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Manfred: MLB-Wide Policy on Netting a Challenge

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Noting the difficulty of creating one rule for 30 ballparks, Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred believes it would be a challenge to institute a league-wide protective netting policy. 

Over the course of 2017, teams at all levels of the sport have been rolling out different initiatives for protective netting at ballparks. This is especially true at the major league level, where the New York Mets have gone to great lengths to provide additional netting at Citi Field. Clubs such as the Philadelphia Phillies and Houston Astros have also undertaken similar projects at their facilities.

While it is clear that developments relating to extended netting are continuing to unfold, MLB has still yet to institute a league-wide mandate on protective netting, though it did issue a set of recommendations in 2015. Manfred recently indicated that MLB is continuing to evaluate protective netting standards, but says no timetable is in place for a league-wide policy.

Pointing to the design variances of ballparks across the league, Manfred believes it would be difficult to come up with a clear league-wide mandate that suits every facility. More from The Daily News:

“I think you’re going to see continued evolution by the clubs – extended netting that’s designed to fit with each individual stadium,” said Manfred, who attended MLB executive (and former Yankee manager) Joe Torre’s “Safe at Home” Foundation charity golf and tennis event at Sleepy Hollow Golf Club Thursday. “We continually are talking to the individual clubs about what they should be doing in each of their stadiums. I think the reluctance to do it on a league-wide basis only relates to the difficulty of having a single rule that fits 30 stadiums that obviously are not designed the same way.”

What will be watched, going forward, is how teams look to create or modify protective netting at their ballparks. Incidents of fans being hurt by foul balls–including a recent one at Yankee Stadium–prompt the question of how teams will look to address this issue. While there may be challenges to coming up with a rule that fits all 30 ballparks, there are recent signs of teams placing an increased emphasis on protective netting, and it would not be surprising if that trend continues.

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