Toddler Struck At Cubs-Astros Game Reignites Talk of Ballpark Safety
Albert Almora Jr.'s foul heard 'round the league last night will no doubt re-ignite the discussion about full netting around ballparks near and far.
Last night in Houston, his line drive foul hit a child sitting in the stands. The scene was pretty grim for a bit. Astros PR said the child was taken to the hospital, and that's all they would say. Unconfirmed social media reports have the female security guard telling fans nearby that the kid was more scared than hurt. It's tough to watch, but this incident shouldn't cloud our idea of why we go to the ballpark in the first place.
And that's the problem to me. Why is my generation, the last of the kids to ride without a car seat, so obsessed with preventing the unpreventable? It's baseball stadium netting today, maybe the decision to just not have baseball games in the future? Where does the need for safety outweigh the desire for an experience?
If the idea is the most safety, and to reduce or remove the possibility of injury, won't it someday follow that anywhere a baseball is hit into the stands, there should be netting? 415' dead center field? Yep, better get a net up there? Big Mac land in St. Louis? Upper Deck? Rope it off as well. Seem extreme? Maybe your argument is that the odds of injury occurring in those places is too unrealistic. I doubt that defense will hold against anyone who steps in with the, "If we can make it safer," argument, and a lawyer with a black-eyed client. As long as we use this idiotic idea that we all need to be protected from everything, the cost will eventually be everything.
I am not suggesting that this girl or her parents were responsible for the injury. Nor am I saying that anyone that gets hit with a ball should know better. But there are already places where you can watch a baseball game free from the risk of objects flying into the stands. And others where a safety net is already available.
We have to continue to use good judgement, or our ability to judge will disappear. Hanging nets along the dugouts, and down the baselines will eliminate an also-rare moment of joy when a kid makes a connection with a player, who tosses a ball to his outstretched hands over the dugout at the end of an inning. Isn't his experience just as important as keeping another kid from getting hit? Baseball has had a public relations problem for years, from boorish behavior of millionaire players towards fans, to performance-enhancing cheaters. Throw in the Players' strike and you have a lot of ground to make up with your paying fans. Putting up one more barrier is not the answer. That creates a greater gap.
We have become the generation that doesn't accept risk. We've litigated all the fun out of everything. In the future I guess I'll try to find a seat that isn't "protected" from my own ability to ascertain risk/reward, but if you come for my hot dog, there's gonna be a fight.