Back in September, towards the end of baseball’s regular season, a young fan was seriously injured after being hit by a foul ball at Yankee Stadium. In the wake of the incident, which left many players on the field visibly shaken and upset, commissioner Rob Manfred publicly insisted the the league would redouble safety efforts.
Players also made their voices heard, insisting that it was past time teams that had not already done so expanded protective netting beyond first and third base. Multiple teams — including the Padres, Reds, and Mariners — announced almost immediately they would be expanding their netting.
Although those announcements included caveats that it would take time to nail down the physics of adding additional netting, all teams made their intentions clear. (And yes, your opinions on why protective netting shouldn’t be extended are bad.)
But the Yankees held out, even as the calls for netting grew louder the more they failed to announce a change. Until now, months later, when they’ve announced they will indeed be extending the protective netting at Yankee Stadium beyond first and third base, nearly halfway into the outfield.
According to the Wall Street Journal’s Jared Diamond, the netting will be in place before the 2018 season begins. Which is a good thing. What’s more curious is that it took the Yankees took this long to announce they would be doing this good thing.
It’s not as if every team that made the same announcement had a fully formed diagram at the ready when they did it. They simply announced their intentions to do so, something that doesn’t take months of planning meetings and netting vendor negotiations to do. Which is slightly disappointing on the Yankees’ part, since this is one of the few situations where an earlier, token announcement wouldn’t have been scoffed at.
Despite the delay in saying they would expand their netting, the bottom line is this is the right thing to do and we are at the point where every team makes sure the netting is as extended as physically reasonably for the safety of all the fans.