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Safety must come first

What if a baseball came screaming toward you at more than 100 mph?

You may pull out your baseball glove, but it’d likely be too late. Even with a glove on, would you react in time to get out of harm’s way?

Many baseball fans are there just to watch a game, and catching a foul ball is the ultimate prize. But they shouldn’t have to risk injury — or their life — to do so.

Fan safety has received further scrutiny after a young girl was struck by a foul ball in Houston during a game in May. The Chicago White Sox and Washington Nationals recently announced that they will extend their netting to the foul poles.

In the latest incident last weekend, a woman at Dodger Stadium was taken to a hospital for precautionary tests after being struck in the head by a foul ball. The young woman was sitting four rows from the field along the first base line, just beyond protective netting that extends to the end of the visiting dugout.

That comes on the heels of a woman dying last August after being struck in the head by a foul ball at Dodger Stadium. In 2017, a toddler was struck by a foul ball at Yankee Stadium in September. The girl suffered facial fractures and bleeding on the brain.

That incident prompted all 30 major league stadiums to expand protective netting to at least the far ends of the dugouts at the start of the 2018 season.

But now it’s time to go farther.

Major League Baseball needs to extend the netting to the foul poles in left and right field.

Sure, it may lead to disgruntled fans like Jessica Derby, a Cubs fan who told the Chicago Tribune that she “came here to watch a ballgame, not a net.”

Yet the fans who have been struck also came to watch a ballgame but instead got caught in the crossfire and carried out on stretchers.

“There’s so many other things going around the stadium: advertisements, stuff on the video board, the mascots running up and down the seats, vendors,” Nationals pitcher Sean Doolittle told The Associated Press. “It’s unrealistic to say, ‘Oh, you should just pay attention to the game.’ C’mon, man. We’ve created this experience for fans, we have an obligation to make sure they stay safe.”

So if fans are willing to pay big bucks to sit in seats behind home plate, the dugouts — and a net — isn’t it a no-brainer to put netting down the foul lines, too?

Take them out to the ballgame, buy them some peanuts and Cracker-Jack and keep them coming back.

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