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Ways to Improve Fan Safety

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AND MY RETURN TO TCB

MLB: Chicago Cubs at Houston Astros Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier this season, a young girl was struck in the head by a foul ball off the bat of Albert Almora, which led to more discussion about whether teams should install nets from foul pole to foul pole. Everyone has weighed in from players, to teams, and of course us. Those conversations continued Wednesday after the extent of the girl’s injuries were made public in a letter from their lawyer to the Houston Astros. The Houston Chronicle reports that the young girl suffered a skull fracture, at least one seizure, a brain edema (brain swelling), and an abnormal EEG which may indicate lifetime problems. The associated press reports the family was sitting one section beyond where the nets extend. How do teams make sure this doesn’t happen again, and how do we make sure teams make these changes?

The Not an Option, Option-Lawsuit

There is so much involved in this subject. It's quite complicated. The somments helped me out a lot. This is according to WMT (Willie McGee's Twins) who is far more knowledgable than me,"Basically as I understand it, Texas law (i.e., common law made by Texas courts) prevents the team from being held liable for negligence when a foul ball hurts someone in the stands. This is known as the baseball rule and it protects big teams and stadium owners like the Astros as well as small organizations, like little leagues. If you’d like to know more, check the comments below. That being said, should that law exist? Ok, let’s move on."

The Impractical Approach - Every team gives out Helmets

This idea is rather impractical, but hear me out. Every team gives out batting helmets to people who want them. Families get first choice. Parents can decide if they want to make their kid wear it or not. At the end of the game, people would either pay money to take it home, or drop it in a box. The idea behind this is similar to riding a bike with a helmet. A helmet might mitigate the effect of a fall. In the same way, a helmet might at least lessen the impact of the baseball on a persons skull. There are a number of problems. The first being that there is no definitive way to prove that the helmet does enough like a net. The second problem is cost. Teams may not want to pay for the cost of the helmets. Thirdly, the upkeep, teams would have to heavily sanitize the helmets. This might create a nightmare for the cleaning crews. I don’t even want to think about some of the stuff kids put on their heads, or in their hair.

A WARNING LIGHT, WHISTLE, EMPLOYEE YELL, OR DRONE.

So there are two ideas in here. The first being the standard, ”heads up.” Every little league parent knows about this method. Anytime a baseball is hit into the stands, someone shouts,” heads up.” In this scenario, a machine, would say it, or blast an alarm. Maybe the machine would be connected to Statcast or some in stadium tracking software. The other idea is to have multiple drones that fly around and catch the balls. Between innings, these drones would then fly to a kid and let them have the ball. Obviously both of these are impractical. There is no telling that a drone would be fast enough, or if a warning sound or light would do enough.

THE OBVIOUS-EXTEND THE NETS

A net from foul pole to foul pole will help. We know it won’t stop all injuries, but do we expect seatbelts, or airbags to protect us from any and all injuries during a crash? No, but the net would have saved this girl from a skull fracture. Some say they inhibit player and fan interactions, then make them retractable. If you don’t like them in front of you, don’t sit there. I have been informed since this writing that this rationale is also part of the baseball law. Essentially teams have to put nets in some places where the ball is likely to hit. Those that choose to not sit by the net then are essentially saying they accept the fact that the net will not protect them. So from a legal standpoint, I get it, but I honestly think the safest and best option is still to extend the nets.

HOW CAN I MAKE SURE THE NETS ARE EXTENDED?

Write letters, send tweets, send emails. Every time an incident happens, the news will report it. That’s when it is your chance to bombard them with letters, emails, and tweets. When Reid Ryan appears on one of the radio stations, call in and ask how he plans to improve fan safety.

Finally, I’d like to say, I’m back. I’ve been gone awhile. (I used to go by stephon146.) I was in college, then after a long time of unemployment was working for a news station, where I was working third shift. Like many people, my passion for writing left me. Last week, after a long while, I got the urge to write again. I hope to be more active this time around with TCB. This is hopefully, the first of a number of articles I’ll write here. I hope I can help inspire all of you to let your voices be heard on this topic or any topic. Just follow the community guidelines.