Fan Safety

cadeni01

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I tend to be more of a reader than a poster, but I didn't see this being discussed anywhere (if it is, and I missed it, my apologies). A 4-year-old girl was hospitalized after being hit with a line drive. I know MLB has made moves to extend netting along the baselines, but I'm of the opinion that more needs to be done. Between pitchers routinely throwing in the high-90's, and hitters hitting the ball harder than ever, ~100 mph line drives into the stands aren't uncommon. Sure, fans have to pay attention, and I certainly wouldn't sit on the baselines with my 18-month-old. But at the same time, we can't reasonably expect even attentive fans to be able to field 100 mph line drives without getting hurt.

The NHL was able to pretty much eliminate fan injuries without significantly affecting the experience. I don't see why MLB can't.
 

OurF'ingCity

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I tend to be more of a reader than a poster, but I didn't see this being discussed anywhere (if it is, and I missed it, my apologies). A 4-year-old girl was hospitalized after being hit with a line drive. I know MLB has made moves to extend netting along the baselines, but I'm of the opinion that more needs to be done. Between pitchers routinely throwing in the high-90's, and hitters hitting the ball harder than ever, ~100 mph line drives into the stands aren't uncommon. Sure, fans have to pay attention, and I certainly wouldn't sit on the baselines with my 18-month-old. But at the same time, we can't reasonably expect even attentive fans to be able to field 100 mph line drives without getting hurt.

The NHL was able to pretty much eliminate fan injuries without significantly affecting the experience. I don't see why MLB can't.
This topic seems to come up at least once a year - see here, here, and especially here. Short answer - people have very strong opinions about expanding netting. And other than expanded netting, what are the other options?
 

crow216

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This topic seems to come up at least once a year - see here, here, and especially here. Short answer - people have very strong opinions about expanding netting. And other than expanded netting, what are the other options?
Has anyone ever considered adding more ballboys/girls? Their responsibility would be to 1) defend the crowd by playing crowd defense and 2) alert the crowd somehow (bell, whistle, yell...etc)

For example, ballperson sits on the step next to the seats of their assigned section, stays alert, and pops up as soon as there's a swing.
 

Buffalo Head

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As for a person playing literal defense for the crowd, that would be potentially great for the people sitting in the seats at the very end of each row, but that's it. How would that help the person six seats in? Four seats in? No person would have the reaction time/reach to cover anyone outside the person on the end of the row.

And do you put someone in the aisle of every row? Ten rows? What about foot traffic? How do you pay them? Do they stand in a fielding position on every pitch? Isn't that creating an even worse sightline problem for seated fans behind them than netting?

Having someone blow a whistle also isn't going to help. If you didn't see the ball hit, even a shrill whistle leaves you virtually no reaction time to a line drive and it doesn't help you determine its trajectory if you didn't see it hit. You'd be a dead duck either way.

I think you answered your own question about why it hasn't been considered.
 
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doc

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Has anyone ever considered adding more ballboys/girls? Their responsibility would be to 1) defend the crowd by playing crowd defense and 2) alert the crowd somehow (bell, whistle, yell...etc)

For example, ballperson sits on the step next to the seats of their assigned section, stays alert, and pops up as soon as there's a swing.

We could have this guy do it, give him a shield and he can yell Dilly Dilly when the wave comes around to his section. Bud Light would probably pay more than enough to offset the loss of seats

 

Hank Scorpio

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Have a sniper shoot down balls headed towards the crowd.

Actually, I bet within 50 years, baseball will be a semi-simulation where batted balls almost immediately disintegrate upon contact, and the result is determined by launch angle, exit velocity, and catch probability. Maybe a RNG determines errors or some shit.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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Has anyone ever considered adding more ballboys/girls? Their responsibility would be to 1) defend the crowd by playing crowd defense and 2) alert the crowd somehow (bell, whistle, yell...etc)

For example, ballperson sits on the step next to the seats of their assigned section, stays alert, and pops up as soon as there's a swing.
The issue is reaction time as much as anything else. If someone isn't reacting to a line drive hit toward them until someone else yells or whistles or rings a bell, it's too late.
 

The Allented Mr Ripley

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Has anyone ever considered adding more ballboys/girls? Their responsibility would be to 1) defend the crowd by playing crowd defense and 2) alert the crowd somehow (bell, whistle, yell...etc)

For example, ballperson sits on the step next to the seats of their assigned section, stays alert, and pops up as soon as there's a swing.
How about a megatarp?
 

crow216

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As for a person playing literal defense for the crowd, that would be potentially great for the people sitting in the seats at the very end of each row, but that's it. How would that help the person six seats in? Four seats in? No person would have the reaction time/reach to cover anyone outside the person on the end of the row.

And do you put someone in the aisle of every row? Ten rows? What about foot traffic? How do you pay them? Do they stand in a fielding position on every pitch? Isn't that creating an even worse sightline problem for seated fans behind them than netting?

Having someone blow a whistle also isn't going to help. If you didn't see the ball hit, even a shrill whistle leaves you virtually no reaction time to a line drive and it doesn't help you determine its trajectory if you didn't see it hit. You'd be a dead duck either way.

I think you answered your own question about why it hasn't been considered.
Just to play this out for fun (overall, I agree with you), I think you're overestimating the number of sections at risk. For each section, there is most likely a very common entry point of where its most likely for a foul ball to arrive from. If you position a ball boy in one of those 3-4 sections per park at the right spot that would allow them to create a sort of cone of defense, would that not at least help?

Let's use section 27A as an example below. It seems like one person sitting on the step right in the front corner should be able to defend a pretty good portion of that section.
 

Soxy Brown

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This has got to be one of the most easily solvable problems in the history of humankind. Put up a damn net where there is potential danger from foul balls. Problem solved. People will complain but they will get used to it.

Article is behind a paywall on The Athletic but I agree 100% with the words of Ken Rosenthal:

So, what will it take for something to change? Two tragedies? Three? 10? 20?

How is it possible we are even asking this question?

This is not your typical baseball debate, a discussion over a player’s worthiness for the Hall of Fame, the value of advanced metrics, the merits of the DH in both leagues. No, this is literally a life-and-death issue, one in which every counter-argument is nullified and every excuse rings hollow.
 

Lose Remerswaal

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Just to play this out for fun (overall, I agree with you), I think you're overestimating the number of sections at risk. For each section, there is most likely a very common entry point of where its most likely for a foul ball to arrive from. If you position a ball boy in one of those 3-4 sections per park at the right spot that would allow them to create a sort of cone of defense, would that not at least help?

Let's use section 27A as an example below. It seems like one person sitting on the step right in the front corner should be able to defend a pretty good portion of that section.
how many rows do you think he will be able to protect? Remember: the rows are each 9 inches or so above the one in front of it.
 

santadevil

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how many rows do you think he will be able to protect? Remember: the rows are each 9 inches or so above the one in front of it.
And not only that, but what happens if the guy misplays it?
Not as easy as you think to catch a 95mph tailing liner. This safety guy gets sued immediately, along with the team.

Extended netting is really the only acceptable answer
 

crow216

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And not only that, but what happens if the guy misplays it?
Not as easy as you think to catch a 95mph tailing liner. This safety guy gets sued immediately, along with the team.

Extended netting is really the only acceptable answer
The guy doesn't need to make a throw to first. His goal is to deflect the ball. Again, I'm not saying it solves the problem but can't it help?
 

santadevil

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The guy doesn't need to make a throw to first. His goal is to deflect the ball. Again, I'm not saying it solves the problem but can't it help?
Never mentioned that, but whatever.

Sure, there are lots of things that can help, but the less than incremental help you are proposing doesn't do much in the grand scheme.
But pat on the head for trying I guess?
 

Plantiers Wart

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Just put the damn nets up. Sitting behind the plate is awesome, and the net takes nothing away from the experience. Put it down the lines. People will get accustomed to it, and if only we’d had it back in 03, it might have saved Steve Bartman’s life
 

sittingstill

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Yeah, but even they have extended netting in all their baseball stadiums. And actually the KBO netting, by virtue of being so high, seems pretty unobtrusive--the support cables are well out of the way, and it's usually the cables that I find distracting at Fenway.

It's hard to be a minor league photographer without spending a lot of time in the line of fire. I've got a lovely scar on my right shin. I've seen first and third base coaches get hit. We were all paying attention. It's not that easy to get out of the way. Balls don't always come straight at you--they curve, and there's not a lot of time to calculate the trajectory. I'm all for netting.
 

kenneycb

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Agreed. Put the nets up. This is like NHL without helmets except it’s Joe Burger King.
No it’s literally the NHL without nets behind the goals. Took a girl dying in Columbus to change it and the viewing experience is still great. May not be as great for the people up close but lol boo hoo you’re still alive / not injured.
 

Plantiers Wart

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Former Sox reliever Brad Ziegler was obviously not trying to submarine fencing was in the radio the next day. He stressed that since MLB was actively trying to get fans to use the MLB app at the ballparks they cannot then rely on fans paying attention to protect themselves. They want distracted fans, it’s their duty to protect them.

Also, a woman was killed at Dodger Stadium last year.

https://abc7news.com/dodgers-fan-killed-after-being-struck-by-foul-ball-in-2018/5121262/
 

RetractableRoof

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If I'm not mistaken the ballparks in Japan have netting all around. After a bit of acclimation, it would be accepted here in short order.
 

cadeni01

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All-around netting probably isn't necessary. But the data are already out there. I don't see any reason an analysis can't be done to determine which seats get the hardest-hit line drives and/or have the least time to react, and extend the netting.

I've never heard a single person complain about the netting at hockey games.
 

YTF

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Has anyone ever considered adding more ballboys/girls? Their responsibility would be to 1) defend the crowd by playing crowd defense and 2) alert the crowd somehow (bell, whistle, yell...etc)

For example, ballperson sits on the step next to the seats of their assigned section, stays alert, and pops up as soon as there's a swing.
 

sittingstill

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I just liked the graphic. But feel free to extrapolate whatever positions you like from my posting it. Oh, wait, you already did.
The only thing I assumed is that you were referring to the Korean superstition of fan death, which I used as an opportunity to note that even people who believe in fan death think netting is a good idea. I have zero idea what you think about netting. Or death by electric fan.
 

cadeni01

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I'm pretty saddened that the death of an elderly fan wasn't enough to prevent people bitching about their precious line of site.

A 4-year-old nearly died this time. Can we all agree it's time to make ballparks safer?
 

lexrageorge

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The idea that fans are going to pay attention 100% of the time during a 3+ hour baseball game is not realistic. People get up, turn around to talk to someone in the row behind them, pass hot dogs, look at the scoreboards, watch the fielders or the dugout, etc. And then there is the matter of reaction time; it's not equal for everyone, and young kids and older fans may simply get frozen long enough to be unable to move out of the way in time from a batted ball.

I was at a minor league baseball game, and after the batter swung the bat left his hands and headed into the stands. People tried getting out of the way but it was crowded and a bat is a large object. One fan got hit and had to be taken out via ambulance.

I say, let people bitch and moan about netting. It's not your grandfather's baseball game with exit velocities exceeding 100mph.
 

YTF

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The idea that fans are going to pay attention 100% of the time during a 3+ hour baseball game is not realistic. People get up, turn around to talk to someone in the row behind them, pass hot dogs, look at the scoreboards, watch the fielders or the dugout, etc. And then there is the matter of reaction time; it's not equal for everyone, and young kids and older fans may simply get frozen long enough to be unable to move out of the way in time from a batted ball.

I was at a minor league baseball game, and after the batter swung the bat left his hands and headed into the stands. People tried getting out of the way but it was crowded and a bat is a large object. One fan got hit and had to be taken out via ambulance.

I say, let people bitch and moan about netting. It's not your grandfather's baseball game with exit velocities exceeding 100mph.
This is a point that is often not even part of the "they should be paying attention" argument. The person or people in the direct line of fire may have been able to avoid injury and their moving may cause another to get hit with a bat or ball. Or someone attempting to react may well be limited as to how they move or where they can go due to the situation around them. Sure generally speaking folks should be more vigilant, but these objects move with such speed that vigilance isn't the only issue in play here.
 

Rovin Romine

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The only thing I assumed is that you were referring to the Korean superstition of fan death, which I used as an opportunity to note that even people who believe in fan death think netting is a good idea. I have zero idea what you think about netting. Or death by electric fan.
Ah. Hence the “they” in your post. My apologies.
 

santadevil

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I hadn't seen any update on the girl, so I went looking.
This was the most recent thing I could find, from June 7


"We appreciate the outreach and concern that the Astros organization, the fans, and media have expressed for our daughter," the statement reads. "We respectfully ask that everyone continue to honor our request for privacy."

The Cubs' Albert Almora, Jr., lined a foul ball into the stands during that May 29 game. Almora dropped to his knees as the ball appeared to hit a child. Fans looked on, horrified, as an adult grabbed the child and raced up the stadium steps.

Following the game, Almora said he was aware he struck a fan as soon as he hit the ball.

"Yep," Almora told reporters. "That's probably what sucked the most. Just the way life is. As soon as I hit it the first person I locked eyes on was her. So that's ... yeah.

"God willing, I'll be able to have a relationship with this little girl for the rest of my life, but just prayers right now."

The incident sparked conversation about netting and safety at ballparks. The Astros have netting that extends to the end of the dugouts, but Almora's foul ball went just wide of that barrier.
I'm worried about the lack of any updates to this
 

Savin Hillbilly

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Everyone's going to hate my solution. :fonz: But it would solve this problem and the problem of crippling/career-threatening injuries to players as well.

Make the damn ball softer. Tennis-ball soft, if necessary. There is nothing about the game in its essence that depends on the ball being as hard as it is. It's just our testosterone addiction at work.

Yes, a softer ball would change the hitter/pitcher dynamic pretty dramatically in the hitter's favor. So make the strike zone bigger. Or bring the pitcher's mound closer. Whatever.

Make the damn ball softer. Every other proposed solution is just working around the problem.
 

dhappy42

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Everyone's going to hate my solution. :fonz: But it would solve this problem and the problem of crippling/career-threatening injuries to players as well.

Make the damn ball softer. Tennis-ball soft, if necessary. There is nothing about the game in its essence that depends on the ball being as hard as it is. It's just our testosterone addiction at work.

Yes, a softer ball would change the hitter/pitcher dynamic pretty dramatically in the hitter's favor. So make the strike zone bigger. Or bring the pitcher's mound closer. Whatever.

Make the damn ball softer. Every other proposed solution is just working around the problem.
Why would a softer ball help hitters?

You’d have to make the ball 6U mushy soft for it to make much difference with regard to fan injuries. It’d completely change, i.e. ruin, the game.
 

Savin Hillbilly

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Why would a softer ball help hitters?
Not having to worry about possibly disabling injury on inside pitches would allow them to change their approach in a helpful way, I suspect.

You’d have to make the ball 6U mushy soft for it to make much difference with regard to fan injuries.
I'm not asking for a ball that doesn't hurt when it hits you. I'm asking for a ball that doesn't break bones when it hits you.

It’d completely change, i.e. ruin, the game.
How and why would it ruin the game?
 

djbayko

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Not having to worry about possibly disabling injury on inside pitches would allow them to change their approach in a helpful way, I suspect.


I'm not asking for a ball that doesn't hurt when it hits you. I'm asking for a ball that doesn't break bones when it hits you.


How and why would it ruin the game?
This would be far outweighed by the fact that the balls wouldn't go very far, so defenses could shorten their range and automatic runs via home run would not be much of a thing.

I think you're drastically underestimating how soft the balls would have to be in order to prevent serious injury.
 

drleather2001

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Not having to worry about possibly disabling injury on inside pitches would allow them to change their approach in a helpful way, I suspect.


I'm not asking for a ball that doesn't hurt when it hits you. I'm asking for a ball that doesn't break bones when it hits you.


How and why would it ruin the game?
The 6U/8U balls are exactly what you’re talking about. They have some heft, are soft enough to not smash an eye socket, but would still absolutely break your nose and concuss you if you took one off the face from an adult who knew how to hit well.

And they travel about 75% as far as hardballs both in the air and on the ground.

So they would solve some, not all, of the fan injury issue while also completely changing the complexion of the game.
 

Savin Hillbilly

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This would be far outweighed by the fact that the balls wouldn't go very far, so defenses could shorten their range and automatic runs via home run would not be much of a thing.

I think you're drastically underestimating how soft the balls would have to be in order to prevent serious injury.
The 6U/8U balls are exactly what you’re talking about. They have some heft, are soft enough to not smash an eye socket, but would still absolutely break your nose and concuss you if you took one off the face from an adult who knew how to hit well.

And they travel about 75% as far as hardballs both in the air and on the ground.

So they would solve some, not all, of the fan injury issue while also completely changing the complexion of the game.
So change the dimensions. Or add more outs. Whatever. What I'm saying is, if the game as we know it depends on being played with equipment that can cause disfiguring or life-threatening injuries under relatively uncommon but by no means extraordinary circumstances, and our response to that isn't "OK, then the game as we know it needs to change," then isn't it possible that our priorities may just be a tad bit confused?
 

djbayko

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So change the dimensions. Or add more outs. Whatever. What I'm saying is, if the game as we know it depends on being played with equipment that can cause disfiguring or life-threatening injuries under relatively uncommon but by no means extraordinary circumstances, and our response to that isn't "OK, then the game as we know it needs to change," then isn't it possible that our priorities may just be a tad bit confused?
Wouldn't adding netting be a lot easier (and far preferable to the average fan) than completely changing the game? If the game were facing an existential crisis and changing the rules / specifications was the only option - such as the NFL is nearly facing - that would be one thing. But there's a really simple solution available.
 

Savin Hillbilly

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Wouldn't adding netting be a lot easier (and far preferable to the average fan) than completely changing the game? If the game were facing an existential crisis and changing the rules / specifications was the only option - such as the NFL is nearly facing - that would be one thing. But there's a really simple solution available.
Fair point, although netting wouldn't have helped Bryce Florie, for instance.