Several teams have already made the decision to extend protective netting along the baselines and more will surely be doing so by next season. The Cubs, who previously extending netting at both Wrigley Field and Sloan Park prior to the 2018 season, are almost certain to add even more for 2020. According to Bruce Levine of 670 The Score, the club is “in serious discussions with different firms” on adding more netting.
Chicago Cubs in serious discussions with different firms on adding netting for 2020.Trickey angles at Wrigley may lead to creative contouring of new netting .
— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) August 26, 2019
Some of those discussions no doubt revolve around pricing, but logistics are probably the most important factor. Not only will the Cubs want to preserve as much of Wrigley’s historic integrity as possible — I know, video boards and missing bullpens — but Levine notes that the ballpark’s “trickey [sic] angles may lead to creative contouring.”
This news will almost certainly be met with gnashing of teeth and shaking of fists from some villagers, but I will never understand the outrage over additional netting. Then again, you’ll still find people who will explain to you with total earnestness that seat belts aren’t actually effective safety measures. The primary argument against netting is based on the obstruction of views, but the most expensive seats in any ballpark are right behind home.
Some have mentioned a lack of interaction between fans and players, an artificial quandary that is easily solved with retractable netting. There have even been some arguments that the inability to catch a foul ball will sour the experience of attending a game. I’m sorry, but if not catching a foul ball detracts from your experience, what in the hell are you even doing? Go ask anyone who’s spent time at the Little League World Series how much the extensive netting limited their enjoyment.
Perhaps because I’m just another Charmin-soft millennial, I find that my gameday experience is far more negatively impacted by seeing a little girl suffer a fractured skull than from nearly fracturing my hand trying to snag a liner. And since I’m no longer in my athletic prime, my reflexes lack the requisite cat-quickness to barehand a 105 mph liner.
Literally the only foul ball I’ve ever gotten was at a Cubs game in Cincy when Starlin Castro lined one right to me in our seats along the first base line. We were halfway between first base and the outfield wall, but even then I barely had enough time to pivot away and protect the child in lap while reaching back to feel the ball smack off my fingers.
As I was still shaking the feeling back into my left hand, the woman behind us offered the ball — which had ricocheted off of me and then a seat — to my son. I thanked her and we got back to the game, but to this day I still think about how fast that ball got on us and what I’d have done had we been sitting closer. I know, don’t sit that close with your kids, right?
But the game is supposed to be for kids, not for grown-ass men to test their mettle against juiced baseballs traveling faster than ever before. Kids should be the ones down there close to the action, and they should do so without fear of being maimed or worse. Okay, end rant.
As silly as I think it is to oppose additional netting on basic principle, there’s no reason to get riled up about something that now appears inevitable. Like almost all the other changes they’ve made at Wrigley, at least inside, this is probably going to be one of those things no one even notices after a few games.
I’d congratulate the Cubs for making the right choice here, but they’re really just falling in line with the new status quo. Still, it’s a good move and I’m glad they’re making it.