MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said that he was "encouraged by the league's 'redoubled' efforts to expand netting at ballparks" across baseball, according to AJ Cassavell of MLB.com. In the wake of an incident at Yankee Stadium this week involving a young fan, Manfred said that MLB had "'extensive' talks with clubs on Thursday in an effort to increase fan safety." Manfred: "I'm really encouraged by the conversations that have taken place." He added, "A number of clubs have made clear that they either have made ... or will be making announcements about additional netting for the 2018 season. I see that as a continuation of a process that is really good for the game over the long haul" (MLB.com, 9/21). The Reds, Padres and Mariners on Thursday all "committed to extend the amount of netting in their ballparks." Before Thursday, only about a third of MLB teams -- the Yankees not among them -- "have at the commissioner's urging extended the netting to at least the far end of the dugout." U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) "told Manfred in a letter to push to extend safety netting at all 30 ballparks" (ESPN.com, 9/21). In Seattle, Scott Hanson notes the Mariners are expected to extend netting at Safeco Field "to at least the end of the dugouts" (SEATTLE TIMES, 9/22). SPORTSNET.ca's Shi Davidi reported the Blue Jays will review protective measures at Rogers Centre "during the off-season" (SPORTSNET.ca, 9/21).
ALL EYES ON YANKEES: In N.Y., Red & Botte write under the header, "Yankees Being Pushed By MLB, Local Pols To Add Protective Netting" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/22). Also in N.Y., Kevin Kernan writes the Yankees have "run out of excuses" and must "extend the netting." The Yankees are "studying the issue in detail but have not yet made any announcements" (N.Y. POST, 9/22). On Long Island, Anthony Rieber reports Yankees President Randy Levine and COO Lonn Trost were "out of the office Thursday because of the Rosh Hashanah holiday" (NEWSDAY, 9/22). Twins President Dave St. Peter said, "For our season-ticket base, netting is part of their new reality." He added, "Over time you’re going to see more netting across the industry, with hopes of doing everything we can to prevent the types of injury that took place yesterday. We still have injuries in our ballpark and we’ve added more netting. It isn’t a perfect system" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/22). In N.Y., Christian Red reports it is "unclear if the family of the girl" hit by the foul ball at Yankee Stadium is "exploring litigation of any sort" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/22). SI.com's Michael McCann wrote under the header, "Yankees Incident Revives An Old Question: How Responsible Are Teams For Foul Ball Injuries?" (SI.com, 9/21). FORBES' Maury Brown: "Waiting for the Yankees. Happy to hear other clubs deciding to extend netting but Levine and NYY front office are on the clock" (TWITTER.com, 9/21).
TIME TO TAKE ACTION? N.Y. City Council member Rafael Espinal Jr. said the injury at Yankee Stadium "could have been avoided if only the Yankees would have extended their netting at the proper time.” Espinal said of the Mets extending their netting past the dugout, "They did right by their fans and from what I've heard, they haven't had any injuries since.” Espinal said of the bill he introduced into legislation in May that would make it law for all ballparks in N.Y. to extend netting all the way to each foul pole, "I've kept it on ice for the past few months because the club did approach me and we did have productive conversations." He added, "At this point, it's a no-brainer. You have a two-year-old child get hit by a 100-mile-an-hour foul ball, I think that itself will send a message that not only the Yankees should take the lead on this issue, but I guess the MLB as a whole" (“OTL,” ESPN, 9/21).
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING: In N.Y., Juliet Macur wonders what it will take for MLB to "make every team do what some teams already have and extend the protective netting even more." Macur: "It's called doing the right thing" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/22). USA TODAY's Bob Nightengale writes, "It’s time for you, the fans, to speak out." Blame MLB for "merely recommending, and not requiring, that teams have protective netting that extends beyond every dugout." But "blame your peers, too, the ones who pay top dollar for the finest seats in these largely taxpayer-funded palaces." Nightengale: "They're the ones who keep telling baseball owners that you don’t want expanded netting" (USA TODAY, 9/22). In Detroit, Anthony Fenech writes fan safety "should be the MLB’s first priority." It "shouldn’t take a young child getting hit with a rocket foul ball in the head to make things change" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 9/22). Pittsburgh-based KDKA-FM's Colin Dunlap wrote on Twitter that Manfred "needs to step up and mandate netting at all parks." Dunlap: "Not leave it up to teams. Be a leader, make unilateral decision" (TWITTER.com, 9/21). SI.com's Gabriel Baumgaertner: "Just put the nets up please" (TWITTER.com, 9/21). ESPN’s Mike Wilbon said he “will not allow” his son to sit in unprotected areas. ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser: “It seems to me that baseball in this particular case needs to rather quickly make a decision to put netting up” (“PTI,” ESPN, 9/21).
MORE REAX: The Undefeated’s Clinton Yates said of teams without extended netting, “I got to believe it’s because they know that there is a seriously diminished experience.” Yates: “It's not just about the visual presentation. It’s about the interaction of the fans with the people on the field.” But ESPN’s Israel Gutierrez said “you can barely tell” there is netting when sitting behind home plate and the experience is not “really effected.” Gutierrez: “What shouldn’t be the case is when you go to this game or any sporting event, is the idea that a brush with death is possible.” ESPN’s Pablo Torre: “There is a trade-off that is encountered when you go to a ballpark between safety and entertainment and what I would say is when the financial cost is this minimal, safety tends to be the answer” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 9/21). The N.Y. Daily News’ John Harper said the teams that have extended their netting have had “very few” complaints from fans. SNY’s Dan Graca said if fans are “sitting that close, safety is the primary concern.” Graca: “Be proactive, it shouldn’t take something like this for the rest of baseball to catch on” (“Daily News Live,” SNY, 9/21).