Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Protect the Fans!

Last night I was watching multiple sporting events concurrently, really the only civilized way to do it.  I go to the two TV offense, which may evolve into a home sports bar type three TV offense.

- NBA playoff game: San Antonio v. Oklahoma City (Try finding two small markets in the MLB semi-finals)

- Mets v. Phillies

- Red Sox v. Verlander and Detroit

- later Yankees at wherever the Angels currently claim as home.

While cruising past the Red Sox game at Fenway Park I noticed that a man sitting in what is generally considered to be one of the best seats, near a dugout, had apparently been hit by a foul ball struck by Prince Fielder of Detroit.  There was some concern and the injured person was helped away for medical attention.

We've seen this many times.  So why don't we take corrective action, the type that would be considered basic common sense in any normal context.  Why isn't MLB considered negligent for not making its ball parks more safe for fans?  Why doesn't some municipality take action?  Why don't fans sue?

About 11-12 years ago Yankee coach Don Zimmer, about 70 at the time, was hit in the head by a batted ball while sitting in the dugout, I think during a World Series game; Zimmer was not seriously injured.  The Yankee players made fun of it my fashioning a military style helmet for Zimmer to wear in subsequent games.

MLB took action.  After 100 years of neglect it erected screened fences in front of all dugouts in MLB parks.  This was to protect those in the dugouts, most of whom are or were world class athletes.  However, no such protection was extended to the fans sitting in the same area.

Maybe someone can corroborate this but I seem to recall that a Japanese ball park in which the Yankees opened the regular season about a decade ago had the protective screen behind home plate extend down each line, maybe to the foul poles but I cannot recall.  MLB needs to do that.  Extend that screen as far as is necessary to protect fans who are unable or unwilling to protect themselves and   to protect minor children who cannot make informed decisions.

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