The Toronto Blue Jays announced on Monday morning that, in time for the Blue Jays’ Opening Day game against the New York Yankees, protective netting at the Rogers Centre will be expanded by 150 percent around home plate.
The plans include a dedication to “new state-of-the-art netting” that will minimize visibility annoyances, the Blue Jays’ statement reads.
The new netting will now reach to the outfield side of both dugouts, with the protective netting behind home plate being “increased in height by approximately 10 feet.”
“While the existing protective netting currently meets Major League Baseball’s recommended guidelines, the newly installed netting will now exceed those standards previously established,” the statement read.
Sections 117 to 126 will now have netting in front of their seats.
An increased scrutiny on protective netting at major league ballparks arose during the summer when, at Yankee Stadium, a child was hit in the head with a 105 MPH line drive. Just last week, the New York Yankees released plans for increased protective netting in 2018 after announcing initial plans shortly before the end of the regular season.
In a similar incident, a woman at a Boston Red Sox game at Fenway Park was hit by a broken in June, 2015, taken to a regional hospital in “serious condition.” The injury was so severe that MLB.com published an article stating that the women was “expected to survive.”
The Blue Jays are one of the last teams to expand their protective netting. The Chicago White Sox, Oakland Athletics, Los Angeles Angels, Miami Marlins and Baltimore Orioles have yet to expand netting at their ballparks, although the netting at Angels Stadium already reaches close to the end of each team’s dugout.
While many argue the lack of attention on the ballgame as a reason against expanded netting, in addition to impeded view and lack of souvenirs, Matt Snyder at CBS Sports puts it this way:
We don’t really need to witness someone dying in a ballpark before doing the right thing here, do we? Let’s extend the nets fully to the outfield side of the dugouts and then taper it down to about halfway down the outfield line at a minimum. It doesn’t have much of an affect on the viewing experience but it could well save lives. It’s a no-brainer.
Follow Mark on Twitter: @MarkColley. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.