Yankees will expand protective netting for 2018 season

Big League Stew
The Yankees announced that they’ll be extending the protective netting at Yankee Stadium after a toddler was struck by a 105 mph line drive. (AP Photo)
The Yankees announced that they’ll be extending the protective netting at Yankee Stadium after a toddler was struck by a 105 mph line drive. (AP Photo)

The New York Yankees announced on Sunday that they would expand the protective netting at Yankee Stadium, 11 days after a one-year-old girl was struck in the face by a 105-mph line drive.

Here’s what the statement says:

“The New York Yankees announced today that they will significantly expand the protective netting during the upcoming offseason at both Yankee Stadium and George M. Steinbrenner Field.

As previously announced, the Yankees consulted and are continuing to consult with architects, engineers, netting manufacturers and Major League Base ball to analyze and determine the best and most appropriate type of netting, material, color and installation methods. We have also considered comments from our great fans.

While the current protective netting meets the recommended guidelines established by Major League Baseball, the additional protective netting we are planning to install for the 2018 season will exceed the current guidelines established by the Office of the Commissioner of Major League Baseball.”

That it took the Yankees 11 days after the incident to announce this is borderline appalling, especially since the Cincinnati Reds, who didn’t have any such accident at their stadium, announced that they’d be extending the netting at Great American Ballpark just one day after the girl was struck.

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In fact, the Yankees took so long to announce the netting expansion that Geoffrey Jacobson, the father of the injured toddler, decided to speak to the New York Times about his daughter’s injuries in an effort to put pressure on the Yankees to act.

In his recollection of the episode, the father, Geoffrey Jacobson, described the horror of walking into a hospital room to find his daughter, who will turn 2 this week, connected to tubes and machines. Her eyes were swollen shut, she had multiple facial fractures — including those of her orbital bone and nose — and doctors were monitoring the bleeding on her brain, fearing that it might lead to seizures.

And on her forehead, he said, was an imprint left by the stitches of the baseball that hit her.

The interview was released just a few hours after the Yankees made their announcement, but if the Yankees had continued to wait, it’s hard to imagine that this interview wouldn’t have affected the decision-makers inside the organization. But the most important thing is that the Yankees are expanding the netting, and they’re even electing to do the same thing at their spring training facility in Florida.

The Yankees had been under pressure to expand the protective netting at their stadium for some time. In May, New York City Councilman Rafael Espinal Jr. introduced a bill that would require the Yankees and the New York Mets to expand the netting at their stadiums. The Mets elected to expand the netting at Citi Field back in July, and now the Yankees will be following suit.

There really was no way for the Yankees to avoid doing this. A toddler was struck in the head at their stadium, and sustained injuries that she may have to deal with for the rest of her life. Players were in tears on the field. While the ordeal was the catalyst in this situation, expanding the netting is the right thing to do to protect fans. Hopefully other teams won’t need such a tragic incident to spur them to do the same.

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Liz Roscher is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at lizroscher@yahoo.com or follow her on twitter! Follow @lizroscher

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