Grand slam gives Chase Headley the NL RBI lead

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The Padres play in the game’s toughest ballpark for hitters and they entered the day ranked 26th of the 30 major league teams in runs scored, but they now have the NL RBI leader after Chase Headley hit a grand slam Sunday in an 8-2 win over the Diamondbacks.

Headley, whose previous career high in RBI was 64, moved past Ryan Braun into the league lead with 102 RBI. If he can hold on to it, he’d be just the second Padre to lead the league in RBI (Dave Winfield, 1979).

Headley is the 13th different Padre to amass 100 RBI in a season. Other than Adrian Gonzalez, who did it three times (100 in 2007, 119 in 2008 and 101 in 2010), no Padre had reached 100 RBI since Phil Nevin in 2004.

Today’s bomb was his 27th, so Headley also has a shot at becoming the 12th different Padre to reach 30 homers in a season. Gonzalez did that four times. Besides Gonzalez, the last two do it were Nevin and Ryan Klesko in 2001.

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.