Danger at the Ballpark: How Extended Nets are Dismantling Major League Baseball One Foul Ball at a Time While Endangering Fans

For those of you who’ve somehow stumbled upon this site, a brief catch-up for you: This site deals with fan safety issues, foul balls, and basically ridiculing Manfred. And I count reports of foul ball injuries, net fails and all that via Twitter reports. That is, I keep a running tally of various stats for the season based on what’s reported by Major League Baseball fans on Twitter. I count foul ball hits to the face that were unavoidable, those where the fan was on the phone or otherwise distracted themselves, ricochets off nets, net fails, and so on. And the news isn’t good. The nets have made the ballpark a much more dangerous place, contributed to attendance numbers last seen 15 years ago, and it’s all because of Manfred, the man slowly dismantling the National Pastime.

There’s a major concern this season, one nobody else appears to be addressing: The danger extended nets are to fans.

This season has ALREADY blown past last season in terms of the number of fans self-reporting or noting that someone else was hit.

Under normal conditions, this jump is alarming. Nobody WANTS to see more people injured. But they are. What makes this trend even more alarming is that there are significantly fewer fans attending games. MORE foul ball injuries and lower MLB attendance. That makes no sense when there’s so much added netting. But it’s true.

How has 2017 compare to 2018 so far?

First, 2017 average game attendance was 29,909. That was down nearly 200 fans on average from 2016.

There were injuries reported on Twitter ALONE break down like this:

18 just hit (13.4)

61 Using phone (44.9)

17 due to PARENTAL NEGLIGENCE! (12.5)

8 DRUNK

32 going for ball (23.5)

32 net fails

Total Hits: 136

That makes the percentage of fans smoked by or otherwise injured as a result of a foul ball at each game:  .005%. When we consider the 18 hit outright by balls, that drops to .00006%.

Both numbers are ASTRONOMICALLY low. Yet, those like Andy Zlotnick would have you believe otherwise, that there are more foul balls than 46 per game and that more people are injured by them than really are.

In other words, the nets where a blatant overreaction to the true dangers.

The current count, as of 8/17/2108 is:

17 Flat out hit (9.9%)

58 Phone/not watching (33.1%)

13 PARENTAL NEGLECT! (1 gave son bloody nose! 1 DROPPED by dad! 7.6%)

14 Ricochet/Other (8.1%)

75 going for ball (43.6%)

54 net fails

TOTAL: 177

While the percentages are lower than last season, look more closely at the numbers. MORE overall injuries are occurring…and there are fewer fans…and more nets.

This seems inconceivable. If nets are meant to protect more fans, why are more getting injured when there are FEWER fans attending? There’s been a 6.6% drop in attendance this season, making the average attendance about 19,750.

That makes the percentage of fans smoked by or otherwise injured because of a foul ball at each game: .009%. This is an increase of TOTAL fan injuries related to foul balls of .004%.

Let me put this into very simple terms: Nearly TWICE AS MANY fans are being injured as a result of foul balls in some way this season.

 When we consider the 18 hit outright by balls, that drops to .00008%. This .00002% drop is statistically insignificant.

Putting this into perspective: More fans are getting injured, yet nets are up.

The most important stat in all this is the “ricochet” data. 8.1% of all reports this season from fans being hit or tweeting someone got nailed by a ball are due to ricochets OFF THE NETS!

This is a VERY serious issue Manfred and the rest of Major League Baseball is ignoring. Nets are, as the data shows, MORE DANGEROUS than no nets.

With nets, we’ve seen a 6.6% drop in attendance accompanied by about an 80% increase in the number of fans being flat out hit. The number of fans who are flat out hit in 2018, if we also add in all those poor people who didn’t stand a chance due to ricochets, we see OVER TWICE as many fans reporting foul ball injuries.

The main issue, as I’ve said elsewhere, is nets create a false sense of security and ADD an unanticipated danger to the experience: Ricochets you simple can’t predict or react to I a timely manner. Manfred failed to do is due diligence and consider all possible problems with nets.

MLB attendance has been dropping almost every year since Manfred came on as commissioner. While Selig had his major issues, he had the best interests of the fans in mind most of the time. Manfred is acting like a lawyer and businessman, not considering what his changes will do to the game itself.

There are four reasons for the attendance drop:

  • Game time.
  • Nets which have caused obstructed views
  • Pricing (the average ticket cost is now $76, a jump from $70 in 2016)

What are NOT the reasons? Nobody with any sense of understanding can proclaim any longer that it’s “the weather”.

Manfred is to blame for the demise of the National Pastime. Period. The numbers don’t lie.