Players try to save baseball from its own stupid self – Chicago Tribune (blog)
The sparkling new video board flashes a message that warns fans to be alert for objects flying into the stands.
Screaming foul balls and helicoptering shards of bats, specifically.
While fans have their attention diverted from the field to read that message, a screaming foul ball or helicoptering shard of a bat could be flying into the stands.
Then the sparkling new message board has something else demanding fans’ attention over there, and then the sparkling new video board is running something else that attracts eyeballs, and then there’s an alert from Major League Baseball on your phone, and a vendor is coming down the aisle with beer, and baseball isn’t going to help fans by putting up extended netting while it creates a more dangerous environment.
Sounds like trouble to me. Sounds like something that can be easily fixed, too. Those are some of the conclusions I reached while reading the major takeout by our baseball guy Paul Sullivan that ran in Sunday’s Tribune and online here.
Baseball believes many fans don’t want their front-row view of games ruined, even though their remaining brain functions could be ruined.
Fans don’t know, and baseball doesn’t know enough to act. But you know who knows?
Players, that’s who.
One piece of Sully’s story that pantses baseball owners is that the players have repeatedly raised the subject in collective bargaining talks, but owners refused to use common sense and perhaps save themselves an expensive lawsuit.
Think about that: The players are using valuable negotiating chips for the sake of safety instead of something such as earlier free agency.
Players are spending time at the bargaining table on something other than earning the label “greedy.’’
Why is that?
Because players refuse to let their families sit anywhere in the park that is unprotected by netting or screens.
Players know how hard pitchers throw. Players know how fast those pitches come off the bat. Players know that even they have trouble snagging those drives despite being the best in the world at it, so they know that their families have no chance.
The players have connected the dots. Baseball wonks don’t want to, apparently.
A woman in Fenway Park was struck by a shard of a flying bat. She required brain surgery. She lived, so I guess baseball didn’t feel the need to make anything safer.
A man reached into the field of play with his infant strapped to his chest to catch a foul ball at Wrigley Field. The child didn’t require hospitalization, so TV determined it was cute, perpetuating the stupidity.
A fan who interferes with a ball in play is supposed to be automatically ejected. But that idiot was allowed to stay and was allowed to further endanger his child’s life. If you’re scoring at home, credit Cubs security with negligence and idiocy to match that unfit parent.
Which reminds me: Where was DCFS was after that incident? That’s child endangerment and it’s on video. We don’t need to go to the big room in New York to know the man was guilty.
But aside from feeling sorry for humanity that such an idiot was allowed to reproduce, that incident defined the other aspect of the need to extend the netting: protecting fans from themselves.
Teams exacerbate fan danger — arguably training fans to ignore it — by trying to occupy their focus every moment they can.
Baseball teams run screen after screen of video replays, commercials, messages, stats, you name it — everything that takes attention away from home plate, which is ground zero for screaming objects that can put fans in the hospital or somewhere from which there is no release.
Can’t you see a lawyer making that claim on behalf of an injured or deceased plaintiff as it sues MLB?
MLB failed to make things safer, it will be argued, and what’s more, your honor, MLB made it worse with all that inventory running across the message boards that screams for fans not to pay attention to the action, not to mention vendors in the stands whose yelling is a historical distraction.
Fans will get used to the netting or additional screens. That’s the way it worked in hockey when the NHL put up safety netting in the wake of a young fan’s death. That’s the way it works for people who are gifted with tickets behind home plate for the first time.
Truth is, fans get used to everything, except why Rafael Soriano is still in the bullpen.
Copyright © 2015, Chicago Tribune
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