By now you probably saw what happened last night in Houston, a young girl struck by a foul ball and taken to the hospital. Cubs outfielder Albert Almora Jr. was so distraught by the incident that he broke down and was consoled by manager Joe Maddon and his teammates.
The good news is that the girl appears to be okay:
Some good news on the child struck by the baseball at Minute Maid Park. @blummer27 just reported on AT&T SportsNet, "The family took the young child back to the emergency room just to get checked on, but all signs are pointing to that child will be okay."#khou #HTownRush #Astros
— The Bishop (@BillBishopKHOU) May 30, 2019
The bad news is that we’ve got another injury at a baseball game, another injury that was preventable.
That’s probably the sticking point here, the idea that none of these accidents have to happen. Line drive foul balls down the first and third base lines don’t have to enter the crowd. Broken bats don’t need to go flying into the stands in sharpened projectile fashion.
For what it’s worth, Major League Baseball teams were recommended at the beginning of 2018 to expand their netting to the far ends of each dugout, which all 30 did.
That was a result of injuries that took place in years prior, as ESPN’s Jesse Rogers points out, after the jump:
At Yankee Stadium in May 2017, a boy was struck in the head by a portion of Chris Carter’s broken bat. A fan sitting beyond the first-base dugout was hit by a 105 mph foul ball off the bat of Aaron Judge in July of that year. And in September, a young girl was injured by another 105 mph foul ball off the bat of Todd Frazier and was hospitalized. Linda Goldbloom, sitting in a loge area at Dodger Stadium, was hit in the head by a foul ball during the ninth inning of a game on Aug. 25, 2018. Four days later, she died.
Pretty ridiculous, is it not?
Kris Bryant pointed out what I think is obvious, saying the following to ESPN’s Jeff Passan:
“There’s a lot of kids coming to the games — young kids who want to watch us play, and the balls come in hard. I mean, the speed of the game is quick, and I think any safety measure we can take to, you know, make sure that the fans are safe, we should do it.”
If we’re looking at realistic, common sense scenarios, we extend the netting from foul pole to foul pole. Is it clunky and annoying? Yeah, it is. Does Zack Hample catch fewer foul balls? You bet. Maybe some folks would feel like their view is obstructed if they’re looking down through the netting from a larger portion of the stadium, instead of strictly from the premium seats behind home plate and down the 1st and 3rd base lines.
But I honestly think you’re at risk to get drilled by a ball whether you’re paying attention or not, whether you’re 5 years old or 25 years old. With the way dudes are hitting the ball these days, you could be totally dialed in and focused and still get cranked by a foul ball before getting a chance to react. Your view could be blocked by another fan. The ball could take a deflection off a seat or concrete walkway. There are a lot of different scenarios in play here.
I saw a lot of baseball purist takes on social media last night and this morning, folks suggesting a solution of moving kids to different areas of the ballpark, which makes sense, but I’m not sure how realistic that is. Like I said, kids aren’t the only ones being hit. You’ve got people of all ages getting plunked, and not all of them are distracted, looking at their phone, talking to a friend, or chowing down on crab fries.
If we’re trying to prevent bad situations such as…. you know… a little girl getting hit in the head by a 100 MPH line drive, then I think we all know what the most common sense solution is. If we’re not putting fan safety first at sporting events, then what does that really say about us as human beings?
Just look at the reactions here: