It's about damn time Major League Baseball protects its fans from foul balls

Sep 23 2017, 1:29 am

It shouldn’t have come to this.

A young girl was hit in the face by a line drive at Yankee Stadium in New York on Wednesday. She was bloodied and taken to hospital. It was a scary incident, as the ball was travelling 105 miles per hour.

She could have died.

Luckily, she’s going to be ok, but the incident shook the baseball world.

It has people talking about increasing the amount of protective netting in Major League Baseball ballparks. And it’s about damn time.

You don’t need to be a physicist to understand that baseballs travelling at over 100 miles per hour heading towards a crowd of people is extremely dangerous. When a ball is travelling that fast, there’s no time to react. To stand by and do nothing about it is completely irresponsible on the part of the league.

“The events at [Wednesday’s] game involving a young girl were extremely upsetting for everyone in our game,” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday. “Over the past few seasons, MLB has worked with our clubs to expand the amount of netting in our ballparks.”

Sure, MLB has had discussions about making improvements, even encouraging teams to add netting. But it’s long overdue to be proactive, rather than reactive, and mandate a better league-wide standard.

In the NHL, it took a 13-year-old girl dying at a Blue Jackets game in Columbus in 2002 before sweeping changes were made. The next season, netting was added behind every goal in every NHL arena.

The little girl in New York didn’t die, and MLB should consider itself lucky. That was the warning, and there’s no excuse not to make improvements to fan safety at this point.

Some teams have been proactive, such as the Washington Nationals, who extended the netting at their ballpark to the ends of each dugout.


Image: Washington Nationals

Sure, this may take a little bit of the magic out of going to the ballpark for some fans. But people will get over it, just like they did in hockey.

“Every stadium needs to have nets,” Minnesota Twins second baseman Brian Dozier said, hitting the nail on the head. “That’s it. I don’t care about the damn view of the fan. It’s all about safety. I still have a knot in my stomach. I hope that kid’s OK. We need nets. Or don’t put kids down there.”

The Toronto Blue Jays are one of the teams with minimal net protection, but are reportedly considering increasing the size of the net.

Better late than never.

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