This week, something happened at an MLB game that could cause more safety for fans at games, and I am all for it.
During a Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros game earlier last week, a 3-year-old girl was struck by a foul ball and was taken to the hospital.
The incident occurred in the fourth inning of the game at Minute Maid Park in Houston, when Cubs outfielder Albert Almora Jr., struck a ball in foul territory behind third base.
From the replay it is hard to make out the ball actually striking the girl, and truthfully, I didn’t see the ball at all.
But, when it happened the sea of people in the seats near the girl’s seat all stood up and people where calling for help.
And, you could hear from the broadcast Almora say, “oh my God.”
The broadcast from at least the Cubs side of the game was silent for quite a while, including the entire ballpark and Almora was devastated.
He went down to a knee and put his head in his hands. It was such a scary moment, even watching from my TV.
You could see the look of worry on Cubs shortstop Javier Baez’s face when the camera panned to him.
The entire stadium was probably worried about what happened.
Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward — who was standing on deck — and manager Joe Maddon went over to talk with Almora about the incident and was eventually joined by Baez.
Almora was visibly shaken by the incident.
He stayed in and finished his at bat, but struck out on the next pitch.
His head wasn’t in the at bat and you could tell as he appeared to wipe tears from his eyes as he walked back to the dugout.
There haven’t been many updates, but I have seen the girl is OK and the family is trying to remain private.
Almora has reached out to the family and wants to maintain a relationship with them.
At the beginning of 2018, all 30 MLB teams extended their netting to the end of each team’s dugouts in order to protect fans, but this ball Almora hit went beyond the netting.
Because of this most recent event, there have been talks about extending the netting even further, possibly to the foul lines.
If it means the safety of fans, then I am all for extending the nets.
I have seen numerous times where fans in shot of the camera, close to the field and they are on their phones not paying attention.
In fact, there was a somewhat viral video around baseball a few years ago where a group of girls were at an Arizona Diamondbacks game and were all on their phones.
With exit velocity becoming a more prominent stat in baseball, it is easy to see how hard the ball flies off the bat when the ball is squared up.
The hardest hit ball came off of New York Yankees outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, which was 120.6 mph off his bat that fell for a single.
Another Yankee outfielder Aaron Judge is averaging the highest exit velocity off his bat at 99 mph.
And, MLB, as a whole, just set the all-time record for home runs in a single month.
Balls seem to be getting hit harder than ever, which could spell danger for fans if the netting at games is not extended.
When my family went to a Texas Rangers and Chicago Cubs game in Arlington, Texas, during opening weekend I was curious as to how the extended netting would play at the park as I actually had a better view of batted balls than I did at Wrigley Field last year when I sat in the bleachers with my wife.
Fans were still able to get souvenir baseballs at the game, which is one of the fun, more unique features of going to a game in person.
Fans do need to protected from baseballs getting hit hard.
Something traveling at 100 mph is going to hurt if you can’t get out of the way and has a potential to be life-threatening.
A batted ball took the life of an Arkansas Travelers base coach in 2009, which led to all base coaches to wear batting helmets.
Again, if may lead to fewer souvenirs at the ballpark, but it leads to more safety for fans, that may not have time to react or may look away from play of a couple of minutes.