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Volume 26 No. 207
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Pirates Become Latest Team To Plan To Extend Protective Netting

The timeline for completion of the netting extension at PNC Park is relatively open-ended
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
The timeline for completion of the netting extension at PNC Park is relatively open-ended
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
The timeline for completion of the netting extension at PNC Park is relatively open-ended
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

The Pirates said that they plan to "extend protective netting to both foul poles" at PNC Park, and many players on the team "want protective netting to be uniform" across MLB, according to Jason Mackey of the PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE. Pirates P Trevor Williams said, "It’s inexcusable that it hasn’t been done at all 30 stadiums, it really is." Pirates President Frank Coonelly said that the timeline for completion of the netting is "relatively open-ended." Pirates P Steven Brault said, “It’s gonna happen. I don’t know why we’re delaying it. I think every stadium should go with it" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 6/28). Coonelly said that while the Pirates are "expediting the process, they want to make sure that they do it in a way that maintains the experience of being at a ballgame." In Pittsburgh, Matt Sunday noted the team will "wait to announce a plan until the correct one is in place" (DKPITTSBURGHSPORTS.com, 6/27).

ONE FOR ALL: In Chicago, Madeline Kenney noted U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth wrote a letter delivered to MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred on Thursday "calling for all 30 teams to extend protective netting down the right- and left-field corners." The two Illinois Sens. wrote, "We appreciate the efforts MLB and individual teams have taken so far for the safety of fans. However, it is clear the current extended netting is not sufficient to protect fans from serious injury or death" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 6/27). ESPN’s Jeff Passan said, “Part of me understands that Rob Manfred has a game to protect. The other part of me believes that Rob Manfred has an entire fan base to protect and that fan base is the absolute imperative of his commissionership” (“OTL,” ESPN, 6/27). In Chicago, Phil Rosenthal notes pole-to-pole netting is "not uncommon at ballparks in Japan." But a "lack of uniformity in U.S. ballpark designs is said to have factored into Manfred’s decision to not mandate that as a standard" throughout MLB. Fans "aren’t the only ones affected by the netting," as TV cameras have to "shoot through them, with the lines holding the nets up sometimes quite noticeable" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 6/28).

A NO BRAINER? In Pittsburgh, Paul Zeise writes there is "no reason teams shouldn’t extend netting in the lower deck at least through the area where fans are in danger of getting directly hit with a line-drive foul ball." Zeise: "It is idiotic that it hasn’t happened, and I am one who doesn’t like knee-jerk changes." It is "OK to use common sense, and this is a very easy common sense fix for an infrequent yet serious problem" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 6/28). In Denver, Kyle Newman wrote, "I used to be staunchly anti-netting, ... I saw it as a softening of the baseball experience for the true fan who paid good money to sit in the lower bowl and get an up-close look at the world’s best players." But he added, "I don’t think they are legitimate gripes anymore now that we’ve seen how little of an impact the netting has on the sight-lines." Newman: "Teams must stop taking chances with protecting fans, and I’d anticipate huge changes regarding netting heading into 2020" (DENVERPOST.com, 6/24).