Cleveland and Minnesota became the latest teams to say that they’ll extend the protective netting at their ballparks before next season, joining a slew of other clubs that made similar announcements after a young girl suffered bleeding on the brain from being struck by a ball at Yankee Stadium in September.
The Twins will raise the height of their existing netting by two feet and extend the nets behind home plate to the ends of the dugout seating section along both foul lines. Cleveland will similarly extend their nets to the ends of the dugouts.
This comes almost exactly two years after MLB first recommended that teams extend protective netting at least as far as the ends of the dugouts. But few teams were quick to adopt that suggestion, reasonable and necessary as it was—when the young girl was struck at Yankee Stadium this year, just 11 of 30 teams had netting that met such guidelines. (Some, like the Mets, had gone even further with nets that reach to the ends of the foul poles.) In the months following the Yankee Stadium injury, at least eight more clubs have begun working on installing extended netting for next season.
While the main objection to this basic safety measure remains the idea that it somehow ruins the fan experience—a pretty flimsy and cheap complaint when compared with the many fans’ lives being protected—both Cleveland and Minnesota emphasized in today’s announcements that the netting would use new design to be as unobtrusive as possible. The Twins specifically noted that the netting would be knotless and come in multiple shades of green so as to better blend in with the grass on the field.
The teams that have yet to make such changes will hopefully soon realize that this is an exceptionally stupid hill to die on, considering that someone could quite literally die.