MLB Issues Recommendations Regarding Netting

NettingThe commissioners office today took a step toward improving the safety of fans by issuing recommendations regarding netting to all 30 clubs.  Or at least they are making the appearance they are taking steps forward, because their “recommendations” are just that.  They come with zero actual new rules or directives.  Simply common sense things they want teams to maybe, possibly, consider doing, you know if you feel up it.

Of course on the flip side, the league does not own the parks, so correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t believe, they have any actual authority here, so issuing a recommendation may be all they really can do.  Plus, as Historiophiliac pointed out, if a team does not follow these recommendations, it would look pretty poorly in any future litigation.  Either way, let’s hope that teams take these recommendations seriously and make improvements swiftly.

The recommendations — which resulted from a review that began earlier this summer — include the following:

• Clubs are encouraged to implement or maintain netting (or another effective protective screen or barrier of their choosing) that shields from line-drive foul balls all field-level seats that are located between the near ends of both dugouts (i.e., the ends of the dugouts located closest to home plate, inclusive of any adjacent camera wells) and within 70 feet of home plate. The Commissioner’s Office has retained a consultant specializing in stadium architecture and protective netting to assist interested clubs in implementing this recommendation.

• Although clubs already provide warnings to fans about the dangers posed by batted balls and bats entering the stands and the need to pay attention to the action on the field during each at-bat, the Commissioner’s Office recommends that clubs continue to explore ways to educate their fans on these issues and is providing clubs with resources to assist them in this area.

• The Commissioner’s Office will be working with the clubs and online ticketing sellers to identify ways to provide customers with additional information at the point of sale about which seats are (and are not) behind netting.

So, basically increase the length of netting down the foul lines, try to provide better warnings to fans to pay attention, (although we are unsure how to accomplish this), and give people a better understanding of where exactly their seats are when purchasing tickets, and if those seats are behind netting or not.

Manfred has the following to state on the new recommendations:

“I am confident that this recommendation will result not only in additional netting at Major League ballparks but also draw additional attention to the need for fans who make the choice not to sit behind netting to be prepared for the possibility of foul balls and bats entering the stands.”

12 thoughts on “MLB Issues Recommendations Regarding Netting

  1. I wonder how easy it will be to add these nets at Wrigley, considering that Wrigley is designated as a historical landmark.

    One of the benefits to that status is that they get a huge tax credit that will reimburse them for a few hundred million on the renovations/refurbishments they are currently doing…and one of the drawbacks is that pretty much everything that changes the look/appearance of the park has to be approved by some historical preservation commission.

    It seems like it shouldn’t be a big deal, but it could be.

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      • I have no idea about Fenway and their specifics. I’m not even really that sure about all the Wrigley specifics, I’ve just picked up some bits and pieces while following along with the construction work that’s been going on.

        However, I did just find this from Levine, suggesting that there shouldn’t be much of an issue here. Maybe the netting isn’t considered a “permanent” fixture like the video boards?

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    • Doesn’t safety usually beat out preservation in these sort of things? I mean sure it’ll likely introduce delays as it goes through the proper channels, but when it comes to similar things such as adding railings or whatever, I’d imagine the safety of human life should trump ascetics. But then again when you get into people running historical societies, you run into any number of nut-jobs on a power-trip. Of course if it’ll put the ball club in the clear as if the society denies any of these changes, the club can pass the buck on to them in case of lawsuits.

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    • I can tell you from experience that you can’t clean bird poop off of rusted steel shades without approval from the preservation folks. Netting doesn’t seem like it would be a big problem though. For one thing, it’s designed specifically not to impede or alter views (like, say, walls or solid objects), so that should help. Also, it doesn’t really change the structure, purpose or design of the site. As a safety upgrade, it does get a little leeway, but they will have to try to find a way to install it that matches what’s already there — which means, if there’s new technology for that, they’ll probably not be able to use it and will have to go with whatever they have for the netting that’s already there. If they were putting in shades or different kinds of seating, it would be much more complicated.

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  2. I can’t say that I’m thrilled about the new netting. But I also can’t say that I have ever been hit in the head with a batted ball at a ballgame.

    I did dislocate a thumb catching a really high foul pop at the Astrodome once.

    Jeez, that hurt.

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