Big League Stew - MLB

After hitting his mother with a foul ball earlier this week, it isn't surprising that Denard Span(notes) is talking about extending the netting that protects fans behind home plate.

OK, so he's only bringing this up because a family member was hit, but I think it'd be a mistake if we just dismissed what could be a valuable discussion because of that.

After all, changes need to start somewhere and are we really going to wait for someone to be hurt much more seriously than Denard's mother to get going on it? 

As Span says himself, it's amazing — and probably even incredibly lucky — that baseball hasn't had to endure the death of a fan like the NHL did with young Brittanie Cecil in 2002. Rare is the baseball game that doesn't feature at least one screamer hit into the stands and now the projectiles increasingly include shards of maple bats. Minor league coach Mike Coolbaugh died in 2007 after being struck with a line drive and he was a lot farther away from home plate than some fans behind the dugout.

The question, of course, is how far you extend the netting. Balls can still do a lot of damage to the people in the seats beyond the far end of the dugout.

There's also the issue of the team's highest-priced seats being obstructed with an extension, which is undoubtedly why many teams might be hesitant to propose such a change.

But hockey teams said the same things when netting was mandated behind the goals in each NHL arena and now no one even notices it. With what's at stake, shouldn't we at least be considering more protection in baseball? What do you think?

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