The San Francisco Giants won their protest Wednesday, the first such victory in 28 years. But an ever rarer thing happened this week: MLB got it right two days in a row.
It’s been a lot longer than 28 years since that’s happened in a sport where its two leagues play by different rules.
Tuesday Joe Torre took a hit away from Derek Jeter (happy Trevor Bauer?) and Wednesday he refused to reward the Cubs with a win as a result of their grounds crew’s incompetence. Not that the Cubs wanted it anyway.
Maybe on Thursday Torre touched Brandon McCarthy. No word on what he has planned for the weekend.
But upholding the protest was less of an upset than it might seem, given that the defendant (the Cubs) joined the plantiff (Giants) when it came time to give testimony.
“The last thing you want is a playoff team feeling bitter about the result here,” Cubs GM Jed Hoyer said. “And obviously it was caused by our organization. It’s a good outcome.”
If so, a Cubs fan must think, it’s the first good outcome at Wrigley Field in half a dozen years. Poor Cubs fans. They don’t even win when they win.
Somebody in Chicago must believe you reap what you sow. Of course, it may take a while for this magnanimous gesture to pay off (remember when Javier Baez homered three times in his first 14 at-bats in Colorado? Back at sea level, he has just four extra-base hits in his last 41 at-bats and has fanned 12 times in his last 24. Great power, great potential and a great, big hole in his swing. But that’s another post for another day).
MLB found a technicality to uphold the protest, saying the Cubs’ inability to get the tarp on the field “was caused by the failure to properly wrap and spool the tarp after its last use,” according to an MLB statement.
Whatever. If MLB couldn’t find a reason, it should have made one up. Think George Brett, pine tar on the bat and spirit of the rule.
This is the second time this season a team has earned a win, or would have done so, because the home team’s ground crew couldn’t protect the field during a rain delay.
It happened to the Rangers at Yankee Stadium, but the Rangers just shrugged, accepted their fate and didn’t protest, which is one reason they’re 28 games under .500 and last in the AL West. It’s how they’ve handled everything this year. That and they probably would have lost anyway.
But the Giants are in a pennant race. They shouldn’t lose a game after 15 minutes of a hard rain and four and a half hours of delay because the Cubs’ ground crew is as inept as the team is.
Of course, the grounds crews have impacted games before. The Dodgers used to accuse the Giants of wetting down the ground off first base, so base stealer Maury Wills couldn’t gain traction. Ground ball pitchers always seem to have longer grass at home, the better with which to slow even the hardest-hit ground balls down. But gamesmanship is one thing. Determining the result is another.
If MLB didn’t uphold the protest, pretty soon home teams would be platooning ground crews: one competent group for when they’re behind, the incompetent one for when they’re ahead.
Although it’s possible even the Cubs would mess that up.