The Cubs grounds crew was short staffed because the Cubs were trying to avoid Obamacare

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This story keeps on giving.

Yesterday when the Cubs defended their grounds crew’s efforts during Tuesday night’s debacle against the Giants, the team noted that they had sent home many of the grounds crew workers earlier in the day. They made it sound as if it were standard operating procedure to do so. But the Chicago Sun-Times reports that there was a bit more to the team’s staffing decisions:

The staffing issues that hamstrung the grounds crew Tuesday during a mad dash with the tarp under a sudden rainstorm were created in part by a wide-ranging reorganization last winter of game-day personnel, job descriptions and work limits designed to keep the seasonal workers – including much of the grounds crew – under 130 hours per month, according to numerous sources with direct knowledge.

That’s the full-time worker definition under “Obamacare,” which requires employer-provided healthcare benefits for “big businesses” such as a major league team.

The Sun-Times article quotes anonymous officials from other teams which characterize the Cubs’ move in this regard as “cheap” and short-sighted.

Take this for what it’s worth, but the Cubs were deemed baseball’s most profitable team in 2013 and its owners are well-known partisan Republicans with a decidedly anti-Obama tilt. If there’s a team which is going to go out of its way to avoid having to pay Obamacare benefits, it’s not shocking that the Cubs are that team. Whether you think that’s a good thing or a bad thing likely depends on your political persuasion, of course.

Whether other teams have done this is unknown. Whether even twice as many grounds crew members could’ve fixed the problem in time on Tuesday is also unknown, as once a tarp is laden with water, it’s impossible for almost any number of people to move it. The head count — as opposed to the manner in which the tarp was rolled and unrolled — may have been irrelevant.

Of course, I am curious what those readers who have been on my case for pointing out that mistakes were made on Tuesday — readers who accused me of picking on poor blue collar workers in all of this — feel about a team cutting hours in order to not have to pay worker benefits.

Kyle Schwarber walks off to beat Rhys Hoskins 21-20 in second round of Home Run Derby

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In another thrilling round of the 2018 Home Run Derby, Kyle Schwarber walked off to defeat Rhys Hoskins and advance to the finals in the 2018 Home Run Derby. Hoskins hit 20 — surpassing his first-round total of 17 — but Schwarber was able to do him one better in regulation time.

For most of the round, Schwarber was “only” on pace to hit 17 or 18, but he got on a roll after using his time-out. He mashed about five home runs in the span of 30 seconds. With just a couple of seconds left on the clock, Schwarber hit his 21st home run to send Rhys to the showers. Of course, Schwarber had unlocked 30 seconds of bonus time since he hit two home runs that went at least 440 feet, so it was a formality. But to do it in regulation in buzzer-beater fashion was more fun than opening bonus time with the send-off.

Still an impressive showing by Hoskins. He became the first player to hit 20 home runs in the semifinals of the Derby, per ESPN Stats & Info. His 37 total homers are the second-most by a Phillies player in the Derby. Bobby Abreu hit 41 home runs en route to winning in 2005.

In the finals, Schwarber will face the winner of the Max MuncyBryce Harper showdown.