' protest upheld, Tuesday's game considered suspended
August 20, 2014, 4:30 pm
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I’m frustrated. I’m beside myself ... In this day and age, it cannot happen. It shouldn’t happen. So I’ll leave it at that.
Bruce Bochy, Tuesday night

Programming note: Coverage of the Giants-Cubs suspended game from Tuesday begins Thursday at 1:30 p.m. with Giants Pregame Live. Another Giants Pregame Live will air at 4:30 p.m., taking you up to Thursday's scheduled 5:05 series finale.

CHICAGO –- Now Tarpnado 2014 is part of baseball history, in the same category as the infamous Pine Tar Game.

Major League Baseball upheld the Giants’ protest stemming from Tuesday night’s game at Wrigley Field that was called a 2-0 victory for the Cubs after 4 ½ innings, 15 minutes of hellish rain, one gigantic blunder of a tarp pull and four hours of idle time.

It’s the first protest to be upheld in 28 years -- the Pirates were allowed to resume a called game in 1986 when NL officials ruled that umpires did not wait the allotted minimum time – and it gives the Giants hope to rescue a bit of room in two playoff races.

Tuesday’s game will resume at 2 p.m. PDT on Thursday, at the point where it was postponed.

The Cubs and Giants will proceed with Thursday’s series finale as scheduled, with a first pitch at 5:05 p.m. PDT.

“They listened, and we appreciate it,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “(A chance) is all we wanted.”

[REWIND: Giants plan to protest bizarre loss at Wrigley]

MLB Vice President Joe Torre issued a statement saying that "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."

MLB officials also conferred with umpiring crew chief Hunter Wendelstedt to inquire as to whether there was any malfeasance from the Cubs to sabotage the field.

League officials "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."

According to a source familiar with the discussions, it was significant to Torre and MLB Commissioner Bud Selig that Cubs officials supported the notion of a suspended game and took responsibility for the malfunction, in which the tarp was unrolled askew and left large sections of the infield exposed, rendering it unplayable even after four hours of efforts to repair it.

The Cubs cooperated fully and volunteered information on the mechanical nature of the tarp’s malfunction, a source said.

Prior to MLB’s announcement, Bochy said he was encouraged the Giants had a strong case.

"The Cubs want to do the right thing, too," Bochy said. “You want to do what’s right and what’s good for baseball. We appreciate them listening because this is different, this is unique, and we have not been in these waters before … so to speak.

"We stated our case and we think it’s a good case."

The New York Yankees and Texas Rangers faced a similar situation July 23, when a sudden thunderstorm and high winds in the fifth inning at Yankee Stadium made it difficult for the grounds crew to get the tarp on the field. The Yankees were awarded a 2-1 victory, with Rangers manager Ron Washington saying MLB officials told them they could not protest.

"We were told we can’t protest it," Washington told reporters at the time. "But we complained."

Now you can bet the league will field complaints -- from the Dodgers, Cardinals, Pirates and other NL clubs the Giants are battling for both the NL West title and the wild card – saying the league is going against a precedent it set just four weeks ago.

But because the Rangers didn’t file a protest, it could be argued that no precedent had been set.

Giants GM Brian Sabean wasn’t immediately available for comment but the club released a statement from President Larry Baer: "We appreciate Major League Baseball's careful review of our protest that will allow last night's game to be continued tomorrow. We want to thank Commissioner Bud Selig, Commissioner-elect Rob Manfred, Executive Vice President for Baseball Operations Joe Torre and the Chicago Cubs organization for their cooperation throughout this process."

The Giants' protest was just the sixth to be upheld in 60 years and the first involving the Giants since 1943, when a game against the Phillies was suspended in the ninth inning and resumed nearly three months later. (The protest stemmed from whether a hit batter attempted to get out of the way.)

Of course, the most infamous protest in baseball history happened in 1983 at Yankee Stadium, when the Kansas City Royals appealed an umpire’s ruling that disallowed his home run because it contained too much pine tar. The image of a furious Brett charging onto the field is one of the indelible pieces of video in baseball lore.

Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti, a member of the Yankees in 1983, found himself in a familiar place on Tuesday.

"With (Yankees owner George) Steinbrenner, it seemed we protested every game," Righetti said. "But it never held up. That one went to court. This one looks like it’s going to end on the field, which is the way it should be.

"It’s a part of the folklore now," Righetti continued. "It’s the fairest thing. It’s what we were looking for last night. … We’re looking forward to playing it, I know that."

Righetti noted that four times in his career, plus the 2010 regular-season finale with the Padres, came down to the last day.

“Each game means a lot,” he said.

Of course, back in 1986 the last time this happened, the Pirates won the protest but still lost the game. The final score was 4-2 instead of 4-1.

So, the Giants haven’t won anything yet. Anything more than a shot, anyway – and a place in baseball lore.