To Net or Not to Net?

 

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In the 6th inning of an Indians vs. Royals game just a few days ago, a 3-year-old boy was hurridly carried up the stairs, out of the stands, and eventually to a local hospital after being nailed by a line drive off the bat of the studly Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor.

Lindor’s comments after the game reflected some of the same thoughts that have been echoed by other players around the league after these incidents happen. “I know it’s all about the fans’ experience of interacting with players and I completely get that. You want to have that interaction with the fans, getting autographs and stuff, but at the end of the day, we want to make sure everybody comes out of this game healthy, and we got to do something about it.”

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Baseballs are flying off bats at a historic rate, as well as a historic speed. Giancarlo Stanton, of the Yankees, hit a ball in March 120 mph off of Andrew Cashner. This is about as fast as a Tornado, or even a Skydiver falling towards the earth (I know, weird stats but I was curious to see other things that move at 120 mph). I, as a 26-year-old man, would find it hard to react to a 120 mph small object flying towards me, how is a child supposed to? How can you catch a Tornado?

As more children (and adults) have been struck by liners, teams have countered with new measures to implement netting extending from the dugouts now down to the foul-poles. The White Sox were the first to do it, our local Nationals have now done it, and the expectation is likely every major league team will install this at some point.

The players want it, the teams now want it (though they have dragged their feet a bit), but what do the fans think? Strangely, there has been a backlash.

I’m paying $___ to sit in this section, why should I have to watch through a net?

Just pay attention to the game, stay off your cell phones.

Parents should keep track of their kids better, or don’t let kids sit there at all

Not that many people are being hit, it’s not that big of a deal

I have yet to hear a compelling argument against netting that changes my mind about the subject at all.

If you have been fortunate enough to sit in the section behind home plate you have experienced the net view forever. Is it odd at first? Sure. Do your eyes adjust and eventually, the net makes 0 difference? Absolutely.

As for the phones, sure, people love those tiny Tinder-swiping Instagram-scrolling email-checking mind portals. What is your expectation? We ban phone usage from the parks instead? Restrict it to in-between innings only? How would that be enforced? Should you be paying attention if it is a right-batter and you have seats down the 1st baseline? Of course. But are you going to be locked in on every single pitch of every single at-bat for 3+ hours?

Let’s be real.

Baseball games are FILLED with distractions. Vendors popping up and down every row, conversations flowing on all sides of you, scoreboards with statistics filling every inch, the phones aren’t the only problem here.

Also, is it the 3-year-olds checking Twitter when the ball comes zinging their way?

Chicago Cubs v Houston Astros

Is there a magic number of kids being struck by balls for anti-netters to say, “Okay, we get it, time to put them up”?

The magic number should be ZERO.

Why wait until a fire before installing a fire escape? It HAS happened, and SHOULDN’T happen. This is preventable.

Plus, do we not want children to help the game of baseball grow? If we ban kids from sitting in those sections, the attendance rates will surely drop more than a handful of grumbling anti-netters not showing up.

Look, I get some of the other sides of this. You work hard, you save your money, you spend a s***-ton on expensive seats to see your favorite MLB team play and now you have to deal with this inconvenience. We are too soft as a country they say, what’s next, netting around the entire stadium? 

At some point, you have to just accept these changes. NFL bone-breaking hits are getting penalized, concussion protocols are getting stricter, nets are going up, it’s almost as if we want people to be…healthy? Be…okay? What a wild concept.

Call it soft. Call it wussy. Call it whatever you want, this will SAVE lives. Am I exaggerating? A few years ago a woman at Dodger Stadium died after being struck by a foul ball. It was the first foul-ball fatality in 50 years. 2 deaths in 50 years, not a bad ratio right? Do we think it will be another 50 years until the next one? With the juiced balls, and the stronger batters, and the more distractions? Should we really test that theory?

Let’s get a pitching machine cranked up to 120 and see what YOU can do.

My guess is, you won’t stand a chance.

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