This week, the Cleveland Indians and Minnesota Twins announced that they will be extending their baseball stadiums’ protective netting before the 2018 season begins in order to ensure fan safety. The MLB first recommended teams extend their protective netting back in 2015, but initially, it looked like only a few teams were taking the suggestion seriously.That changed when a young girl was hit in the face by a foul ball at a Yankees game back in September. She suffered a brain bleed after her injury and teams quickly began to announce plans to add netting. At the start of the 2017 season, only 11 of the 30 MLB teams had extended their parks’ protective netting but now 24 teams will have extended their netting for the upcoming season.
The extent of the coverage at each stadium is not consistent. Several MLB teams, including the Yankees, have announced plans to increase their netting to the dugout while other teams, including the Mets, are going so far as to extend the protective netting all the way out to the foul pole. These decisions have a great deal to do with the structure of each stadium — there is little consistency in the sport.
This is fantastic progress for Major League Baseball but unfortunately, several teams have not announced any plans to make simple but necessary changes to ensure fan safety. The teams that have no apparent plans to extend netting are the Chicago White Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, Oakland A’s, Baltimore Orioles, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and Miami Marlins. It is possible that these teams will announce changes before opening day. It is likely they will do so if fans push for net extensions as a way to ensure both their safety and the safety of their children.