Staffing issue may have been responsible for Cubs ‘tarp gate’

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from Chicago Sun-Times,

A staffing decision by the Cubs’ stadium operations might have made as big a difference as any “mechanical’’ issue in creating the tarp-related mess Tuesday night that led to the historic decision Wednesday to uphold the San Francisco Giants’ challenge of what was originally ruled a rain-shortened Cubs victory.

Sources said the Cubs ordered grounds-crew staffing reductions this week to cover recent “overages” in hours by the crew.

The crew’s failure to quickly cover the field with the tarp during a sudden heavy shower in the fifth inning Tuesday night — and spillage while removing it — created unplayable field conditions that could not be resolved during a four-hour, 34-minute delay.

Cubs GM Jed Hoyer lauded the quality and efforts of the grounds crew and did not attribute the problems to staffing. The Cubs’ baseball department appeared to have no knowledge of the details of that department.

But he did say the club planned to review what went wrong Tuesday night. Widely respected head groundskeeper Roger Baird was not available for comment.

But a source with knowledge of the crew working Tuesday night said only 12 regular members of the grounds crew staffed that game, instead of the typical 25. Inexperienced “facilities employees” supplemented the more seasoned crew members.

Whether that was the direct cause of the problems, it took two tries by Tuesday’s crew to cover the infield — failing the first time after stopping the roll at a bad angle and winding up with third base and home plate uncovered.

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