Major League Baseball came all too close to experiencing an unthinkable tragedy Wednesday night in Houston.
The Astros were hosting the Cubs, and outfielder Albert Almora lined a foul into the stands, striking a young girl unable to protect herself. The crowd immediately fell silent, and it was difficult not choke up watching Almora and his teammates fall to the ground with emotion in the middle of a live game.
The incident highlights a problem Major League Baseball has been dealing with gradually for years: protecting its fans from screaming line drives that leave the field of play several times every game.
Given the severity of what happened Wednesday (the girl was immediately taken to the hospital), it became the latest chance for fans online to debate extending the safety nets further down the lines at ballparks.
The conversation wasn’t limited to fans; many Cubs and Astros weighed in during postgame availability, and other players around the league, including the Nationals’ closer, joined them.
Baseball should absolutely extend the nets down the lines to protect fans. As new ballparks bring fans closer to the action, their safety should be a top priority. As players, we want fans to be able to safely & comfortably enjoy the game without fearing for their safety.— Obi-Sean Kenobi Doolittle (@whatwouldDOOdo) May 30, 2019
The only reason some fans have protested is the idea that nets will be obtrusive to their view. Doolittle points out that the top priority for everyone involved, players included, is safety.
As usual, the thoughtful reliever brings up another interesting point: distance.
As modern ballparks have taken over the sport, fans are sitting closer and closer to the action. It makes for a more engaging experience, but of course, puts fans closer to harm’s way.
With the exception of a vocal minority of fans online, just about everyone involved agrees the league needs to take more action. The more players as well-respected as Doolittle speak up, the better chance that has of happening.
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