Cubs all wet, win 2-0 after four-plus-hour rain delay
BY GORDON WITTENMYER Staff Reporter August 19, 2014 10:54PM
Updated: August 20, 2014 8:40PM
Leave it to the Cubs to have a rain delay that winds up on Deadspin.
As Tuesday night slipped into Wednesday morning at Wrigley Field, the Cubs remained stuck on the fifth inning of a game against the San Francisco Giants, more than two hours after the passing storm that started all the havoc.
A delayed call for the tarp by umpire crew chief Hunter Wendelstedt and an ensuing series of tarp snafus by the grounds crew — forced to scramble in an increasingly heavy downpour — turned a passing shower into a perfect storm and a classic Cubbie Occurrence.
If the Cubs hadn’t led the contending Giants 2-0 with the top of the fifth inning complete, most of the issue would have been resolved; the game would have been suspended into Wednesday or postponed.
But because the rules make the 2-0 score the official result if the game cannot be resumed — and because the problem was created by the field becoming oversaturated because of home-team tarp issues — the grounds crew was put into overdrive to fix the field.
The Giants trailed the Los Angeles Dodgers by 3½ games in the National League West entering the day and were tied with the St. Louis Cardinals for the NL’s top wild-card spot, with the Atlanta Braves one game behind the Giants and Cardinals. Both the Cardinals and Braves won Tuesday.
Wendelstedt allowed the top of the fifth to be completed under a heavy rain, then waited until warmups in the bottom half were complete before calling for the tarp — as the rain increased, with the grounds crew forced to rush through what then turned into a sideways-blowing deluge.
It got so bad for the crew that the tarp roll appeared to get stuck slightly out of position, creating a problem pulling it over the entire infield.
At one point, as the crew struggled to fully unfurl the tarp, the crowd booed and then chanted, ‘‘Pull! Pull! Pull!’’
It wasn’t until the crew pulled the tarp back off the field and tried again that it finally got the field covered, at which point the crowd gave a large ovation and chanted, ‘‘USA! USA! USA!’’
More than 2½ hours later — more than 1½ hours after the rain stopped — the grounds crew was still spreading drying agent on a soggy infield. That’s about when the first public-address announcement told fans the teams hoped to eventually resume play.
But between Wendelstedt’s late call and the tarp problems, rain drenched the field before the tarp went down, and it was spilled on again as the tarp was removed, created pond-sized puddles behind the infield.
The two managers joined the umpires and stadium officials twice to determine playability, the first time sending the crew back out with drying agent, the second time deciding to play but only after another lengthy wait for the field to dry more.