Speaking to the media on Wednesday at the Winter Meetings in San Diego, commissioner Rob Manfred said that all 30 teams will have expanded protective netting at their stadiums. It will extend to at least beyond the far end of the dugout. Some teams will have it extend further, even all the way to the foul pole.
A handful of teams began the effort to expand protective netting on their own last year after a young child was struck in the head by an Albert Almora foul ball in June. The fan suffered a fractured skull, subdural bleeding, brain contusions, brain edema, and severe seizures. Almora was visibly shaken as the game went into a brief delay. In the aftermath, the Braves, Astros, White Sox, Royals, Dodgers, Marlins, Pirates, Rangers, Blue Jays, Nationals, and Orioles were among the teams to announce efforts to extend protective netting at their ballparks. Now the rest of the league will join them.
Japanese baseball teams have lots of protective netting at their stadiums and have for years. Both the fans and the players seem to be happy with it. Netting is something a vocal minority of fans will loudly complain and then forget about. Rich people have been sitting behind protective netting at ballparks (behind home plate) since time immemorial and it hasn’t seemed to be an issue.