In the bottom of the first inning against the Rockies, Cody Bellinger smoked a foul ball down the first base line; it hit a fan and Bellinger stood there for about two minutes justifiably concerned about her welfare before resuming his at-bat.
This is another sign that MLB needs to extend its protective netting for the lower bowl — if not all the way from foul pole to foul pole than close. Between the young fans that sit in these seats who can’t fend for themselves and the reality that many spectators spend a lot of time on their phones, it’s really a no-brainer. This was the case even before the most recent scare with Albert Almora.
The Washington Nationals and Chicago White Sox deserve credit for choosing on their own volition to extend protective netting in their stadiums, and the rest of the league needs to follow suit.
There has been conflicting information about the severity of what happened to the fan. The Dodgers’ game broadcast indicated that Bellinger communicated with the fan, who received an ice pack but wanted to remain at Dodger Stadium, while this fan account said the young fan was alert but ultimately stretchered off (in fairness, this could have occurred after the broadcast said she was comparatively okay):
Whatever the case may be, it’s crazy that this is even a debate. The protective netting really doesn’t hurt sight-lines. If it did, the seats behind home plate would not remain the most expensive in the ballpark. It’s hard to come up with a reason not to expand the netting other than that fans like catching foul balls, but this is overtly a case where the risk exceeds the reward.
UPDATE: The AP reports the fan was taken to the hospital.