The Washington Nationals have announced that they will be extending the netting down the first and third base lines to improve fan safety.
This comes in response to an incident that occurred last month when Cubs outfielder Albert Almora Jr. hit a line drive into the stands that hit a young girl in the head at Minute Maid Park in Houston. The girl had to be transported to the hospital for her injuries.
The current netting already extends from home plate to the end of each dugout on the third and first base side. The Nationals plan to add netting all the way down to the cut ins on both foul lines. The project will be completed over the all-star break.
Mark Lerner and the Nationals organization released a statement to the public about the netting extension that reads:
“Dear Nationals Fans:
Today, we announced additional protective netting will be installed at Nationals Park during the All-Star break. Ultra Cross Knotless Dyneema protective netting will be installed, replacing the existing netting, and extend to just short of the right and left field corners (see graphic above). Knotless netting offers a higher degree of transparency than the traditional knotted netting. The netting will be designed so that certain sections over each dugout can be raised pregame to foster fan interactions with players.
Over the past few weeks, we have seen several fans injured by bats and balls leaving the field of play at other stadiums. I could not help but become emotional last month watching the Astros-Cubs game when a four-year-old little girl was hit by a line drive. I can’t imagine what her parents must have felt in that moment. And to see the raw emotion and concern from Albert Almora Jr. was heartbreaking. Further extending the netting at Nationals Park will provide additional protection for our fans.”
Many embraced the Nationals decision to extend the netting. One fan wrote on Twitter that the netting extension “opens up many more options to bring the family.”
Other fans were displeased with the Nationals announcement with some saying that it makes it more difficult to watch the games. Other critics say that fans who sit in the first few rows won’t be able to grab a foul ball that rolls down either the first or third base lines.
“I hate this,” one Nats fan wrote on Twitter. “Boo. I understand it though. But part of the joy of a baseball game is getting a ball and in lower rows that just went away.”
Hopefully, the netting won’t affect the sideline so that Nats fans can enjoy the game no matter which side of the issue they’re on. The next extension we see from the Nats should hopefully be an Anthony Rendon extension before or during the all-star break.