I was on the first base line at Great American Ballpark on Saturday and a pop fly foul ball came my way, about three rows back and 25-30 feet beyond where we were sitting. It wasn’t caught on the fly. A few moments later I heard some commotion, looked back and saw a girl a little older than my daughter holding her face, her nose bloody. Medical folks came down and with the help of some ice and a towel, she seemed generally OK.
But a lot of people who get hit by foul balls — especially liners as opposed to that pop up in Cincy — aren’t so OK. And that can get into the heads of players, reports Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune, who spoke with some Padres players about it:
“When you are hitting, you are so in the moment,” Denorfia continued. “When you foul one off like that, it changes everything. There’s a deafening silence. You can hear the screams of the fan that’s been hit. It takes you out of what you are doing, changes the perspective.
“It’s hard to continue the at-bat with the focus you originally had.”
We have some great ballparks these days. But the fans are also way closer to the action than ever. I don’t feel like a lot of people who sit down low and close realize how much damage a batted baseball can do.
Athletics president Dave Kaval is ready to take full advantage of the interleague series between the Giants and A’s this season. While the two teams customarily play a few preseason “Battle of the Bay” games each year, they’re also scheduled to meet each other six times during the regular season; once for a three-game set in San Francisco, then for a three-game set in Oakland. On Saturday, Kaval announced that any Giants fans looking to park at the Coliseum this year will be charged $50 instead of the standard, general admission $30 — an additional “rivalry fee” that can be easily waived by shouting, “Go A’s!” at the gate.
This isn’t the first time that a major-league team has tried to keep rival fans at bay, though Kaval doesn’t seem all that intent on actually driving fans away from the ballpark. Back in 2012, the Nationals staged a “Take Back the Park” campaign after people began complaining that Phillies fans were overtaking Nationals Park during rivalry games. They limited a single-series presale of Nats-Phillies tickets to buyers within Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia in hopes of filling the stands with a few more friendly faces. Washington COO Andy Feffer told the press that while he would treat all guests with “respect and courtesy,” he wanted Phillies fans to feel irked enough to pay attention to the Nationals. In the end, things went… well, a little south for all involved.
Whether the Giants are planning any retaliatory measures has yet to be seen, but it’s not as if this is going to be an enforceable rule. The real travesty here, if you’re an A’s fan or just pretending to be one, is that the parking fees have increased from $20 to $30 this season. Unless you’re a season ticket holder with a prepaid $10 parking permit, it’s far better to brave the crowds and take advantage of local public transportation. There are bound to be far fewer irate Giants fans on BART than at the gates — even if the gag only lasts a few days out of the year.