We’re all sick of A-Rod yet we can’t stop watching

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It’s hard to take issue with the overall thrust of Tyler Kepner’s latest at the New York Times: everyone is sick of A-Rod, but the fact is that we can’t look away:

After all these years with Rodriguez — 10 now, and very slowly counting — we are still talking about tiresome controversies of his making. We are doing so not because we want to, not because we even care much anymore. In the stands, in the clubhouse, in the executive suites, even in the press box — believe me — everyone has an acute case of A-Rod fatigue.

We continue to pay attention for one reason: Alex Rodriguez is spectacularly famous.

There is certainly a disconnect between how much we all say we’re sick of A-Rod and how much attention he is paid. Yankee Stadium was a lot closer to capacity last night than it has been. I bet the TV ratings for last night’s game were higher. The press says it’s sick of covering A-Rod, but the scene at Yankee Stadium last night was pretty nuts: multiple times the usual number of reporters and photographers than is usually on hand. I see the stats for the posts we do about Rodriguez — the posts so many of you in the comments say you’re sick of — and they have substantially higher traffic than most things we’ve been doing lately.

No one particularly likes A-Rod but I don’t think it’s at all accurate to say we have “A-Rod fatigue.” We can’t get enough, for whatever reason. He’s that restaurant Yogi Berra talked about that time: no one goes there anymore; it’s too crowded.

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.