Albert Almora Jr.

USA Today

Do Your Job, MLB

Put nets up in every park all the way down to the foul poles.

May 30, 2019 - 11:40 am

Last night in Houston, the Cubs and Astros played a nationally televised baseball game. And for as fun as Tuesday was around the league with fluky inside-the-park jacks and comically bad first pitches—Wednesday was just the opposite. Wednesday was a nightmare and a disturbing reminder that Major League Baseball still is not doing nearly enough to ensure the safety of their fans.

And that’s because l in the top of the 4th of inning, Cubs centerfield Albert Almora, Jr. Lined a screaming foul ball into the stands down the third base line and struck a 4-year-old girl. And there was not a single second of confusion as to what had just happened a few rows deep into the crowd. 

Because immediately Almora screamed loud enough to be heard on the broadcast before burying he head in his hands and beginning to cry.  A man believed to be the 4-year-old’s father rushed the little girl to the top of the stairs in his arms.

Play was stopped for several minutes as both teams were shaken and Almora needed several minutes to try compose himself and finish his at bat. Jeff Passan, covering the game for ESPN said he had never a player this distraught in all of his years of covering the sport.  Eventually Almora returned to the box, and struck out swinging on the next pitch and appeared to be wiping tears from his eyes as he had headed back to the dugout.

 After Kyle Hendricks retired the Astros—Almora jogged over to a security guard near the section where the 4-year-old girl had been struck and was seen sobbing in security guard's arms as she hugged him. And when I say sobbing—I mean full-on breaking down in a stranger’s arms. It’s a sight I’ve never seen in a baseball game. And it speaks to just how distraught Almora was after hitting the girl... While, there is no official update on her condition multiple outlets have confirmed that she is expected to be ok.

After the game, Almora spoke to the media, and was obviously still upset and shaken and having trouble even talking about what had happened.

Of course. He’s a father to two young boys, you can absolutely see where he’s coming from. Of course, he was distraught. Of course, he was hurting.  No it wasn’t his fault, but he wasn’t’ thinking that in that moment. He has young kids, and he saw a ball that he fouled off, hit and hurt someone else’s young child. 

So where do we go from here? Because this is a serious problem.  And it’s not a one-off. Hell, I was on this very same radio show less than two years ago in September of 2017 talking about Todd Frazier hitting a 105-mile-per-hour line drive foul ball that struck a two-year-old girl in the face at Yankee Stadium. And on this very same radio show I played audio of Brian Dozier pleading with Major League Baseball for extending netting. And if you watched the game last night, Kris Bryant said essentially the same thing, that there would be netting all the way to the foul poles in every park.

And there’s absolutely no excuse not to at this point.  Is it problematic to spend some additional money to throw up netting, that might obstruct the view of those paying top dollar to sit in some of the best seats.  Maybe.  Sort of.  Not really.  Because it might take five minutes to get used to it and adjust before forgetting the net is even there.  But you know what’s an even bigger problem than putting it up and expecting fans to understand?  Not putting it up and having a line drive or broken bat kill one of those same fans.  Because it’s not a question of if, it’s a matter of win.  Even if you are paying attention, there are some foul balls and or broken bats you’re just not getting out of the way of.  So what the hell is major league baseball waiting for?  Someone to actually die before they do the right thing.  A dodger fan, already did die, four days after being hit by a foul ball.

And if you’re one of these people who want to blame the parents for putting their kids in those seats—fine—I guess. But it’s not like any adult has a much chance getting out of the way of a 105-mile-per-hour spinning line drive coming in on a hook. So this isn’t just about kids. It’s about everyone. 

Unless you played the game and you’re sitting there locked in to every pitch with your glove on your hand—you’re just as likely to get smoked.

Major league baseball needs to do a much better job of protecting its fans.  And its players.  Albert Almora Jr. Didn’t do anything he wrong.  He was just doing his job.  And he could have seriously injured or even killed a child.  By just doing his job

Time for MLB to do their job. Put nets up in every park all the way down to the foul poles. And do it before someone gets killed... You're playing with people's lives here. Stop.  Do the right thing.  Sometimes doing the right thing is really hard.  But not in this case.  This is easy. And it should have been done a long time ago.