Sunday, July 6, 2014

Nothing but Net

Sometimes sitting right by the net is awesome (Jacksonville, Florida).
As promised and as a kind of footnote, here are some thoughts on nets. Sitting close to the game is a good thing. Sitting behind home plate or at least in the area between the dugouts is also a good thing. We do it whenever possible. We've seen a lot of games from perspectives like the one above. But it is not an unmitigated pleasure. 

It is possible to be too close to the net, especially if the net is as chunky as the one they use at the Schaumburg Boomers, a Frontier League team in the Chicago suburbs. (What is a boomer? It's a nickname for the virtually extinct prairie chicken, of course.)

Anyway, when you get this close to a net this thick, it makes watching a game rather like one of those childhood exercises of learning to draw with grids. You have to pick a square or two to start with, comprehend what's happening in and around it, and then hope you can intuit where the ball is going next, because you will never have an uninterrupted view of it.

On the Fourth of July, Watson and I eventually gave up on our fourth-row seats and headed up the section. We still had to contend with the net, since it wraps all the way from dugout to dugout, but the effect wasn't as distracting with a little distance.

We noticed something further about this particular net in this particular stadium, though. Let's zoom in on some of the support wires:

Here and elsewhere, it seemed to us that there were about double the number of cables. That and the thickness of the net made us wonder if the ownership was especially worried not just about balls and bats leaving the field but about any other form of physical danger. Was there an especially strong allergy to liability here?

Yes, yes, there was. It turns out the Schaumburg Boomers, along with the Gary South Shore Railcats of the American Association (not the real one—the one formed about ten years ago during a schism in the Northern League; lord, independent baseball is a mess), are owned by a personal-injury lawyer. You can see his mark in the program and on the stadium:


Hey, no one likes getting hit in the face by a ball—and no owner wants to face a whiny lawsuit—but you should be able to pays your money and takes your chances, especially if you've taken the trouble to sit up front—the people who aren't really at the game for the game itself are out on the party porch to begin with. Or at least they should be. Mister Salvi, tear down this net!

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