After a foul ball struck a young girl during a New York Yankees game and sent her to the hospital, four MLB teams have committed to extending the netting along the baselines to protect fans.
According to the Washington Post’s Des Bieler, the Cincinnati Reds, San Diego Padres, Seattle Mariners, and Colorado Rockies have all agreed to extend their netting beyond the dugouts. 10 others teams have already done so.
According to Bieler, most teams have protective netting from home plate to the dugouts, but MLB does not mandate teams to do so.
However, in the wake of the incident at Yankees Stadium, the pressure is on other teams to also follow suit. While others have said they’ll look into the matter, according to Yahoo’s Jeff Passan, the MLB Players Association has urged teams to extend the netting.
Yankees third baseman Todd Frazier, who hit the foul ball at Yankees Stadium, said: “I think the netting should be up. I think every stadium should have it.”
Minnesota Twins third baseman Eduardo Escobar, who witnessed the child get struck, was shaken after the game, saying: “I just saw blood coming out of this poor girl’s face … A ball like that can kill a kid … It could’ve killed her.”
Manfred said after the September 20 incident in New York that MLB will “redouble our efforts” to extend netting.
In July, MLB commission Rob Manfred told New York Daily News’ Christian Red that there is a hurdle to mandating a specific stadium design to 30 ballparks that are designed differently.
“We continually are talking to the individual clubs about what they should be doing in each of their stadiums. I think the reluctance to do it on a league-wide basis only relates to the difficulty of having a single rule that fits 30 stadiums that obviously are not designed the same way.”
Some, like Passan, are not buying it. Passan wrote after the incident in New York:
“There’s a sense that it’s going to take something worse than what happened Wednesday to force change – the death of a child. Only that happened already. In 1970, a 14-year-old boy named Alan Fish went to a Dodgers game and was hit in the head by a line drive into the stands. He died four days later.”
“Baseball and the teams that continue this foolish conceit are negligent, are culpable, are to blame. Fans deserve for this shame to be a thing of the past, to walk into stadiums with netting past the dugout and well up the line, to know that in addition to being fun, their baseball experience should be as safe as reasonably possible, too.”
According to USA Today’s Bib Nightengale, some teams have said that season-ticket holders were against extended netting for fear of obstructed views. Yankees COO Lonn Trost told the New York Times’ Juliet Macur that fans were “upset” when the Yankees asked their opinions on extending netting.
Now, however, after the injury to the young girl, it seems fans will have to swallow the minor inconvenience of netting. Likewise, pressure will likely continue to mount on teams that haven’t extended the netting to ensure the safety of all fans.