MESA, Ariz. -- The Cubs have had their share of on-field execution issues over the last century. They’re working on 106 years without a World Series championship, after all.
The slapstick extended to their grounds crew Saturday afternoon.
There is a right and wrong way to pull a tarp, and the Cubs yanked the rug out from under the paying customers, the Giants -- and themselves. The grounds crew emptied the tarp into center field, rather than pulling it along one of the foul lines, and the resulting lakes on the infield dirt rendered their gorgeous new facility unplayable.
“I was shocked,” said Giants manager Bruce Bochy, as he hustled his players onto the bus. “I don’t know what happened.”
Giants GM Brian Sabean clearly wasn’t happy as he waited for word in the press box. When the Giants began loading equipment bags onto carts, that was announcement enough.
Matt Cain, who was scheduled to make his Cactus League debut, instead went back to Scottsdale Stadium to throw 35 pitches over two simulated innings off an indoor mound. Tim Hudson will remain on schedule to make his Giants exhibition debut on Sunday.
It was a weird afternoon. A heavy thunderstorm cell soaked the region just after noon, and lightning crackled for more than a half-hour. But it began to clear a few minutes before the scheduled first pitch, and tarps were being pulled back across the Cactus League. Five other games started on time or after a brief delay to prepare the field. Given that the city of Mesa doled out $100 million to build Cubs Park, you had to figure they dropped some of that coin on drainage.
But then came this century's biggest tarp scandal -- that didn't involve Timothy Geithner, at least.
Under suddenly mostly sunny skies, the Cubs announced there would be no baseball. It truly was nice enough to play two, as Ernie Banks would say. Instead, the fans got nada -- and seemed to be in disbelief, as it took the better part of an hour for the last lingerers to leave.
The only other rainout was across town in Glendale, where the Indians and White Sox decided not to play.
Cubs Park, by the way, is the official name of the new facility. The team is looking for a naming rights sponsor. May we suggest Shop-Vac, perhaps?