When a 2 year old was struck in the face with a foul ball last week, the discussion of fan safety heated up another notch. For millions of people, attending a baseball game live is an absolute thrill, but the ticket also carries with it some responsibility.
Where you sit in the stadium can matter a lot. Seats behind home plate provide netting for fans, so foul balls aren’t an issue. And out in the outfield, there’s plenty of time to see a ball flying toward you. It’s on the first and third base lines that require a ton of attention. A ball can come off a bat so fast there’s almost no time to respond. Back in May, a Chardon woman lost an eye sitting near the third base dugout of a Lake County Captains game.
When I’m at a game watching the fans nearest to the action, I cringe at a lot of pitches. Fans with young children who aren’t old enough to watch every pitch or react quickly enough, and people with their faces buried in their phones are at risk. We’re talking about one or two seconds and a life could be changed.
A simple net can change everything.
Some people don’t want the nets. They say it’s other people’s responsibility to seat their kids elsewhere, put down their phones and watch every pitch – and they may even be right.
In the end, though, the benefit of watching a game without a net just doesn’t outweigh the pain and suffering that results when things go wrong. The Reds, Padres, Mariners and Rockies have all agreed to extend their netting beyond the dugout. The Indians say they’ll look at the issue after the season is over.
Here’s hoping every baseball field looks at taking away a risk that just isn’t worth the reward.
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