Report: Players requested more protective netting, but were denied by owners

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A fan suffered life-threatening injuries when she was struck by a broken bat shard during a game between the Athletics and Red Sox at Fenway Park on Friday night. In the aftermath, there has been increasing demand for additional protective netting that would extend beyond where it is now, behind home plate and slightly to each side.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that players have requested additional protective netting when negotiating the collective bargaining agreement the last two times in 2007 and 2012, but were rebuffed by the owners. The request called for the netting to extend down the foul lines, even to the foul pole.

Players union representative Brad Ziegler, a reliever for the Diamondbacks, commented:

“Some owners are afraid to upset the fans that pay some of the highest ticket prices, when in reality, it’s an effort to protect those very fans,” said Diamondbacks reliever Brad Ziegler, a member of the negotiating committee for the players’ union.

“(The owners) seem afraid that fans will lose access to the players – autographs, getting baseballs, etc. — and that will cause those ticket holders to be unhappy. Or, that they’d have to watch the game through a net. (But) fans behind home plate pay the highest prices, have the same issues, and yet those seats are always full.”

Unfortunately, the injury suffered by the fan at Fenway Park on Friday may be the impetus needed to seriously tackle the issue of fan safety.

Giants hire Gabe Kapler as new manager

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The Giants announced on Tuesday the hiring of Gabe Kapler as manager. Kapler, filling the extremely large shoes of future Hall of Famer Bruce Bochy, inked a three-year deal, Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area reports. Kapler was one of three finalists for the job, beating out Astros bench coach Joe Espada and Rays bench coach Matt Quataro.

Following his 12-year playing career, Kapler was a coach for Israel’s team in the 2013 World Baseball Classic qualifier. He then became an analyst for FS1 before joining the Dodgers’ front office as the director of player development in November 2014. He was involved in three scandals there: one in which he tried to handle a sexual assault incident involving two Dodgers minor league players without telling police, one in which he allegedly discriminated against Nick Francona, a veteran and former baseball operations employee, and an incident that implicated most of the Dodgers’ front office concerning the recruiting of international free agents. The Dodgers reportedly kept a spreadsheet of employees and their level of criminality.

Despite Kapler’s background, the Phillies hired him as their manager ahead of the 2018 season. He would lead the Phillies to an 80-82 record that year and then helped them improve by one game in 2019, finishing at exactly .500 before being fired. Kapler’s tenure in Philly was tumultuous, often drawing ire from the local media and subsequently the fan base for not being tough enough on his players. The Phillies also reportedly had a clubhouse issue in 2018 in which players were playing video games in the clubhouse during games, prompting Carlos Santana to smash a TV with a bat.

Kapler has a history with Farhan Zaidi, the Giants’ president of baseball operations. They worked together in the Dodgers’ front office as Zaidi served as GM from November 2014-18.