The Issue Of Fan Safety At The Ballpark

While watching Chris Sale rack up the strikeouts on ugly swing after ugly swing, Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies got into a discussion off topic from the game at hand. They had received an email from a fan who wrote in about a potential way to increase scoring. The fan suggested the possible use of aluminum bats. With ultimate courtesy to that foolish suggestion, Kasper and Deshaies were quickly veering into issues of safety.

Obviously, they stated the recent change from aluminum to wood at the collegiate level, shooting down the proposal. They also discussed the increased exit velocity, that could be progressively dangerous to pitchers. Danger to pitchers is already a known element. Just ask Brandon McCarthy.

Very shortly thereafter, Kasper went to the next evident safety issue: the fans in the stands. If an aluminum bat slipped out of a batter’s hands and sailed into the stands, hitting a fan, there is a high likelihood of serious injury, if not flat out fatality. To be parsimonious: the idea is stupid. Deshaies was clearly in disagreement with any proposed equipment change, even potential composite bats.

One thing that nobody is talking about, which is highly frustrating to me, is accountability on the part of the fans. Look, this isn’t some odd form of victim blaming. The woman who was hit by Brett Lawrie‘s broken bat back in June at Fenway Park is not to blame. I certainly hope she is healing up swiftly and will be able to go to games again. And I cannot discuss her specific situation as I haven’t been able to find video that clearly shows what led up to the moment the bat hit her. Also, I’m not a heartless beast.

With that said, I’m categorically opposed to the idea of adding extra netting to increase fan safety. Even behind the high-tension netting, you can get hurt when your back is turned to the action.

In this case, that fan is kind of an idiot (maybe I am a heartless beast?). Look folks, in doing their legal due diligence, most teams have placards all over the backs of seats and section posts warning you to be aware of the potential for bats and balls leaving the field of play and coming into the stands. So, the onus really is on us, the ticket-purchasing fans. We need to be more aware while we are attending games. Unfortunately, so many of us are too self-interested.

In the Age of Narcissus, we are too busy texting, taking selfies (please stop, really), posting to Facebook and Twitter, and talking about what we talked about on Facebook and Twitter. How in the hell are you paying attention to a game you paid upwards of $60-$150 (assumed range for sections in immediate bat/ball danger) to watch?

Regrettably, there are no hard and fast rules that can be applied here. Nonetheless, I encourage you, my fellow fan, that if you are sitting in high-incident-potential sections, then please pay attention; do your own part for your safety and that of others’.

Possibly, one added benefit of having more fans actually watching the game means that we’d have more and more fans who are actually educated as to how the game of baseball works. Furthermore, maybe we wouldn’t have to listen to preposterous ideas on how to increase scoring, because more and more fans would enjoy the game for what it is. These days, the game results in fewer runs. Learn to appreciate good pitching while it’s on top of the game!

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