Baltimore Orioles: What can be done about fan safety?


Like all companies and businesses, the Baltimore Orioles and the rest of MLB have a duty to enhance their customer experience in anyway they can. One of the most basic manners of doing this is probably to ensure a safe environment for customers – in this case, fans. There’s one aspect of the MLB experience that has recently come under scrutiny across sports.

There have been many players over the years, including the Orioles’ Brian Roberts, who have advocated for netting to extend from beyond the home plate area and down the base lines. Some even say that it should go all the way to the foul pole. And the reason for people thinking this is certainly understandable; as an example, there have been two incidents where fans have been seriously injured this year at Fenway Park alone.

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  • I would submit that this sounds like a no-brainer in a sense. But it might not be as cut-and-dry as people think. I’ll be very honest in that I’m not in favor of extending netting down the lines. Admittedly there is an element of this is how it’s always been in my personal view. However also keep in mind that the number of times people are being hit still isn’t very high. It’s a rare occurance.

    So part of my point is that baseball should manage to the rule – not the exception. Most people pay money to sit in those seats for specific reasons – to be close to the game. Granted they’re still close to the game if there’s netting, but I do think that it might take away from that exerience. The netting sounds like a petty aspect, however I’m not sure that we can really know what effect it would have until it’s done – and once it’s done, it’s here to stay.

    Jul 28, 2015; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles outfielder Chris Davis (19) waits on deck during the game against the Atlanta Braves at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

    However here’s the other point; does it not feel like this is starting to happen more of late? Back in the 1920’s, ’30’s, etc, did balls not get fouled off of bats and go screaming into the stands? Mind you, we aren’t talking about foul pops; we’re talking about a ball that comes squarely off the bat and goes on a line into the stands with no rise. Again, did that not happen years ago?

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    Maybe guys are extending at-bats by fouling balls off nowadays. However in general, what’s changed about society that’s intangible but major since that time? The answer is actually right in front of our faces – cell phones. We all have one, and we’re all on them non-stop. There’s no denying it folks…admit it, you do it also! So could this be a case where people just need to pay attention more?

    If you’re sitting in a seat right down the base line like that, you take your eye off the game at your own peril. Nowadays people are always working their phones on facebook, twitter, etc, during games. Heck, I’m about as active on twitter during Orioles’ games as anyone. Not only that, but in the age of fantasy sports and so forth, people are always checking things like that. And don’t forget ye ol’ work email that could come through during a game.

    So am I blaming the victims here? Not as much as you might think. I’m just saying that people need to be aware of their surroundings. If you’re way in the upper deck and you’re working your phone, that’s one thing. But if you’re down the line where it’s impossible for a ball to get any rise to it, you’re really taking your eyes off the game at your own risk.

    So maybe instead of netting MLB should employ the use of signage reminding people that they need to pay attention. Oriole Park at Camden Yards has signs at the entrance of every section warning to beward of batted balls. But maybe something along the lines of please don’t take your eyes off the game would be in line. That along with perhaps PSA’s read by players and coaches on Diamondvision reminding fans that they need to pay attention.

    That probably won’t do the job 100% of the time. However I’d hate to see the game lose just a small bit of it’s charm due to something like this. Granted times change; however that doesn’t mean that everything in the world has to be a part of and participate in that change.

    Next: Baltimore Orioles: In memory of the great Mike Flanagan

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