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Red Sox to extend protective netting at Fenway Park

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The Sox take another step for fan safety

Tampa Bay Rays v Boston Red Sox Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Over the last couple of years, it’s been fairly clear where baseball’s priorities have been. Pace of play, of course, has been a major one. Some would probably even argue that it’s been far too much of a focus for commissioner Rob Manfred, and to say the least there are fairly strong opinions on both sides of the debate. We’re not talking about that today, though. Today, we’re talking about another topic in which baseball has been trying to address in recent years and one on which people have plenty of opinions. We’re talking about fan safety, as the Red Sox are joining many others around the league in extending protective netting farther down the foul line.

As Kennedy puts it, the changes are expected to be dramatic, although the specifics haven’t been released just yet. This isn’t the first time the team is going to extend the netting at the park, but they are planning to take things to another level this year. Specifically, Kennedy mentions a plan to extend things down to section 79 on the third base side and to section 9 on the first base side. Essentially, it means the nets are going to stretch down to the corners where the foul line meets the walls.

There are certainly some people who are going to have an issue with this new addition to Fenway Park, as there are always people who are going to fight this kind of change. These people will argue that the netting will take away from the ability to see the game as clearly as before. They will argue that it takes away chances to catch a foul ball. They will argue that if people are worried about getting hit with a foul ball they just need to pay attention.

These people are wrong. There is likely a small bit of truth to each of their arguments, but not nearly enough to outweigh the benefit of preventing people from getting hit by line drives off the bats of major-league players. The view may be a tiny bit obstructed, but you get used to sitting behind a net within minutes. There’s a reason seats behind home plate have always been the most popular. And if you are someone who really doesn’t like nets, you are more than welcome to sit in the outfield. Your personal preferences don’t take precedent over the general public’s safety. As for the foul ball thing, again, the extremely slight chance at catching a foul ball is not more important than people’s safety. As for the paying attention thing, well, this one is just bananas. If you honestly think that simply paying attention is enough to protect someone from 100+ mph line drives from major-league hitters, well I really don’t know what to tell you.

In the end, it doesn’t really make a difference if people don’t like the nets because they are coming either way. The Red Sox are joining many other teams around the league in this, and in fact the league office has offered to help any club who would like to extend their netting. As for Fenway, well, it’s not entirely clear what the final result will be but some sort of extension is coming.