As a relatively young, coordinated, athletic man who played baseball growing up and continues to play softball now, I have never felt unsafe at any baseball game, regardless of the netting. How often, however, do you see people sitting along the first and third baseline that are not lucky enough to feel so safe? It’s all too often.
The recent events with the young girl who was hit in the head by a batted ball off the bat of Todd Frazier and was subsequently hospitalized called this to everyone’s attention. I don’t mean to speculate, but as an Emergency Medicine physician, I know that you don’t get hospitalized for over a week for a concussion, regardless of age. Unfortunately, something more happened to this girl, and I just hope and pray that it does not affect her in the long term. That would be a tragedy.
Selfishly, putting up nets would do nothing for me personally. In fact, going to games would become slightly less enjoyable from those first and third baseline seats. There would be no potential for catching a foul ball, and the nets would inevitably make it harder to see the ball. They’d have to decrease the pricing of those seats slightly, which is I’m sure a huge part of the motivation to avoid putting up the netting. Before you jump down their throats over it, don’t forget these guys are running a business and it is their obligation to their employees to try to make as much money as possible for that business.
On the other hand, it is their obligation to their customers to do whatever is in their power to keep them safe while consuming the product of Major League Baseball. At this point though, I am going to take a turn and say that I do not think there is any excuse left not to extend the netting. In fact, it poses a significant risk going forward for the team, as the evidence is there that it is dangerous. To continue not having the nets will be a huge legal liability, especially with what I am about to tell you.
The Yankees have used the excuse in the past that they have signs everywhere saying to stay off your cell phone during the game, and to pay constant attention while you are in those seats. The featured photo you see at the top of the article was taken from my cell phone. I was lucky enough to be sitting one of the seats that was very close to the field along the third base line, not covered by the netting. The picture you see is a menu, complete with instructions on how to download an app and order food/drinks from your cell phone. I would add a couple of things to this. The app is slow, and you will often have to recheck your phone several times to make sure a transaction went through or to check and see if the product you are looking for has loaded on the screen yet. The other thing I would add is that there was not one waitor/waitress, beer man, cotton candy salesperson, or any other salesperson that made their way to our section during the entire 9 innings contest.
This is not a complaint. As someone who was not concerned about the lack of nets for my safety, I had no qualms about using the app to order, or going up to the concession stands to get my products either. That said, for the Yankees to say that they are discouraging cell phone use is a complete lie. They have an app that essentially encourages cell phone use in an irresponsible way, and furthermore they have no beer or other salespersons walking around the park to sell food and drinks; this is quite the opposite of discouraging cell phone use. Worse yet, they promote the app by placing the above pamphlet in the cupholders of the very seats that are the most dangerous in the park. The third and first baseline lower level seats.
There is no excuse for this. It would be one thing if you were to resist extending the netting for financial reasons; but then to promote the use of cell phones in those seats and ignore the calls of your players and the fans repeatedly is deplorable.
I have this nervous feeling that they are just waiting for all of this to blow over and next year they will do nothing and all will be forgotten. By writing this article, I am hoping to re-open this can of worms again and shed some light on some of the practices that are going on at the stadium now. I may even post a refresher as the new season nears if an announcement is not made that they have decided to extend the netting.
Hopefully it is already in the Yankees’ plans to do the right thing. If this is the case, then it is great that they have chosen to have a conscience with regard to their fans, the people who pay their salary. If not, however, then the opposite is true. I would encourage people to continue to put pressure on the Yankees to extend the netting. Use social media to your advantage, and use the hashtag #extendthenetting when doing so. If they won’t do the right thing, then maybe we can force their hands.