Alfonso Soriano booed heavily in The Friendly Confines

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Here’s something a little uncommon for Wrigley Field. Or anywhere, really. Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com’s CubsTalk describes the scene:

There were two runners on and two outs in the sixth inning when [Alfonso] Soriano hit a rocket line drive at Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks, who appeared to have secured it in his glove. Soriano stood at home plate with the bat in his hands before Middlebrooks dropped the ball and threw to first.

That set off a very loud chorus of boos from the 40,766 fans inside Wrigley Field – and an equally strong and opposite reaction from those inside the clubhouse.

“They don’t understand the game,” Soriano told reporters Saturday after the 4-3 loss to Boston. “It’s a line drive. There’s nothing you can do about it. If it’s groundball and I don’t run, they can do whatever they want. But a hard line drive, right off the glove? I don’t know what they want.”

Soriano signed an eight-year, $136 million deal with Chicago in 2006. He has a weak 110+ OPS ever since.

“Obviously, that contract comes into play sometimes with that kind of reaction,” contended first-year Cubs manager Dale Sveum. “But the fact of the matter is everybody in this clubhouse knows how hard Sori works and how hard he’s played this year. … That’s one of those things where 100 percent of every player in the history of baseball would do the same thing. You’re mad because you just crushed the ball and the guy should have caught (it) and you take your eye off it.” Sveum’s Northsiders are 22-43 this season.

White Sox to extend protective netting to the foul poles

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Recently two more fans suffered serious injuries as the result of hard-hit foul balls at major league games. One of those fans was hurt at a White Sox game at Guaranteed Rate Field earlier this month. In response, the White Sox have taken it upon themselves to do that which Major League Baseball will not require and extend protective netting. From the Chicago Sun-Times:

The White Sox and Illinois Sports Facilities Authority are planning to extend the protective netting at Guaranteed Rate Field down the lines to the foul poles, according to a source.

Exact details will be announced later, but the changes will be made as soon as possible this season.

If recent history holds, they will not be the last team to do it.

Major League Baseball has taken a laissez-faire approach to protective netting over the past several years, requiring nothing even if it has made recommendations to teams to do something. The last time it made a suggestion was in December 2015 when teams were “encouraged” to shield the seats between the near ends of both dugouts and within 70 feet of home plate. In the wake of that recommendation only a few teams immediately extended their netting, primarily because if you ask a business to do something but say it is not required to do anything, it is not likely to do anything.

It would not be until September 2017, after a baby girl was severely injured at Yankee Stadium, that the rest of baseball was inspired to extend protective netting in keeping with MLB’s recommendations. Indeed, it was a land rush, with all 30 teams extending their netting by Opening Day 2018. While a generous interpretation would have everyone seeing the light simultaneously, my slightly more experienced eye saw it as a “don’t be the only team not to have extended netting by the time the next lawsuit hits” approach.

In the wake of the two recent injuries Major League Baseball issued a statement about how it “will keep examining” the matter of additional protective netting while, again, mandating nothing. Now that the White Sox are extending netting to the foul poles, however,  it’s not hard to imagine a situation in which other teams follow suit. Sooner or later, enough will likely have done so to create critical mass and make any team which has not done so to make the effort out of self-preservation.

Or, more generously, good sense.