Baseball debates adding netting for fan safety or sticking to status quo – Chicago Tribune

When a fan made a one-handed catch of a foul ball while bottle-feeding his infant son during a Cubs game in late June, the video went viral and he gained international attention.

Unusual catches of foul balls or home runs are a staple of sports highlights shows, and sometimes the battle in the stands for baseballs is more interesting than the game itself.

But recent injuries caused by flying bats and balls leaves Major League Baseball with a complex issue that could alter the ballpark experience dramatically.

Should there be minimum requirements on how much safety netting is used at major-league ballparks, or should fans sitting in those seats take the same risks millions of others have dealt with for more than a century?

There’s no consensus on the issue, though the MLB Players Association has tried to require more netting behind the plate in previous labor talks and may do so again when the collective-bargaining agreement comes up in 2016.

“In the last two rounds of collective bargaining, we’ve made a proposal to increase the netting,” Cardinals reliever and players union representative Carlos Villanueva said. “We’ve gotten some resistance.

“Some of the fans didn’t want to (do it), but the sad thing about it is something (bad) has to happen, and it has happened a couple of times already this season, for that to come back into the conversation. It’s something that MLB is looking at more closely, and hopefully we can make some improvements.”


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