Putting an end to every argument against extending protective nets in MLB stadiums

A young girl was struck in the face at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday afternoon and was taken to a local hospital. After the game, several players from both the Twins and Yankees called for the protective netting seen behind home plate to be extended further down the base lines

They are 100 percent correct and I'm here to tell you why you should blow any argument against such a measure out of the water. 

"Pay attention!"

Get out of here with this nonsense, you faux-tough guy. On this particular situation, let's offer this up: 

Watch the play. Frazier had to have hit that thing over 100 mph. The fan here would be forced to react in a split-second to a small orb going over 100 mph while hooking sideways. Some MLB players wouldn't make that play without a glove. Many wouldn't, actually. 

We've seen players in dugouts struck. Dugouts also have protection in front of them, unlike the seats directly above. Remember when Braves coach and former MLB infielder Luis Salazar lost his eye due to a screaming liner a few years ago in spring training? He was in the dugout. You want to yell at him about paying attention? 

How about pitchers like Brandon McCarthy or Alex Cobb who were nailed in the head by line drives? Were they not paying attention? You want to tell them they needed to do better at paying attention instead of looking at their phones? 

Also, the Internet Tough Guy yelling about people not paying attention is completely naive about the circumstances at play. Suppose someone is in the third row and while a 100 mph liner is coming directly at them, the people in front of them move into their line of vision. A few years ago I offered up this argument regarding being at a game with my then-8-year-old son: 

I took my kids to a minor-league game about a month ago and we didn't realize until we got there that the seats were three rows behind the third-base dugout. We weren't covered by the net. I spent the game about halfway in front of my son's seat whenever a lefty came to the plate. I was paying attention, but I'm also a human being. What if he says "Daddy, what's that?" and I instinctively look to where he's pointing right as a man hits a ball 100 miles per hour right at us. What if I just don't have enough reaction time to get in front of a ball and miss it with my hand? What if, as mentioned above, someone crosses in front of my line of vision of the ball at the last instant? You want to scream about how bad a human being I am over that? Seriously, that's where we are?  

Yes, Matt from 2015, that's still where lots of fans ill-informed about the subject are. 

It's not just paying attention and everyone with a brain knows it. Check out the "HBO Real Sports" segment on reaction time and these people know the ball is coming directly at them, not sitting there for 3 1/2 hours never knowing which ball might be the one. 

Again, these people knew the ball was coming at them and didn't have other people in front of them. 

You cannot possibly with a straight face believe that "paying attention" protects you from getting hit with a 100 mph line drive when people are moving around in your line of vision. No chance. 

"But obstructed view!"

Have you ever actually watched a game from behind the net? If you have and you actually claim that it does anything to greatly diminish the viewing pleasure of the game, you are lying to yourself and others. It doesn't. You barely even notice it, except when it saves you from being torched in the head by a line drive. 

A few years ago I even brought up people watching their kids play Little League through chain link fences. You can see everything just fine and that's far more intrusive than the netting used by MLB. 

If you haven't watched a game from behind the protective netting any time recently and think it's intrusive to the viewing experience, I encourage you to give it another shot. It's really fine, especially with the extra peace of mind when you are with young children. 

UPDATE: A few of my Twitter friends provided me with these shots. Look how unaffected the view from behind the netting is: 

Get real on the "obstruction," guys. 

"I want a souvenir!" 

OK, so getting a foul ball is much more important than protecting young children from taking a line drive to the face? Is that where we want to place our priorities? 

I'll give you that many fans find it quite a thrill. You'll still have plenty of chances to get foul balls that are pop-ups over the top of the nets, just as we've seen happening over the current nets for decades. Or you can elect to sit in the outfield and get there during batting practice. Your odds heavily increase then. 

'The players don't have to view the game through nets'

I saw this utterly embarrassing argument on Twitter earlier. First off, they do from the dugout. Secondly, they are players and it's their job. They know the risks and they are the best in the world at what they do. They also don't have obstructions to deal with like the fans and get to maneuver the field instead of being stuck in a seat with people surrounding them. And, again, we see pitchers get hit in the head as they are unable to react in quick enough time to avoid it. 

'You don't have to go'

This is 100 percent true. Fans can choose to stay home instead of attending games, but shouldn't MLB teams be in the business of making things more fan-friendly? Plus, a lot of times you can't really tell exactly if you are behind the nets or not when you purchase tickets and only find out when you get there. See the story about myself and my son above. 

Protecting the fans is much more important than telling them they have the option to stay home. 

'Wussification of society!' 

Get a life. Every single aspect of life doesn't have to be a referendum on society. When cars started to put in seat belts, was it wussification? Wearing helmets on a motorcycle? How about when airports started to put in much heavier security measures? 

Things evolve with time. It's not a great travesty. The people who would go crazy down this route of argument are people who just like to complain about everything. I refuse to get off their lawn here. 

Look, players are bigger and stronger than ever. The ball is juiced, too, and with a confluence of all these factors, players hit the ball harder today than ever before. Along with that, we also have shattered bat debris getting up into crowds and the nets can help with that, too. 

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. 

CBS Sports Writer

Matt Snyder has been a baseball writer with CBS Sports since 2011. A member of the BBWAA, he's now covered the last six World Series beginning with the epic 2011 Fall Classic. The former Indiana University... Full Bio

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