I’m sitting down flipping through the sports channels and see that the Texas Rangers are playing the Detroit Tigers. I join the game in the bottom of the 8th inning and the first pitch I see is fouled off to the 3rd base side. Immediately you hear the ooh of the crowd, the kind when something is not good. The batter does not step back in the batters box, a look of concern on his face. The Tigers and Rangers are all looking in the direction of where the ball was fouled off, the same concerned look on their faces. The announcers bring up the fact that discussions have been made to extend the netting that is behind the home plate area. Immediately I agreed. Having been to both Wrigley Field and Kauffman Stadium this year and seeing how many foul balls there are, this issue of fan safety should not be an issue anymore. An estimated 53,000 foul balls are hit each season and 1,750 spectators are injured by these foul balls each season.-via foulballz.com and a Bloomberg article that you can check out here:
The netting only protects the fans that are seated behind home plate. The next time you are at a MLB game check out the fans located beside the on-deck circles. The netting is not extended to protect these fans. I’ve read articles claiming that the viewing experience of the fans will be altered if netting were to be extended to the edges of the dugouts. To this I would say: if you are that concerned about the viewing experience as opposed to your personal safety then buy different seats. Having this netting will protect the fans. Need I remind everyone that tonight is certainly not the first instance of this happening this season. A fan was struck at Fenway Park earlier this year and was immediately rushed to an hospital with life threatening injuries. What if something even worse happened? What if it were a child that was struck in the face with a baseball traveling at over 100 mph. Its quite simple, that child would most likely be killed. This happened at Dodger Stadium in 1970, a 14 year old child was killed by a foul ball. Even though that was 45 years ago now, seeing these two examples this season should give MLB enough of a reason to protect the fans that pay to come watch the games. Another added element to extra netting being added to cover the dugouts would be player and coach safety. Remember when Royals first base coach Tom Gamboa was brutally attacked by the father-son duo causing permanent hearing loss at Comiskey Park in Chicago? That was one of the most insane events I have witnessed watching sports and certainly has not left my mind. The answer is simple, extend the nets in order to provide more of a barrier or deterrent to fans entering the playing surface and keep the fans without malicious intent protected from foul balls screaming in their directions.