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All 30 teams will have extended protective netting by Opening Day

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Yesterday the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Tampa Bay Rays announced that they would join the parade of other teams who, in the past several months, have announced plans to extend protective netting to the far end of each dugout. With that, all 30 teams will have done so, Major League Baseball just announced.

Major League Baseball did not require them to do so. Rather, in December 2015, Major League Baseball announced a recommendation that clubs extend the netting, coupled with a “fan education” initiative about the dangers of flying balls. I and many others criticized these measures as (a) inadequate; and (b) geared more toward liability avoidance on the part of the league and its clubs than toward the best practices to improve safety measures. While a handful of clubs followed the recommendations in 2016 and 2017, for nearly two years those recommendations were, quite predictably, ignored by most clubs. It seemed it would take a fan being killed or a high-profile instance of a fan being severely injured by a foul ball in order to motivate clubs to make a change.

Seems that was true, because the tipping point on the netting came when a toddler was severely injured by a foul ball at a Yankees game late last season. It was in the wake of that incident that clubs changed their mind on the matter and began, one after another, to implement the changes.

It’s a shame that it took a child receiving multiple facial fractures and bleeding on the brain in order to make clubs come to their senses on this matter, but it’s good that they, finally, have come to their senses.

Brewers’ and Dodgers’ benches empty after Manny Machado and Jesús Aguilar get into it

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The Brewers and Dodgers haven’t had much action in Game 4 of the NLCS, bringing a 1-1 game through 10 innings and about four and a half hours. We finally got something to get the blood pumping, though, when Dodgers shortstop Manny Machado and Brewers first baseman Jesús Aguilar exchanged some words with each other, prompting both teams’ benches to spill onto the field.

With one out, Machado grounded a 3-1, 95 MPH fastball to shortstop Orlando Arcia, who made an easy throw to first base to complete the out. Machado, running the play out, dragged his left leg, slamming it into Aguilar’s leg as he crossed the bag, causing himself to stumble momentarily. Machado went back and jawed at Aguilar like it was his fault.

Machado has not had the best press in the NLCS. He failed to run out a grounder in Game 2, then made a couple of slides in Game 3 that attempted to interfere with Arcia at the second base bag. He was called for interference on the second one. Machado hasn’t earned the benefit of the doubt for his actions tonight.

It’s difficult to imagine Machado’s behavior during the NLCS will affect his windfall as a free agent this offseason, but he’s proving to be somewhat of a distraction for a team trying to get back to the World Series. And that’s not good.