A shooting star across the sky in terms of news recently was the fact that the San Francisco Giants appealed an on-field decision in a game versus the Chicago Cubs and actually won it.
While these kinds of machinations are so mind-numbing (think courtroom procedurals not written by John Grisham) this time the action woke up the baseball world.
All you need to know is that it is easier to get a lower court decision overturned by the United States Supreme Court than it is to get Major League Baseball to overturn a decision made during a game.
The historic moment
On Tuesday, Aug. 19, the Giants and Cubs were playing at Wrigley Field. In the bottom, or home half, of the fifth inning the Cubs led 2-0. Then a monsoon struck, soaking the players, the field and fans. Since Chicago was ahead going into the last of the fifth, the umpires ruled that it was an official game and would go into the record books as a Cubs victory.
This made Giants manager Bruce Bochy rather grumpy. While he did not publicly say that the Chicago grounds crew was so lackadaisical in putting tarp on the field that it was tantamount to stealing the win, he definitely made it clear that he believed they moved slower than turtles.
The upshot was that the Giants did not feel the Cubs won the game fair and square. They contended that if the tarp had been rolled onto the field in a timely manner then the game would have been able to resume following a rain delay. Instead, everyone went home and the game went into the Cubs’ win column.
Or so people thought. Not so fast. The Giants filed a protest with Major League Baseball’s administrators and to the shock of many the appeal was upheld. The baseball supremes ruled that the grounds crew had put the tarp away sloppily the preceding time it was used. Unlike failure to stop an execution until after the inmate is dead, MLB could stop the clock and go back. In addition to publicizing the decision and forcing the unusual circumstance of picking up the game at a later time, the most astounding aspect of the affair was that no appeal had been granted since 1986.
That’s 28 years without a single, solitary successful appeal. Not that baseball people had reason to be cynical, but a large percentage of players in the game today were not even alive the last time such an appeal was approved. Kind of makes one think that any appeal is fruitless, that any appeal is treated frivolously, and that even having an appeal process is a waste of time.
This protest will not resonate in history in the way the March on Washington did 51 years ago, or those street protests against the Vietnam War, but it was nonetheless a protest filed in which someone listened and responded.
Truth and justice prevailed, despite additional delay. The game was finished two days later and the result didn’t change, only the final score. The Cubs won 2-1. But ironically, the start of that game was put back nearly two hours because it rained once again. This time the tarp protected the field.