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Braves become latest team to extend protective netting

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The Atlanta Braves announced yesterday that they will be the latest team to extend protective netting. Current netting at Sun Trust Park goes almost to the end of the dugouts. The new netting will extent from foul pole to foul pole. The installation should be done by the end of September, the team said. That makes the Braves the 11th team to announce an extension of netting this summer.

As is usual in the wake of such announcements, a vocal segment of fandom is appalled, claiming that, if people simply paid better attention to the field, they would not be at risk of injury (click the above link and read the comments to see some examples). Such views are pretty idiotic, however, in light of the speed at which batted balls are leaving the field these days, along with the number of distractions teams themselves create as part of the game day experience. It’s also worth noting that every single time a ballplayer is asked about netting they are emphatically in favor of it. These are men, by the way, who routinely react to hot shots that 99.9% of the adult population can’t even see. If they think it’s unreasonable for fans to “simply pay attention and protect themselves” then some armchair experts’ views on this don’t really matter to me that much.

The recent trend of teams extending nets farther down the foul lines comes in the wake of an incident in May at a game between the Astros and Chicago Cubs in Houston in which a two-year-old girl suffered a skull fracture when struck by a foul ball off the bat of the Cubs’ Albert Almora Jr. The child’s family was just beyond the protective netting down the baseline. Since then the Orioles, White Sox, Astros, Royals, Dodgers, Marlins, Pirates, Rangers, Blue Jays and Nationals have either extended or announced that they will extend protective netting. Now the Braves join them.

I suspect that, by Opening Day 2020, all 30 teams will have followed suit.

The harrowing tale of the end of Bobby Jenks’ baseball career

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Bobby Jenks was a key part of the 2005 world champion White Sox. By 2010, his effectiveness as a closer fell off and he signed with the Boston Red Sox for the 2011 season. He’d pitch in only 19 games that year, suffer a back injury and would never pitch again.

In the year or so after that, we heard that Jenks was arrested for driving under the influence. And then we heard that his back surgery was botched, and his baseball career was over. Then, after years of silence, we learned last spring that Jenks won $5.1 million in a medical malpractice suit against the doctor who performed his surgery.

We did not, however, know all the details until Bobby Jenks wrote about them at the Players’ Tribune this morning. This is must-click link stuff, folks.

Jenks talks about how a seemingly innocuous pitch to Jorge Posada in an early-season Red Sox-Yankees game in 2011 was the last pitch he’d ever throw. He talks about the presumably simple surgery that would supposedly get him back on the field. And then the scary complications in which he almost died due to leaking spinal fluid resulting from the botched surgery. Then, after using painkillers to deal with back pain, Jenks’ fell into drug addiction, all of which culminated in him finding himself half-naked and crazed in a car that didn’t belong to him with police and rescue workers surrounding him.

Jenks got clean but his wife left him. And then he mounted a multi-year lawsuit during which he learned that the reason his back surgery was screwed up was because the surgeon was performing two surgeries at one time, which is an apparently common practice called “concurrent surgery,” that sounds like it totally should NOT be a common practice.

Yet Jenks has survived. He’s been sober for over seven years and he seems to be in a good place. But boy did he have to go through something harrowing to get there. Definitely take the time to read it.