The Nationals return to the nation’s capital Monday night for their first homestand of the season’s second half. When they do, players and fans may notice a slight change at Nationals Park: extended netting.
The issue of extending protective netting down the lines of baseball stadiums has grown more and more prominent in recent years, especially with the rash of avoidable injuries fans are incurring on foul balls.
As hitters have grown stronger and exit velocities have skyrocketed, it’s become harder for fans in certain sections to protect themselves or their children from these dangerous shots into the crowd.
More and more teams have announced plans to extend the netting at their stadiums all the way down the lines, though it’s come with a little (misguided) controversy.
Monday night marks the debut of the Nationals’ extended netting.
“Throughout Major League Baseball there have been some tragic incidents this year,” Nationals VP of Public Safety and Security Scott Fear explained in a statement priovided by the team. “So we at the Washington Nationals decided to extend the netting to make sure our fans are safe.”
“And that’s what this is all about,” Fear continued. “We want to protect our fans, the children, the adults, everyone that comes to the game, to make sure they have a great time without worrying about being hurt.”
Perhaps in anticipation of some pushback from fans concerned about a diminished view, the Nats were quick to describe the new netting as being nearly see-through.
Plus, with the changes, the Nationals installed retractable netting, allowing it to come down prior to gametime. This will afford fans even more opportunities to interact with players and ask for pregame autographs and pictures.
“This is something we feel is going to be very positive, and our fans will feel safe being here watching the game,” Fear concluded.
Ultimately, safety should be the number one priority of any major franchise, the Nationals included. They are one of the first teams to embrace this change in the name of safety, and they certainly won’t be the last.
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Trent Williams will not report to training camp this week when the Redskins head to Richmond to officially begin their 2019 season, according to NFL Network.
#Redskins LT Trent Williams is not expected to report to training camp with the rest of his teammates this week, sources tell me and @RapSheet. He didn't show for minicamp in June and it could be quite a while before he's back with the team.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) July 22, 2019
The news comes as no surprise, as Williams missed all of the Redskins voluntary offseason workouts and skipped the team's mandatory minicamp in June. Reports streamed out that Williams was upset about his contract and looking for a new deal -- not to mention reports that he was angry with the team's medical staff after a missed diagnosis with a growth on his scalp.
Williams has made no official statements, and the Redskins organization offered very little in terms of a timeline for his return. Washington team president Bruce Allen said he knows "the truth" about Williams' situation, and head coach Jay Gruden said he hoped things would be resolved before Week 1 in Philadelphia.
A seven-time Pro Bowler, Williams is arguably the best left tackle in the NFL. He's an immensely talented offensive lineman with two years remaining on his deal. Beyond the medical situation, Williams could be upset that in 2020, the final year of his deal, there is hardly any guaranteed cash. The team could release Williams with less than $2 million in salary cap penalty and save nearly $13 million against the cap.
Without Williams, the Redskins could be in real trouble. Second-year pro Geron Christian did not seem capable of playing at a starting tackle level last fall, and that was before a knee injury landed him on IR. Morgan Moses should be locked in as the right tackle, but opposite him in Williams' spot will be dicey.
Multiple sources with the Redskins and around the NFL suggested more cash could change Williams' mind before Week 1, and for now, it looks like the 31-year-old will be waiting for that increased payday. If Williams missed actual games, he would begin to lose money from this year's $14 million salary.
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