Child apparently injured after being struck by line drive in Houston

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Cubs outfielder Albert Almora hit a line drive foul into the stands just beyond the netting at Minute Maid Park in the fourth inning of Wednesday night’s game against the Astros. The ball appeared to strike a small child, who had to be carried out of the stands to receive medical attention.

Almora was visibly shaken from the incident, taking time to get back into the batter’s box. In between innings, per MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart, Almora spoke with the security guard near the area of the stands where he hit the foul ball to get an update on the situation. Almora appeared to be visibly weeping.

The child is expected to be fine, thankfully, according to Sportstalk 790.

Once again, Major League Baseball needs to mandate that protective netting be extended the full length down each foul line. It is good that netting has been extended at all 30 parks, but as tonight’s incident shows, it is still not enough. It’s not fair to the fans, many of which are young children, and it’s not fair to the players who have to live with inadvertently injuring fans.

Update: After the game, Almora said, “I want to put a net around the whole stadium,” Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune reports. Teammate Kris Bryant said to ESPN, “I don’t know what we can do. Let’s just put fences up around the whole field. It’s so sad when you see stuff like that happen.” Jeff Passan clarified, asking, “You do think there should be fencing, netting all the way around to protect everyone?” Bryant responded, “Yeah, absolutely. You can see through these fences here. There’s a lot of kids coming to the games, young kids who want to watch us play. And the balls come in hard. The speed of the game is quick. Any safety measure we can take to make sure that the fans are safe, we should do it.”

The Royals are paying everyone. Why can’t all of the other teams?

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Over the past several weeks we’ve heard a lot of news about teams furloughing front office and scouting staff, leveling pay cuts for those who remain and, most recently, ceasing stipends to minor league players and releasing them en masse. The message being sent, intentionally or otherwise, is that baseball teams are feeling the pinch.

The Kansas City Royals, however, are a different story.

Jon Heyman reported this afternoon that the Royals are paying their minor leaguers through August 31, which is when the minor league season would’ve ended, and unlike so many other teams, they are not releasing players either. Jeff Passan, meanwhile, reports that the Royals will not lay any team employees off or furlough anyone. “Nearly 150 employees will not take pay cuts,” he says, though “higher-level employees will take tiered cuts.” Passan adds that the organization intends to restore the lost pay due to those higher-level employees in the future when revenue ramps back up, making them whole.

While baseball finances are murky at best and opaque in most instances, most people agree that the Royals are one of the lower-revenue franchises in the game. They are also near the bottom as far as franchise value goes. Finally, they have the newest ownership group in all of baseball, which means that the group almost certainly has a lot of debt and very little if any equity in the franchise. Any way you slice it, cashflow is likely tighter in Kansas City than almost anywhere else.

Yet the Royals are paying minor leaguers and front office employees while a great number of other teams are not. What’s their excuse?