For Pete's Sake

Stephen King’s latest writing: An essay against MLB protective netting

Author Stephen King during the 2008 playoffs.
Author Stephen King during the 2008 playoffs. The Associated Press

Stephen King’s books have been sold more than 350 million copies.

Maybe you’ve read “Carrie” or “The Stand” and “The Shining.” Or seen the movie adaptations.

In addition to his literary success, King is an avid Red Sox fan. In fact, he’s a season-ticket holder, and he’s not happy. King doesn’t like the protective nets that have appeared at major-league ballparks across the country, particularly at Fenway Park.

On Sunday, King wrote an opinion piece Sunday for the Boston Globe lamenting how his view of games has changed.

This is part of what he wrote (you can read the entire piece here):

According to a Bloomberg News report, 1,750 fans are injured in game-related incidents every year. That’s more than the number of batters hit by pitches (about 1,500, according to the Elias Sports Bureau). But almost 74 million fans attended MLB games in 2015, so the chances of being struck by a piece of bat or a foul line drive are pretty slim. Right up there with getting struck by lightning, I’d say. Maybe even less, if the fan is paying attention. Close to the field at Fenway, fans are specifically instructed to do just that by signs reading BATS AND FOUL BALLS HURT! PAY ATTENTION!

There are questions inherent in the decision to net, and I think they’re bigger than baseball. Like when does protection become overprotection? Is the safety of a fan at a public event like a baseball game the responsibility of the organization putting on that event? (According to the back of every MLB ticket sold, the fan is responsible.) When do safety precautions begin to steal away the pure joy of being there?

King wrote that he was given the option of moving to an unobstructed view, but he will keep the seats, which are two rows from the playing field.

Not that he’s happy about it:

We live in an increasingly cosseted society, where forces larger than ourselves have taken charge of our safety. I have absolutely no problem with most of those safety measures. Childproof caps on medicines are terrific. So are seat belts, bike helmets, and mouth guards for kids playing contact sports. I think the decision to ban home plate collisions was the right thing to do, although such violent meetings were part of baseball as I knew it for most of my life. But if we are not to be a nation of overgrown children being cared for by various forms of the MLB brass (“for our own good,” of course), we have to take at least some responsibility when we attend a public event. Also, there’s something almost ludicrous about wrapping America’s baseball stadiums in protective gauze when any idiot with a grudge can buy a gun and shoot a bunch of people. I’d much rather see some action taken on that little problem.

The Kansas City Royals have announced that the netting behind home plate at Kauffman Stadium will be extended for safety reasons for the 2016 season. David Feliz with C&H Baseball worked on configuring the netting Wednesday, Feb. 17, but the net w

 

Pete Grathoff: 816-234-4330, @pgrathoff

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