Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Debate over Expanded Netting

The New York Mets announced last week that they were going to be tripling the amount of protective netting around the field, quite possibly in an attempt to save the fans from the same injury fate their entire team seems to be having.  The Mets will more than exceed the Commissioner's updated netting guidelines.  They're certainly not the only team to have done this either - Pittsburgh, Washington, and Milwaukee are among other teams to go above and beyond what is required for netting.

There's been a lot of debate over the amount of netting and railings present at ballparks recently.  There's no denying that fan injuries, even fan deaths, at ballgames have been more prevalent in the news the last 5-10 years.  I think everybody remembers the fan fatality over a railing in Texas a few years ago, and there was also a fan who fell on his head at Wrigley Field this year and died a few days later.  While these incidents can't all be directly attributed to lack of safety features, it's enough that Major League Baseball should be taking notice.  The argument against expanding netting and railing is always "I can't see the game" or "people should be paying attention."  In my opinion one death or serious injury is one too many.  We can't obviously wrap the entire grandstand in a plastic bubble, but there are ways where a middle ground to be reached to protect the highest problem areas.  Anybody who has ever sat behind the dugout on the first level of any ballpark has undoubtedly seen a guy get smoked by a line drive foul ball.  The "exit velocity" stat metric that is all the rage now only brings more validity to this argument.  A projectile coming at you over 100mph, especially when you are not facing the action, is a pretty scary thought.  It is ridiculous to expect in today's low-attention span society, coupled with the nature of baseball as a sport with a lot of pauses, that one can stare at the field for all 9+ innings of a game.  There are plenty of players even on the field that do this professionally who are injured by batted or pitched balls.

There was a fan death in the NHL in 2002, and the league immediately responded by placing netting behind the goalie areas.  There were safety concerns from idiots jumping behind the goal posts in the 1970s to catch field goals, so the NFL added nets.  Baseball is a notoriously slow sport to enact any change, but it should not take this many injuries and God forbid any more deaths to come to a solution.  I think at a minimum extending the nets to the end of the dugouts is reasonable.  It was certainly an adjustment period in the NHL that fans still gripe about, but at the end of the day it does not affect attendance or fan enjoyment.  There is no evidence to suggest that less fans sit behind home plate at baseball games because of the netting.  The sooner that MLB fixes this problem, the sooner they can get back to other important things - like getting Montreal another team.

PS - Tour 2017 starts this weekend in Atlanta!  10th Anniversary of The Tour!

Brewers 38-35, +0.5 (3 @ Braves, 3 @ Reds)
Reds 30-40, -6.5 (3 @ Nationals, 1 @ Cardinals, 3 v. Brewers)

Twins 35-33, -1.5 (3 @ Indians, 4 @ Red Sox)

Erik - 4 (+15 worked)

Peter - 19

No comments: