2019 MLB Season Final Results: More Fans Injured by Foul Balls Despite More Nets

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.

There’s a major concern this season too, one nobody else appears to be addressing in a serious manner: The danger extended nets are to fans. As the data shows, there are increasingly fewer fans, more nets, yet more fans reporting foul ball related injuries. 

This season has ALREADY blown past last season in terms of the number of fans self-reporting or noting that someone else was hit, and despite the extended nets, one fan was killed near the end of the 2018 season. The ball went OVER the nets and killed her…the second MLB fan death in OVER 100 years of pro baseball. And 2018 blew past the 2017 numbers quickly too.

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.

First, 2017 average game attendance was 29,909. That was down nearly 200 fans on average from 2016. 2018 saw a DRAMATIC drop in average attendance, dropping a whopping 1250 fans PER GAME to 28659. That attendance level hasn’t been seen 2003 which had 27,831 fans on average attending games. MLB attendance is at a 15-year low. And 2019 continued that downward trend, seeing a drop of nearly 500 fans/game.

Some argue it is game length. That certainly is a factor in the graduate decline in attendance, but the games have been about the same length for a few seasons now. While attendance has been dropping a great deal since Manfred took over, MLB saw a dramatic drop this season. And a dramatic upswing in fans on Twitter reporting foul ball injuries. These are the numbers from this year:

  • 19 Flat out hit (7.4%)
  • 61 Phone/not watching (23.8%)
  • 19 PARENTAL NEGLECT! (7.4%)
  • 27 Ricochet/Other (10.5%)
  • 132 Going for ball (51.2%)
  • 141 Net fails 

TOTAL HITS: 258

For comparison, here are the 2017 and 2018 season totals…

These were injuries reported on Twitter ALONE for the 2017 MLB season:

  • 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

FINAL 2018 #MLB @MLB season Foul Ball Facials TOTALS (via Twitter):

  • 19 Flat out hit (9.1%)
  • 73 Phone/not watching (35.1%)
  • 14 PARENTAL NEGLECT! (1 gave son bloody nose! 1 DROPPED by dad! 6.7%)
  • 15 Ricochet/Other (7.2%)
  • 89 going for ball (42.3%)

87 net fails

Total Hits: 209

THE LIES THEY TELL

Looking at the difference between 2017 and 2018 totals, when extended nets started going up illuminates the problem with the argument pro-netters make. Check it out: the percentage of fans smoked by or otherwise injured because of a foul ball at each game:  .005%. When we consider the 18 hit outright by balls, that drops to .00006%. This is just the 2017 to 2018 changes in terms of attendance.

Both numbers are ASTRONOMICALLY low. Yet, many pro-netters 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.

These numbers are indicative of what the problem with nets are that pro-netters deny: They are dangerous. Look at the numbers. 2018 and 2019 aren’t all that far off, despite the jump of nearly 50 more fans reporting being injured by balls, mostly in the “going for a ball” section. This alone should be telling, that the numbers are relatively the same for the two years since nets have been going up AND that foul balls are becoming less abundant DESPITE lower attendance, that more fans are reporting being injured because they went after a ball. If 2020 holds to this pattern, then we have three consecutive years of similar data, and I suspect we will. I also suspect the pro-netters will somehow rationalize these facts away, because of their confirmation bias.

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

HUGE DIFFERENCES

As for the 2017- 2018 numbers, while the percentages are lower than the previous 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? Early in the season there’d been a 6.6% drop in attendance, making the average attendance about 19,750 from the same time the year before. That percentage only continued to sink as the season went on. The overall attendance saw a 9.6% overall drop from 2017, from 29909 to 28659. The drop between 2018 and 2019 was 9.8%, down to 28198. Thus, that percentage drops a little more between 2018 and 2019.

That makes the percentage of fans smoked by or otherwise injured because of a foul ball at each game: .007%. This is an increase of TOTAL fan injuries related to foul balls of .002%. An INCREASE in the number of fans reporting a foul ball injury from any action or inaction.

When we consider the 19 fans who were hit outright by balls in 2017, that drops to .00007%. This .00001% drop is statistically insignificant. Any statistician will tell you that. Thus, nets made ZERO difference this season, nor did they in 2018… The perfect example of nets not working is the death of an older fan who was supposedly protected by the netting… A death AFTER nets were put up and as a result of a ball going OVER the net.. And in 2019, we saw cases where nets did nothing. Take the case of the Astros fan nailed by a foul ball that, as he admits, soaredover the net. The net, as he implies, threw off his judgement, and the ball crushed his face as a result.

To repeat for emphasis and to put this into perspective: More fans are getting injured, yet MORE and MORE nets are up.

The most important stat in all this is the “ricochet” data. In 2018 7.2% 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 means going to games is ever MORE dangerous now than it was just a year ago. In 2019, that number jumped to 10.5%, a THREE percent increase in fan injuries due to ricochets off the nets. That makes nets more dangerous, not less.

IGNORING THE FACTS

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

With nets, we’ve seen a 9.5% drop in attendance between 2017 and 2018 and 9.8% between 2018 and 2019. Bot years were accompanied by an 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, were OVER TWICE as many as those reporting foul ball injuries. In 2019, thanks again to ricochets that fans has no chance to respond to, the number of fans flat out hit jumped more DESPITE another attendance drop. The reason? Simply put: More netting to ricochet off of.

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 in a timely manner. Manfred failed to do is due diligence and consider all possible problems with nets and the teams continue to ignore this increased danger… until they are sued and lose. 

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. The nets, as the self-reported data implies, are killing people (literally) and is a large part of the tanking of attendance.

The data is forming a pattern, one MLB needs to take seriously before they are sued and the game itself is altered irreversibly for the worse. The facts show that more fans are injured by more nets than not. We’ve already seen one death after extended nets went up. How many more deaths does Manfred want on his conscience? The facts are facts. Deny them if you wish, but it doesn’t change this one simple fact: Nets are more dangerous than no nets because they give a false sense of security. One death in 2 years of extra nets versus one death in over 100 years without the extended nets? Do the math.