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Rob Manfred Throws Shade at Report Saying Phillies Are Planning to Expand Safety Netting, Because Why Not?

We told you yesterday about Ken Rosenthal’s report that had the Phillies leading the charge to expand the safety netting at Citizens Bank Park, therefore protecting more fans, and setting a precedent for other Major League Baseball teams to do the same at their ballparks.

Well, not so fast. It seems as if the MLB commissioner, Rob Manfred, says that isn’t the case. For some reason, he’s throwing shade at Rosenthal’s report and, to my surprise, the Phillies.

“Sometimes — this is shocking, actually — sometimes I’ve learned over the years that not all reports are accurate,” Manfred said. “I’ve talked to the Phillies folks. They have no plans to move ahead immediately on this topic.”

While changes may not be imminent with the Phillies, things could look a bit different at Citizens Bank Park, as well as stadiums around the league, by the time the 2016 season opens.

“This is a topic that is of serious concern, not only to me but more importantly to all 30 owners. We discussed it in August. We have a process ongoing here we are examining all of the relevant information. Stadium designs. Where balls and bats go into the stands. … Fan input, in terms of what they’re looking to see. Material availability. You know, there’s netting and then there’s netting.”

Manfred said the goal is for his office to make recommendations to the owners by November, with changes being in place as early as April if everything goes smoothly.

Well, that’s shitty. We can never have nice things. This is basically your boss throwing you under the bus when you have the best idea in the company that won’t just cut costs, but make everyone around much more happier and more productive. Oh, one of my teams is looking to extend safety netting? Yep, not on my watch. And if they do extend the netting, it’ll be my idea. My way. My way or the highway, gents. What a shitty thing to do.

Why was Manfred so quick to make sure everyone knew the Phillies were doing absolutely nothing? Whether he’s right or wrong, it’s odd that the MLB commissioner would point out something that sounds great in principle apparently has no chance of happening any time soon.

And this is all sorts of ridiculous: “There’s netting and then there’s netting”? What the hell is this? Honestly, the netting doesn’t affect sightlines and if that’s the biggest concern, MLB has its priorities screwed up. I think the real motive behind Manfred taking his time to expand netting is that means less souvenirs for fans, and, ultimately, less tickets sold if fans think they won’t have a chance to get a foul ball or a ball thrown to them by a player. Not sure why you need a full on study of what expanding netting means, especially when the number one motive should be fan safety.

According to Manfred, they need to adopt “industry-wide” guidelines. Whatever that means. I guess teams won’t be able to act in their best interest, because all the netting guidelines have to be uniform. Which makes no sense because every MLB ballpark has a different setup, so adopting uniform guidelines would take forever.

“I suspect we would adopt industry guidelines,” he said. “But there are going to be some individual decision-making here because of the design of ballparks. The designs are so different.”

“Frankly, when we started to look at it, you lose track of how different they really are. It’s more of a challenge to devise meaningful guidelines for the industry because the ballparks are so different. So it’s going to be a combination of the two,” he said.

The timing couldn’t have been more awful, because Thursday night at the Phillies game, a lady was hit by a foul ball off the bat of Freddy Galvis, but was apparently fine.

And for the “They should be paying attention to the game and not on their phones taking a million selfies!” crowd, even if fans do pay attention to the game, it’s still not easy to get out of the way of a screaming line drive or a windmilling baseball bat heading into the stands. Sometimes, you just can’t prepare for it. I don’t know… call me soft, but there’s nothing wrong with expanding safety netting especially when it won’t affect the sightlines, and might save a serious injury from occurring.

And, if it wasn’t for the safety netting, we would never have had this.

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