George Hale raises concerns about the danger of flying objects at MLB games

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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - ONE OF THE GREAT THINGS ABOUT ATTENDING A MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL GAME IS THE CLOSENESS OF THE FANS TO THE PLAYERS.
FANS WEAR THEIR FAVORITE PLAYER JERSEYS, OFTEN CATCHING A FOUL BALL AND GETTING AN AUTOGRAPH BEFORE AND AFTER THE GAME.
BASEBALL, UNLIKE SOME SPORTS, HAS A REAL FAN-PLAYER RELATIONSHIP. IT’S A VERY LONG SEASON AND LOYAL FANS FEEL CLOSE TO THE TEAM AND PLAYERS. SOMETHING AKIN TO BEING IN A FAMILY.

FANS BRING THEIR GLOVES IN CASE THEY CAN CATCH A BALL EVEN THOUGH THE ODDS ARE SMALL.
SO IT’S NOT PRETTY WHEN A LITTLE GIRL IS CARRIED OUT OF THE STANDS AFTER BEING HIT BY A FOUL BALL.
EVEN IF IT WAS A RARE EVENT WE MIGHT BE TEMPTED TO SHAKE IT OFF AS BEING AGAINST THE ODDS.
BUT IT’S NOT.AND THOSE WHO OWN TEAMS AND THOSE WHO PLAY PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL ARE STARTING TO BE CONCERNED.
AND RIGHTFULLY SO.

WHAT I JUST DESCRIBED IS ONLY ONE INSTANCE OF FANS BEING HIT BY FLYING OBJECTS AT A MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL GAME.
FOUL BALLS COME SCREAMING INTO THE STANDS AT OVER 100 MILES PER HOUR.
WOODEN BATS SPLINTER ON A REGULAR BASIS AND END UP IN THE SPECTATOR SECTION.
IT’S NOT UNCOMMON FOR A PLAYER TO LOSE CONTROL OF A BAT AND IT FLIES INTO THE CROWD.
IN 2018 MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL MANDATED THAT ALL CLUBS EXTEND NETTING TO THE ENDS OF THE DUGOUTS IN AN EFFORT
TO CUT DOWN ON FANS BEING INJURED.

MOST RECENTLY THE L-A DODGERS ANNOUNCED A PLAN TO ADD MORE NETTING TO SHIELD FANS AT DODGER STADIUM AFTER A WOMAN WAS HIT IN THE HEAD BY A LINE DRIVE AND HOSPITALIZED.
THE DODGERS ARE THE THIRD TEAM IN RECENT WEEKS TO ANNOUNCE IT WILL ADD NETTING, JOINING THE CHICAGO WHITE SOX AND WASHINGTON NATIONALS.

THE PROTECTIVE NETS WILL EXTEND DOWN THE LEFT AND RIGHT FIELD LINES TO THE FOUL POLE.
LAST AUGUST 79 YEAR OLD LINDA GOLDBLOOM, DIED FOUR DAYS AFTER BEING HIT IN THE HEAD AT DODGER STADIUM.
THERE HAVE BEEN A NUMBER OF INCIDENTS SO FAR THIS SEASON INCLUDING A YOUNG BOY HIT DURING BATTING PRACTICE.
BASEBALL HAS BEEN SLOW TO RESPOND TO THE DANGER BECAUSE THEY ASSUMED THAT FANS WOULDN’T LIKE IT, POINTING OUT THAT IT’S HARD TO WATCH THE GAME THROUGH NETTING. AS WITH SO MANY THINGS IT’S A FALSE PREMISE.

SINCE THE VERY BEGINNING BASEBALL FANS HAVE WATCHED GAMES FROM BEHIND HOME PLATE WHERE NETTING HAS ALWAYS EXISTED.
IN FACT MOST CLUBS SAY THESE SEATS ARE THE MOST POPULAR AND OFTEN CHARGE A HIGHER PRICE FOR THEM.
OFTEN MISSED IN THE ARGUMENT IS THAT MODERN STADIUMS ARE DESIGNED TO GET THE FANS AS CLOSE TO THE GAME AS POSSIBLE.
IN SOME LOCATIONS FOUL TERRITORY IS NOT NEARLY AS DEEP AS IN PREVIOUS GENERATIONS.
LASTLY, THE EXIT VELOCITY OF BATTED BASEBALLS HAS INCREASED TREMENDOUSLY.
IN FACT TV AND RADIO BROADCASTERS NOW USE THE SPEED AND TRAJECTORY AS SOME TYPE OF STATISTIC.
WE KNOW THAT 1,750 MAJOR LEAGUE FANS ARE HURT BY FOUL BALLS EACH YEAR.

AT YANKEE STADIUM LAST YEAR A TODDLER, SITTING WITH HIS GRANDPARENTS WAS HIT IN THE FACE BY A BALL ESTIMATED TO BE TRAVELING 105 MILES PER HOUR. SHE SUFFERED BLEEDING IN THE BRAIN. IT’S A MATTER OF COMMON SENSE AND PHYSICS. PITCHERS THROW HARDER, BATTERS SWING HARDER AND THE MODERN JUICED BASEBALL TRAVELS FASTER AND FARTHER. THERE’S ABSOLUTELY NO EVIDENCE THAT INJURED FANS WERE TEXTING OR NOT PAYING ATTENTION.

IT’S REALLY SIMPLE.
FANS ARE NOT ATHLETES WITH QUICK REFLEXES.
BASEBALL IS A GREAT GAME BUT IT MUST BE MADE SAFER FOR THE FANS.
IT’S THE PLAYERS THEMSELVES WHO ARE MOST IN FAVOR OF THE CHANGE TO FOUL POLE TO FOUL POLE NETTING.
THEY ARE NOT IN THE BUSINESS OF HURTING PEOPLE.
IT’S TIME FOR MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL TO DO MORE FOR BOTH THE FANS AND THOSE WHO PLAY THE GAME.

THIS IS GEORGE HALE WITH MY PERSPECTIVE ON SPORTS.