Chicago Cubs will protect fans by extending nets – which should be unnecessary

Is it ultimately a good thing to protect people too foolish to protect themselves?

Sometimes, it is decided that people need to be saved from their own inability to protect themselves.

Such is the case at Wrigley Field where the Cubs will string protective netting beyond where the old bullpens used to be because people are seemingly incapable of shielding themselves from foul balls.

According to a study by ESPN’s Outside the Lines, 510 fans required assistance after being hit by foul balls at Wrigley Field from 2015-2019.  That’s a little bit over one injury per game because fans were looking at their smart phones, talking to each other, or otherwise distracted from the infield action.

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There is also the chance that young children were hit because parents prioritized sitting close to the field over the desire to protect their kids.  Maybe adults unwisely dropped the kids in seats closer to the batter than they were so it was difficult to catch or deflect foul balls before they struck the youngsters.

Whatever the case, it seems personal responsibility is taking a holiday at Wrigley and other major league ballparks.

I have no problem with netting behind the plate – or even extending it to the dugouts.  I’m a fairly adroit former ballplayer, and I’ve nearly been drilled on a number of occasions while sitting in the first couple of rows at Wrigley and Riverfront Stadium.  I’m glad I wasn’t hit, but it would never occur to me that it was someone else’s fault had I been hit.

That’s how our society has evolved – responsibility always lies elsewhere.  Nothing is our own fault anymore.

On the many afternoons my son and I spent at Wrigley before he was old enough to fend off foul balls for himself, we sat in the upper deck, way down the line, or the bleachers, and I always sat in the seat toward home plate so I could easily intercept the ball before it reached him.

I actually caught a foul ball during batting practice prior to a Cubs vs. Mets game while two-year-old Ryan was perched on my shoulders.  Utilityman Tim Teufel curled a line drive around the end of the cage toward the Cubs bullpen.  We were roughly where Steve Bartman sat during that fateful Game Six in 2003, and I reached over the brick wall to snag the ball.  Ryan was parallel to the ground when I caught it, but I had a hold of his ankles, so all’s well that ended well.

Had the ball hopped up and hit Ryan in the head, I would still feel terrible about it.  But I wouldn’t have blamed the Cubs for allowing me to put Ryan in a position to be struck.  That would have been 100% on me.

The point is that people need to accept responsibility for their own stupidity once in a while, or we will assume that nothing bad is our own fault.

Major League Baseball and the Cubs are making it a little tougher for life to hold us accountable for being a dope.  The result will be roughly 500 fewer bruises and breaks over the next five years, and a fanbase who sees their security as someone else’s concern.

Not sure whether society wins in that bargain.

27 thoughts on “Chicago Cubs will protect fans by extending nets – which should be unnecessary

    1. John

      We can’t do that because we have been dragged down by the entitlement mindset of the left. You are absolutely correct. The left refuses to take responsibility for their own lives and decisions and are constantly looking to blame someone else and sue. We used to be a country of workers and winners. We are now a country of whiners and losers.

      1. DeathByBlondie

        Stop talking about sports and politics! When will the left really understand that all our problems are in the wussification of sports, and minorities standing up for their rights?!? Am-I-right? We really need the keyboard warriors with their outdated Boomer plans to tell us why ignoring safety and social issues makes us stronger, because nothing will straighten out Johnny Tree Hugger like a 120mph leather death ball to the dome. Take a knee? No sir! you stand up for what’s right! Outdated opinions no one under 60 cares to hear.

    2. Tony Dunford

      Dude… You are a moron. If MLB can make the game safer for fans, it should.

      What a dope. I don’t want to see crap like this on Bleacher Report.

    3. Rob MacKnight

      Asinine sentiments. The little girl hit by a Cub on the road last season reportedly has permanent injuries. Thanks for sharing.

    4. Robb Louk

      You need to go back and do your homework so you avoid embarrassing yourself. Not only do the Cubs have the ultimate responsibility to protect their fans, when parents or the fans themselves fail to do so, this is about protecting the players as well. Ask Albert Almora, Jr. how he feels about knowing that there is a girl with a permanent brain injury resulting from his bat.

      Glad you are capable of protecting yourself, now go back to whatever hole you crawled out of.

  1. John

    We can’t do that because we have been dragged down by the entitlement mindset of the left. You are absolutely correct. The left refuses to take responsibility for their own lives and decisions and are constantly looking to blame someone else and sue. We used to be a country of workers and winners. We are now a country of whiners and losers.

  2. Joe

    Kent, you really should watch the HBO “Real Sports” segment on protective netting. It might change your view. They show that it is next to impossible for anyone to avoid particularly hard hit balls aimed directly at them. Paying close attention doesn’t help at all in some cases.
    MLB also actively encourages fans to look away from the action (video scoreboards, in-game phone app promotions, etc.)
    It’s not a matter of fans shirking personal responsibility. That part of your analysis sounds more like you wanting to claim

  3. Josh

    Players that are trained to catch balls coming at them 100 mph still get hurt. How can you expect fans to be able to avoid foul balls that are 100+ mph?

  4. Mike

    Extending the nets beyond the dugouts is ridiculous for fans that are to stupid to protect themselves and stair at stupid cell phones the whole game are idiots to. I almost got drilled in a Pirates BP at old Riverfront Stadium once down the right field line. I saw the ball coming but it was on me so fast. And I WAS paying attention! Next thing I heard was boom, boom, boom! The ball missed me by 2 SEATS. I did get the ball. It has an indention in it where it hit a bolt in the seat. Its pretty surreal. But hey, I got lucky but I was paying ATTENTION! STILL I SAY FUCK THE NETS!

  5. 😒

    Exactly!!! There are sharks in the ocean, but people still swim there right? There are hundreds of car crashes every day, but people still drive. When you sit in foul ball range, you assume a small risk for the enjoyment of watching the game from up close. Those unwilling to assume that risk should sit in the upper deck.

    Safety and fun are opposite ends of a spectrum. With 100% safety, the world is just not enjoyable anymore. We need to find a delicate balance, but instead, a few people embody the “safety, safety, everywhere at any cost” viewpoint and people actually believe that crap.

    I am 17 years old and most people my age agree so there goes your lame argument that this is an “outdated boomer opinion”

    1. Jade

      @ 😒 Lets take your logic here. There are 16 shark bites per year so little safety features are provided. There are hundreds of car crashes every day and therefore there are tons of safety features in each car, even car crash tested. At baseball games, there are 2 fan injuries per 3 games from being hit….so you want to add no safety features.. Hmm.. doesnt add up logically.

  6. Michael F Hansen

    You must only be pointing your subject and comments to the adult in the crowd. I guess it would work if only adults attended and no women or children came to the games or even the elderly. What is left would be approximately 3 to 5 thousand fans per game. You really got upset about NOTHING. At 78 and a Cubs Fan for longer than you have lived, please write something sensible or actually useful.

  7. Jade

    @ Kent Sterling: You realize you are talking about a small, hard object that is travelling over at least 100 MPH? You can be watching the game intensely and EASILY miss a ball “line drived” towards you. This is for the safely of all individuals, not just children. Having the experiences of sitting behind home plate, you dont even notice the nets when you are focused on the game. Seems like not wanting nets boils down to pure selfishness. Kudos to the Cubs!

  8. Matt

    If you go to a game with your wife and she gets hit by a foul ball, are you going to call her a dope who takes no responsibility for her actions?


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