Back in 2015, after a string of bad incidents of fans getting hit and injured (sometimes severely) by hard-hit baseballs and/or bats that escaped a player’s hands, the MLB issued a recommendation for teams to increase the safety of teams’ ballparks by expanding the protective netting that had always just been behind home plate. Many teams immediately decided to update their ballparks and put netting up that covered far more of the infield stands than ever before.
It was quite the sea change in baseball safety attitude, as the old “Hey, if you can afford to sit that close, then you should be paying attention!” hot take had become outdated. That’s for the best, ultimately, as the clips on social media or the nightly news, showing someone bloodied up or leaving an MLB game in a stretcher, seemingly became more prevalent than in years past, and the ghastly sights that spring up from someone getting hit in the face by a screaming foul ball are the last thing that anybody wants associated with the sport.
Teams began to realize that they could indeed do something about this safety concern, and one by one, the extra netting began to go up around the nation, both in professional ballparks as well as amateur. One of the few remaining holdouts, though, were our very own Los Angeles Angels. They are usually holdouts on just about every other important and/or helpful stadium development, though, so nobody was really surprised, I don’t think.
Well, those days are gone now, thankfully. It was announced today that the Angels would be taking the MLB’s recommendations to heart, and extending the safety netting at Angel Stadium from behind home plate all the way out to the end of each dugout. Here’s the team’s official press release:
In support of Major League Baseball’s recommendation regarding protective stadium netting, Angel Stadium will expand the netting to the end of both dugouts. The Club is working with MLB recommended architectural company, Populous, & will announce specific details at a later date.— Angels (@Angels) January 24, 2018
Good on them. This will barely change or inhibit the way we view the game while at the stadium, and even if it DOES become noticeable or a bit in the way of fans’ views, I’m sure that feeling will go away once everybody becomes accustomed to it. Like Garth Algar once said, “We fear change”, but the other thing to know about change is that we also get used to it pretty quickly, relatively speaking.
So take note, Angels fans. The team has gone to great lengths this offseason to improve our experience overall, whether it’s with the caliber of player we’ll see on the field, or the quality and size of the video screens at the Big A; now, they want to improve your chances of NOT getting sent to the hospital from a foul ball or errant bat. Who can argue with that?