Part of the ongoing changes to Wrigley Field may include expanded safety netting to protect fans from what seems to be a growing number of injuries from foul balls and Addison Russell’s bats. Okay, Russell hasn’t been singled out — that I’m aware of — but it sure did seem as though the rookie shortstop tossed more than his fair share of lumber into the stands.
According to Julian Green, Cubs VP of Communications, the team will work to meet new MLB standards expected to be in place for the coming season:
As the Commissioner stated last week, Major League Baseball is close to new recommendations for safety netting at its stadiums and ballparks for the 2016 season. In addition to a recommendation for the physical location of nets, there will be a broad fan education component to the program. Regarding our position, we take fan safety seriously and we will to work with MLB to ensure the environment to watch a game is safe and enjoyable for fans.
Broad fan education component? I assume this means a league-wide syndication of the ubiquitous (in the Wrigley concourse anyway) green “BE ALERT FOR FOUL BALLS!” placards. I think the world could use more cute cartoon bears warning baseball fans of imminent danger. Seriously, though, netting seems like a pretty easy way to prevent more serious incidents from taking place.
Yeah, I know, fans need to be wary of their surroundings and that there is a bit of inherent risk when you attend a ballgame. But save the “she should have been paying attention” spiel for someone else. Even the most astute onlooker could have their attention pulled from the game for a single pitch, the result of which might be a 110 mph liner that thinks said fan is sitting in its seat.
And save me the complaints about nets obscuring the view. If that was the case, those seats behind home plate wouldn’t be so coveted. My only lament over the extension of the nets is that it could rob us of moments like Foul Ball Dad and Anthony’s Rizzo’s incredible Spider-Man catch.
That said, I’ll gladly sacrifice me enjoyment of those novelties in order to have to watch or read about another fan being rushed to a hospital from an injury caused by an errant ball.