Big League Stew

Yankee Stadium tarp too heavy to pull after rain surprises grounds crew

It's every grounds crew's worst nightmare: A microburst hits unexpectedly, drenching the field and the tarp with so much moisture that it becomes too heavy to pull into place. Meanwhile, the infield saturates and completing the game becomes questionable. The crew of Yankee Stadium lived this in the fourth inning Monday night with the New York Yankees hosting the Kansas City Royals.

The sun reflected off windows in buildings beyond center field when rain and hail started to make fans run for cover in the bottom of the third, but the cloud soon was gone. An inning later, Royals right-hander Jeremy Guthrie had his start interrupted when the skies opened up again. Via the Associated Press:

After Guthrie got an out with his 37th pitch, crew chief Dana DeMuth called for the tarp. As ''Singin' in the Rain'' blared over the PA system, the grounds crew struggled to cover the increasingly muddy infield, getting stuck halfway then pulling the huge sheet off and starting again.

The Kansas City TV crew from Fox Sports took some delight in the big-city crew struggling, with analyst Rex Hudler cackling:

"Those guys need to start doing some pushups!"

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Who's winded? (MLB.tv)

Hudler even forced the audience to listen to a "What would George Steinbrenner do?" question, hypothesizing that heads would roll because of so-called grounds crew incompetence. Whatever, Rex!

Fox Sports' Ryan Lefebvre did, however, single out one guy who wasn't dressed in a T-shirt and cargo shorts like the rest of the crew — but instead a dress shirt and khaki pants — for helping the others move the tarp. Who are you, mystery tarp puller Samaritan?

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(MLB.tv)

Starting over was key for getting the tarp in place, because the rain was letting up. By reversing course and flipping the tarp, the crew was emptying water and lightening their load. There was no way they'd ever cover the entire infield without a do-over. Eventually, they managed to cover the infield. The game resumed after a 59-minute delay — without many apparent issues regarding the field — and the Royals went on to win 5-1.

The stuck tarp surely was a frustrating moment for the Yankee Stadium crew, which is known mostly for breaking into dance when the Village People's "YMCA" is played.

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