Saturday, June 6, 2009

Dangers of Being a Fan

So I'm sitting here, trying to do work, and I can't get this one image out of my head.

It is, as my previous post mentioned, the image of a father, panicked, carrying his young daughter in his arms after she has been struck by a foul ball.

I keep thinking: how many times have I been sitting in foul ball territory, momentarily distracted by my brother, my friend, or my food, and ended up not paying any attention to what was going on in the game at that instant?

There are warnings on tickets, on the backs of seats, and announcements every game: beware of foul balls (and, now it would seem, bat shards).

On some level we're all aware of this: we all want to catch a foul ball or a home run, to be in that mad scramble and to come home with, as my brother once called a hockey puck we took home, a free souvenir.

We all know the risk we assume when we accept baseball tickets. It's been part of the game for 150 years. There's no reason to think it will change, and yet, at the same instance, all it takes is one ball hit too hard in the wrong direction, one more broken bat...

I know myself. I know that I have horrible reaction timing and my first reaction is to duck and cover, rather than to try to catch a foul ball.

I figure some day, if I continue to attend as many games as I do, that the duck-and-cover strategy might cause me a broken hand or a broken wrist, but, at the very least, my skull might escape intact.

There doesn't seem to be anything, really, that you can do about this issue. The screen behind home plate certainly helps, though it does impede the view (I've sat behind the screen at both major and minor league games). I don't think you'll find much argument that from a safety standpoint, it's certainly necessary. However, beyond that, I'm not sure if there's anything else that could be done without ruining the experience of viewing the game that we have had for so long.

Still, there is something that is just...wrong...about what I saw this afternoon.

Baseball is, after all, a game enjoyed by kids, as the archtype goes, who dream of standing at the plate in the bottom of the ninth with two out as the winning run.

I will a long time wondering about the fate of that girl. Was she okay? Will she be okay, not just physically, but in terms of willing to go to a baseball game again?

I don't know.

Baseball won't change anything because of what happened to one fan, but part of me wishes there was something that could be done. It's one thing when an adult gets hurt. It's entirely another when it's a kid.