The San Francisco Giants already possess a notable home-field advantage because of the unique layout at AT&T Park. For Game 3 of the World Series, it appeared the grounds crew was looking to give them an even greater advantage by watering down the infield to an almost excessive level in an attempt to slow down the Kansas City Royals' enormous speed advantage on the bases.
In the end, it would become more of an afterthought than an advantage after the Royals won the game 3-2 and grabbed a 2-1 series lead, but the overly saturated infield dirt was easily noticed and its effects were often discussed during the early innings.
Giants grounds crew spent entire October water allotment on the infield; I just saw a sea lion surface to Panik’s right
— Ray Ratto (@RattoCSN) October 25, 2014
Pretty cool that McCovey Cove was relocated in about 400 feet for this game
— Bryan Kilpatrick ⚾ (@purplerowBK) October 25, 2014
Giants grounds crew trying to turn the dirt into mud to slow the Royals. Cain and Dyson still flying home to first in under 4.0 seconds.
— Ben Badler (@BenBadler) October 25, 2014
The grounds crew here cleaning up the over-watered infield between innings. Sloppy track surely aimed at KC base-stealers.
— Pete Abraham (@PeteAbe) October 25, 2014
The gamesmanship involved is clear, but this is far from an original tactic. In one instance back in 2011, New York Mets manager Terry Collins accused the Atlanta Braves of watering down the infield to slow down Jose Reyes. After Reyes slipped three times on the bases, Collins filed a complaint with the league because he considered the conditions a safety issue, in addition to an advantage for the Braves.
The league didn't act then, and there's nothing in the rules now that prohibits San Francisco from creating such an advantage. It's akin to teams growing or cutting the infield grass to capitalize on a team strength or an opponent's weakness. It's a tactical move, and as long as it doesn't create an obvious hazard for the players, it's all fair.
Though the Royals didn't attempt a stolen base for the second game in the series, the muddy track proved to be no advantage to San Francisco. Alcides Escobar scored easily from first base on Alex Gordon's sixth-inning double in their biggest test on the bases. That would prove to be a key moment in Kansas City's one-run victory.
In another key moment, San Francisco's Hunter Pence was cut down stealing in the second inning. So maybe it even backfired to some extent.
Regardless of the infield conditions, there was nothing San Francisco could do to offset Lorenzo Cain's continued stellar play in the outfield, or Kansas City's dominant bullpen once the late innings rolled around. Though Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post does have one suggestion for the former.
The Giants' grounds crew should consider covering the outfield grass with rubber cement.
— Adam Kilgore (@AdamKilgoreWP) October 25, 2014
Anything to eliminate those fantastic jumps Cain gets on seemingly every fly ball.
Also, for whatever it's worth, the tarp is now covering the infield with rain in the forecast for early Saturday. They want it muddy, sure, but apparently they don't want Saturday off.
— Steve Kroner (@SteveKronerSF) October 25, 2014
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