The pressure is on Major League Baseball teams to add more protective netting to their stadiums after the scary scene Wednesday at Yankee Stadium where a young girl was hit by a foul line drive and apparently knocked out. Players fell silent and reported seeing blood. Some even cried on the field.
The little girl was OK, according to an update that came Wednesday night after she’d been to the hospital, but it still added a new layer to a debate that’s been going for a few years: Do MLB stadiums need more netting to protect fans? Should it be required?
Our own Jeff Passan offered an impassioned argument that MLB does need more netting, calling out the teams that don’t have enough. Some 20 teams don’t have extended netting. Now that number is rapidly shrinking. The Cincinnati Reds were the first team since Wednesday’s ugly scene to announce that they’ll add more.
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) September 21, 2017
Not more than a few hours later, the Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres announced plans to add more netting for the 2018 season.
What makes this a tough issue is MLB’s loose stance on protective netting. When the league offered its 2015 recommendation, it was just that — a recommendation. There is no requirement, no rule, no law from MLB. Each team can do as it sees fit.
Commissioner Rob Manfred said earlier this year that it’s tough to make a rule for all 30 stadiums when they’re all built differently. After Wednesday’s incident, he released a statement to Ken Rosenthal. It didn’t hint at a league-wide mandate, only that MLB would continue to work with clubs to add more netting:
“The events at yesterday’s game involving a young girl were extremely upsetting for everyone in our game. Over the past few seasons MLB has worked with our clubs to expand the amount of netting in our ballparks. In light of yesterday’s event, we will redouble our efforts on this important issue.”
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