I don’t pretend to be the foremost authority on, well, anything. I know what I know and I like what I like and you can either agree with me or disagree with me it’s no sweat off my brow (Although I will most likely argue with you if you start to complain about Sweet Caroline being played at Fenway.)
Having written that, what the hell with the people who are complaining about the extended netting at Fenway Park?
(Before I start this rant I feel compelled to mention that Stephen King is my favorite author and the inspiration for many things I’ve written that none of you have read. If you can adore someone you don’t know at all, I adore him. But I feel like he’s wrong here. Wrong, wrong, wrong.)
Prior to yesterday, those of you who don’t have a “Fenway Park” Google alert might not have been aware that the extended the netting that is behind home plate at the park. It stretches from home pate and reaches to each of the dugouts (but doesn’t go beyond them – meaning there is no protective netting in front of folks sitting behind the dugout). The netting behind home plate also goes above the head of the fans. The new netting doesn’t. Basically, they’ve made it so foul balls and errant bats aren’t going to smack the face of anyone who happens to be sitting in the expensive seats.
Call me kooky, but I think this is a great idea.
Stephen King doesn’t agree.
“There are questions inherent in the decision to net, and I think they’re bigger than baseball,” King wrote. “Like when does protection become overprotection? Is the safety of a fan at a public event like a baseball game the responsibility of the organization putting on that event? (According to the back of every MLB ticket sold, the fan is responsible.) When do safety precautions begin to steal away the pure joy of being there?“
As I wrote above, if you attended a game at Fenway prior to 2016 and sat behind home plate, there was protective netting in front of and above you. So the protection factor for the fans isn’t new. The Red Sox didn’t just suddenly decide it was important to protect the fans, they just decided to try and increase that protection. And, yes, I believe it IS the responsibility of the team to try and ensure fan safety.
And to answer King’s main question, yes, I believe it IS the responsibility of the team to try and ensure fan safety.
I’m curious as to what part of the “pure joy” of being at a ball game is stolen away by having netting blocking a ball or bat from flying at you? Being able to catch a foul ball? There are plenty of other seats in the park where you can do that. (Point of interest: King reportedly turned down the Red Sox offer of changing his seats to a place where there was no netting.)
I was fortunate enough to watch the game from behind home plate yesterday. Netting in front and above me. Hell, I watched the Red Sox lose the Fenway opener in the ninth inning and I still had a ridiculously good time at the park. A loss AND netting? How did I persevere?
The baseball gods and some very generous friends have seen to it that I’ve had the opportunity to sit in some very good seats at Fenway. I’ve been in the seats around where King’s season tickets are many times. I promise you, no one tries to pay better attention to what is going on at the game than I do, especially when I’m in seats where there is a chance of getting hit by a ball or bat.
I do not want to get hit by a ball or bat. I really don’t.
(If my life were like The Truman Show and there was a camera following me 24/7 you all would see how many times I’ve chosen to dive away from a ball that ended up not being anywhere near me.)
I try to watch every pitch, every swing, to track the ball and make sure its path isn’t directly to my face. If someday I get hit by a bat or ball and some jackass on WEEI says it was because I wasn’t paying attention you all have my permission to kick the crap out of him. (You have more than my permission. Consider it a request.)
But the fact is, you CAN’T possibly pay attention to everything that is going on in a game all at the same time. I’m fond of watching the pitcher, which means I often miss the actual swing and then lose where the ball is going. I know plenty of people who watch the infielders to see how they’re positioned or who are watching the base runners to see if someone is about to steal. Everyone watches the game differently. It doesn’t mean they aren’t paying attention it just means they’re paying attention to something that maybe you aren’t paying attention to.
Do I deserve a bloody face because I’m focused on the pitcher’s mound instead of home plate?
And let’s be honest, there is other stuff going on as well. Maybe you brought your kid to the park?? Maybe someone else brought a kid to the park? Kids distract you, even if they don’t mean to. They make noise, they kick you, they yell for no reason. A mother doesn’t deserve to be taken out on a stretcher because she turned her head from the game to check on her child. A man doesn’t deserve a bloody hand because he had to shield a kid from a foul ball coming her way.
We pay a lot of money to go enjoy baseball in the park. The least the teams can do, the very least, is make sure they’ve done everything they can to ensure our safety.
Which is what the Red Sox are trying to do and I welcome it.
Yesterday I sat in that “cage” Stephen King wrote of and I still enjoyed myself immensely. I suspect if he gives it a try he will as well.