Schmuck: Orioles get it right with plan to extend netting, but it won't please everybody

The Orioles have revealed their plan to extend the protective netting in front of field-level seats at Camden Yards beyond the two dugouts, and they should be applauded for that even if the decision won’t be universally well-received by season-ticket holders in that area.

I’ve written on this subject in the past and the feedback I got from fans about the prospect of having to look through a net while sitting in some of the best — and most expensive — seats in the house was mixed.

Lots of fans are willing to take the risk and they’ve been doing so all over America for the past 150 years, but both the nature of the game and the behavior of the modern fans make the netting expansion a no-brainer.

Players are bigger. Baseballs appear to be livelier. Bats shatter more often.

At the same time, more and more fans are looking down at their mobile devices while the game is in progress, making them — and their children — more vulnerable to being badly injured by a screaming foul ball or a spear-sharp bat shard.

Team physician Dr. William Goldiner has long been a strong proponent of making this change and so have many Orioles executives, coaches and players. Apparently, it took this long to make the announcement because the Orioles and some other teams had been waiting for a Major League Baseball-wide directive from the commissioner’s office.

Don’t know what changed this week, but the Orioles, Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels all announced over a 24-hour period their intention to extend their safety netting.

“I think it’s terrific,” Goldiner said in a telephone interview Wednesday afternoon. “I think it’s really something Major League Baseball should have long ago required. I think all the stadiums should be done that way. For the safety of the fans, that’s the way to go. It’s fantastic news.”

The Orioles went a step further, announcing that they will also extend nets at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, Fla., in time for the start of the 2018 exhibition season.

The new netting will not completely reduce the risk of injury in the stands, but it definitely will reduce the likelihood of the kind of dangerous facial and head injuries that have become more common over the past decade.

It is, indeed, great news.

peter.schmuck@baltsun.com

twitter.com/SchmuckStop

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