Monday, September 25, 2017

Netting at the ol' ball game? Why not!

Do you want to provoke a serious argument with a fan of professional baseball?
This netting the last time I went to a ballgame in Gary, Ind., didn't stop me from seeing on-field action. Photographs by Gregory Tejeda

If so, bring up whether Pete Rose belongs in the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. Or whether baseball ought to get realistic and adopt the designated hitter in both of the major leagues.

IF YOU HAVEN’T aggravated enough people with those lines of inquiry, then bring up the idea of whether baseball stadiums ought to extend the screens that now exist behind home plate to stretch all the way around the playing field.

Should fans have to have some sort of netting between them and the playing field to offer some sort of protection from balls hit into the stands? Is the act of watching a baseball game so potentially hazardous that teams ought to offer their fans some form of protection?

The issue, which has cropped up in baseball fan debate sporadically in recent years, was raised to a higher level last week when a fan at Yankee Stadium in New York got hit by a ball hit into the stands. The statistical desire to show how far and how hard all home runs were hit was used to show that this particular foul ball was traveling at 105 miles an hour at the time the fan was hit.
Does anybody pay attention to signs like this?

It’s no wonder she had to be taken to an area hospital for some medical treatment.

THIS ISN’T EVEN a lone incident. For it seems that on Friday, a fan attending a Chicago White Sox game at Guaranteed Rate Field got hit in the mouth by a foul ball hit by Brandon Moss of the Kansas City Royals.
Do ball clubs think this sign is adequate protection?

White Sox officials were quick to point out that the fan did not have to be taken to an area hospital. Although the Associated Press reported that the fan was seen publicly for some time holding a napkin to her face at the spot where she got hit by the ball.
Now a Royal, his foul hit fan in mouth

This particular fan was seated about 30 feet behind the first base dugout being used by the Kansas City Royals. Which is a prime seat, but also provides just enough distance that some people could be naively conned into thinking they are far enough from the playing field to avoid being hit.

Now as things are now at Guaranteed Rate Field, there is a netting that stretches a few dozen feet high right behind home plate. But once you move down the foul lines, you’re exposed. A lot of foul balls can come whizzing your way, if you’re not paying attention.

WHICH MAY BE the real problem. Too many people go to ballgames, but really don’t pay attention to what’s happening on the field. Meaning a line drive could turn foul and whiz right by their head – and they wouldn’t notice until it’s too late.
The first designated hitter

Now I know some baseball fans who insist the reason they don’t sit in seats right behind home plate (aside from the fact they’re cheap and don’t want to pay the prime prices for such tickets) is because they don’t like the obstruction of their view of the game that the netting supposedly causes.

I don’t buy it. That netting usually tends to fade out of one’s view quickly enough, and perhaps those fans down the foul lines need to be protected from their own vacuousness. Because the courts have previously ruled that line of small type ball clubs used to print on the back of tickets implying that people who attend games assume all risks of being injured doesn’t mean a thing.
Oh, Hell no!!!

I also know there are those who go to ballgames (usually on tickets provided by someone else, so they didn’t really pay the absurdly high prices of major league ball these days) who don’t pay attention. I’ve encountered too many of these knuckleheads who try to mock those people who DO pay attention to the playing field.

AS FOR THE idea of netting being unsightly, I recall when I attended ballgames at the old Vonachen Stadium in Peoria, Ill. Netting extended from one end of the grandstand to the other. All seats had
Maybe someday in Cooperstown?
something offering protection – although admittedly, the minor league grandstand only stretched from first base to third base and did not go all the way down to the foul lines.

This is something that ball clubs are going to have to take on just to avoid the perception that going to a ballgame is a hazard to one’s health. The reality is that modern-day stadiums with all their gadgets and attractions offer too many distractions. Perhaps netting from foul pole to foul pole is the price we pay.

Which I’m sure is a concept so radical for some people – perhaps even more upsetting to their concept of how things should be than my suggestions that it’s time the National League get off its high horse and realize the designated hitter has arrived and is part of the modern-day game.

And as for Pete Rose in the Baseball Hall of Fame? I’d sooner see Sammy Sosa there!!!


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