White Sox Will Be First MLB Team To Extend Netting To Foul Poles
The White Sox are planning to "extend the protective netting at Guaranteed Rate Field down the lines to the foul poles as soon as possible," making them the first MLB team to "extend the netting to the corners of the outfield," according to Daryl Van Schouwen of the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES. Before last season, every MLB club "extended the netting to the end of each dugout." Going "beyond that, however, was left up to each franchise." Calls for more fan safety "increased after a 4-year-old girl was struck by a foul ball" on May 29 at Minute Maid Park. More recently, a woman last week was "bloodied and taken to a hospital after being hit by a foul ball" at Guaranteed Rate Field (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 6/19). The White Sox said that the work will be "completed by the team and Illinois Sports Facilities Authority 'later this summer,' with an exact date to be determined" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 6/19). ESPN.com's Jeff Passan cited sources as saying that White Sox Owner Jerry Reinsdorf "spearheaded the plan" to extend the netting. High-ranking officials from other teams "expect it to have a cascading effect, with teams around the league pledging to extend netting." Another source said that other teams "could retrofit their stadiums before the end" of this season (ESPN.com, 6/18).
CREDIT WHERE IT'S DESERVED: In Chicago, Rick Telander writes the White Sox will become the first MLB team to "have the netting go everywhere it is needed." No other team "has done that," which is "ridiculous." Apparently, "not enough fans have been severely injured by foul balls to get" MLB’s attention. But "kudos to the Sox anyway" because being late "beats never by a mile" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 6/19). ESPN’s Jason Fitz said the White Sox are "finally doing what everybody needs to do.” ESPN’s Randy Scott: “Score one for common sense" (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 6/19). THE ATHLETIC's James Fegan wrote as more incidents have happened, a "multi-billion dollar industry is not going to shrug off a legitimate safety and liability concern to preserve an ethereal sense of purity, and the White Sox’s response is all the more telling to that fact" (THEATHLETIC.com, 6/18).
IF YOU'RE NOT FIRST...: ESPN’s Trey Wingo said the White Sox' decision "ends the argument" of other teams that say they "can't do it this fast." Those teams "can do it," but are "choosing not to." ESPN’s Mike Golic Jr. said, "I am surprised that it’s the White Sox as the team in Chicago doing this when the Cubs players were very vocal about this process. We said that the players could choose to exercise their voice in this and then it’s the team on the other side of town in Chicago doing this” (“Golic & Wingo,” ESPN Radio, 6/19). Cubs OF Albert Almora Jr., whose foul ball struck the 4-year-old girl back in May, said, “I don’t think anybody should go home with bumps, bruises or even worse. Whatever they have to do to take care of that, I'm glad they're taking procedures.” Cubs 1B Anthony Rizzo: “Both foul posts are pretty aggressive in my opinion, but you don't want anyone to be hurt. Sooner or later, it probably will end up being both foul posts for every team” (“Today,” NBC, 6/19)