Unless you’re deaf or can’t read, we keep being told that this new extended netting is safe. That it will protect fans and not at all interfere with game enjoyment. That it will …yada yada yada. The fact is, Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball haven’t told you the whole truth. Netting fails often. This creates a legal paradox for MLB (and MiLB teams): Who’s responsible now?
The truth is: Netting fails….OFTEN. And I mean OFTEN. The newest netting, the stuff we’re told is less distracting and tougher, is dangerous. It also gives fans a false sense of security, or false safety. And in the first week of the 2018 season, we’ve already seen FOUR instances reported on Twitter that show how VERY fallible and dangerous the netting can be. None have been as bad as the Tampa Bay Rays extended netting fail in 2016 when a ball sailed through a gap in the netting a hit a fan in the chest. But it’s just a matter of time before it does happen.
I’ve seen FOUR net fails this first week. The netting, which is supposed to protect fans from the hardest hit balls and from bats, and that is supposed to be sealed tightly so no balls can get through in any way, simply did not work. We’ve seen these fails for the last two seasons too. I predicted something like this in this piece on MLB netting issues.
LOST REVENUE, LOST ATTENDANCE AND MORE DANGER
Besides literally failing, netting has been a major contributing factor in the drop in attendance of roughly 9.5% between the 2017 and 2018 seasons. It’s destroying the game. Literally. That 9.5% drop in average attendance totals a rough revenue loss of about $87,500 per game in JUST ticket sales. Double that for concessions and souvenirs. Manfred’s “recommendation” to put up more nets has cost MLB at least $175,000 per game, or roughly 425 MILLION USD over the course of the season (2431 games).
The major problem with netting is it gives fans a false sense of security. This opens Major League Baseball to lost lawsuits–MAYBE. I say “maybe” because it may have been Manfred’s intention to remove all chances of MLB having liability if fans are injured by a ball or bat now. The fan can now sue the netting company…and that’s exactly what’s happened with a lawsuit that involved a net failing in Pittsburgh a couple seasons ago. The Pirates were dropped from the suit, and it’s going forward against only the net company.
Regardless of who is sued now, ANY of the people involved would probably win a lawsuit because of the presumed safety. I hope they make a point one time. Then maybe we can get back to some semblance of sanity. The piece on these four fails is coming up later this week.
BOSTON RED SOX DESTROYED SEAT
You probably heard about THIS epic net fail. Odubel Herrera pounded a foul ball that went THROUGH the net and STILL had the power to break the back of a seat at Fenway.
CHICAGO WHITE SOX NETTING FAIL #1
The first instance is a Chicago White Sox netting issue. In this instance, the netting, which has repeatedly been sold to fans as a guaranteed bat stopper failed. FAILED to stop a bat. Here’s the tweet that brought this issue to my attention:
Thankfully, no fans were injured. But that doesn’t mean the next fan won’t be. If it happened once, it WILL happen again. And when it does, Manfred just signed the death warrant for Major League Baseball and the American Pastime. Baseball will be gone.
CHICAGO WHITE SOX NETTING FAIL #2
In another instance, again at a White Sox game, I discovered a gem about a batboy threading the ball through the netting to hand to some fans the ball. The batboy actually gave it to them.
As the tweeter reports, there is an opening at the south end of the visitors dugout, one large enough for balls to slip right through…this is safe how?!?
DETROIT TIGERS NETTING FAIL
In Detroit, Detroit Tigers GM Al Avila decided he was going to really overreact and install crappy netting down to the foul poles. One morning as I went through the foul ball related tweets from the day before, I ran across a tweet from the dad and his son almost seen in the picture. The father had tweeted “Netting failed”. Of course that piqued my interest, as it turns out the netting wasn’t high enough to protect the boy. By SHEER luck, the ball grazed the young man seen here on his dad’s shoulders. And yet netting is supposed to be safe. The ball came OVER the netting, grazing the boy.
Think about that for a minute…or a second. Had there been NO netting, the father here would have been able to react. He would have seen the ball heading toward his son, and had time to fully react to protect him. However, as I’ve stated MANY times in carious places, the netting offered a false sense of safety, so the father and son were shocked into not being able to react as the ball flew over the nets and grazed this young man’s head.
A ricochet is not something any one can defend against. But they are happening now. I can’t recall a single ricochet off the net guidelines until we got nets all the way down the lines. Again, they’re dangerous!
HOUSTON ASTROS NETTING FAIL
Then there was the Houston Astros fail. This one was off a ricochet…here’s the craziest part though: The fan hit was sitting in the Slaughter Pen! The area that has been covered by netting for over decades.
But it’s not just MLB, Minor League fans are showing how nets fail too.
THIS happened at an MiLB game:
“I will never make fun of a person for flinching on a ball in to the screen again. On a related note, I need to change pants.”
“To clarify, a foul ball came through the screen and hit a couple seats to my right. Had to still be going 90mph or so. If you sit in seats behind the plate, keep your head up.”
And this one:
April 21, 2018
The proof is clear. The nets are NOT doing that we were told they would do. Fans are in MORE danger now than without them.
And mark my words, the day isn’t far from now when another netting fail leads to a serious injury and Major League Baseball loses the lawsuit for millions and millions of dollars, virtually bankrupting the league.
Manfred and League can claim they’ve done things to make the park safer, but what they did do, instead, is make it more dangerous. Fans can no longer adjust to foul balls because of ricochets. Without a doubt, this will put netting companies out of business. They sell clearly defective products under the guise of increased safety. The ball at the Red Sox game proves they aren’t. And MLB will lose lawsuits now due to these failures too.
Sometimes “improvements” actually make things worse.