The Chicago Cubs denied an assertion by the Chicago Sun-Times on Friday that the tarp debacle earlier in the week against the San Francisco Giants happened because the club short-staffs the grounds crew at Wrigley Field in order to avoid paying health insurance.
A surprising storm at Wrigley on Tuesday night caused a long delay because chief Roger Baird's working crew couldn't get the tarp — which had become saturated with water as it was unfurled — to cover the infield quickly enough. With field conditions unplayable even 4 1/2 hours after the rain stopped, umpires called the game in favor of the Cubs, who were leading in the bottom of the fifth inning. In a surprising but just turn of events, Major League Baseball upheld a protest by the Giants, and the teams resumed the suspended game Thursday. The Cubs won 2-1, but not before being thoroughly embarrassed.
Thoroughly, but not completely. That's if the Sun-Times report, which cites several unnamed sources within and outside the organization, is true:
Baird was dealt [a short hand] by policies driven from the top of the business and stadium side of the operation, leading to a national embarrassment – which might have been preventable, if not foreseeable.
Sources say 10 crew members were sent home early by the bosses Tuesday night with little, if any, input from the field-level supervisors.
[Cubs spokesperson] Julian Green doesn’t dispute that but says it’s common practice when the forecast calls for clear weather as he claimed Tuesday’s forecast did (contrary to several reports that day). But sources say this year’s protocol has changed dramatically since the off-season shakeup with game-day personnel in anticipation of the [Affordable Care Act] taking effect — along with the experience level in many areas because of resulting attrition.
“There have been organizational changes,” Green acknowledges. “Every organization, whether it’s baseball or corporate, is always continuing to evaluate inefficiencies, and obviously that translates to ours."
Hey, thanks for the good double-talk.
Double shame on the Cubs if this is true, for two reasons: One, it's more "Major League" the movie than major league. Ownership cutting corners on something as crucial to gameday operations as a grounds crew, in a city such as Chicago that experiences frequently inclement weather, is just asking for trouble. If a grounds crew person needs to work at least 130 hours a month to meet the requirements for health care, that's the cost of doing business. But the Cubs have gone on the cheap since being sold by Sam Zell, and it's not just in the free-agent market.
Not to forget, it's unethical, immoral and (should be) illegal to exploit your workers. Not only did the Ricketts family allegedly cut hours to one set of employees, but it required the leftover crew to do twice as much work. Were they paid for twice the work? At least they got some overtime. Possibly.
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