By Cara Cooper
When I was playing softball in high school, we were at practice one day playing an intersquad scrimmage. I was batting and hit a line-drive to our shortstop. The ball was hit so hard that it hit off her glove and smacked her square in the face. It was basically a direct shot to her eye socket.
The girl, who was one of the better players on our team, instantly fell to the ground and screamed “Oh my gosh, I’m going to be so ugly!”
(I should mention this happened, like, three days before prom.)
I felt terrible. She had to leave practice. Her mom took her to the hospital that night to make sure nothing in her face was broken. And all I could think of the rest of the night was her yelling through tears. I mean, she was going to have to go to prom with a black eye! For a high school girl there is no worse punishment.
In the end, she was okay. Everything at the hospital checked out, and my dad assured me it wasn’t my fault and it was just something that happens, one of those hazards of the trade. Also, it kind of proved I was a person of great strength who should be feared in the batter’s box (I was not). But I still felt so bad about it I baked a cake for her and wrote “I’m so sorry!” on it in sprinkles.
This is a dumb story, I know, but I think about it every time I’m watching a baseball game and see a foul ball go into the stands and hit somebody, which has been a huge point of contention this season. Earlier this season Cubs outfielder Albert Almora Jr. hit a foul ball down the left-field line that hit a toddler. Almora was so distraught he was seen crying into the arms of a security guard at the stadium when he found out the little girl had to be taken to the hospital.
The girl was OK, but she wasn’t the first, or the last, fan to be hit by a foul ball this season. Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor hit a young boy with a foul ball just this week, and a fan at the Kansas City Royals game was hit Saturday night.
These incidents have brought up a new wave of players begging Major League Baseball and teams to extend the netting all the way down the foul lines. At a Major League Baseball game, foul balls can come zooming down the line at more than 100 miles per hour. There’s no way a regular fan could do anything to save themselves from that.
But for as passionately as players wants extended netting, fans are just as passionate for keeping it the way it is, which makes no sense to me. Netting is easy to see through, and it gives peace of mind that you can enjoy the game without a visit to the hospital later that night. Yes, more netting takes away the chance of getting a souvenir, but that’s a trade-off you have to accept.
And if fans don’t want netting extended for their sake, at least think of the players. My story above isn’t a perfect metaphor for this, because when I hit someone it was a player on the field, and she had a glove on (it clearly didn’t work, but she did have it.) But I have to live with knowing that girl’s prom photos were forever ruined. Can you imagine being a baseball player and having to live with something way, way worse on your conscious? They shouldn’t have to worry about that while playing the game.
Let take more of a look around the league:
Bauer outage in Cleveland
Cleveland Indians’ Trevor Bauer, one of several top-tier pitchers expected to be traded before Wednesday’s MLB trade deadline, was prematurely taken out of his start Sunday. Yes, Bauer was going to be taken out anyway, because he had allowed seven earned runs in 4.1 innings pitched, but he was for sure going to be out after he took the baseball and chucked it from the pitcher’s mound over the centerfield fence in frustration.
Was it a childish move? Most definitely. But was it also impressive? Well, the centerfield fence in Kansas City, where they were playing, was 410 feet, and he cleared it from the infield without a crowhop. His centerfielder didn’t even flinch as it zoomed over his head. So yea, it was super impressive.
Pitchers on the block
It’s not often you see young, top of the rotation pitchers on the trade block, but Bauer is one of several who will likely find a new team this week. Bauer’s Indian’s are just two games out of the AL Central, and aren’t necessarily sellers, but could very well want to move him because, well, they’re tired of him. Which makes total sense.
Toronto Blue Jays ace Marcus Stroman was traded to the Mets Sunday, while New York is simultaneously actively shopping pitcher Noah Syndergaard. The Blue Jays are currently 19.5 games out in the AL East, and likely want to move Stroman to get some young talent to play alongside Vlad Guerrero Jr. For the Met, though, this doesn’t make too much sense, especially if they trade Syndergaard. We’ll wait and see how the deadline plays out.
The Giants are also likely to move former ace Madison Bumgarner, which would be weird mostly because after being the ace of three World Series champion teams can you imagine seeing him in anything other than a Giants uniform?
The MLB Trade Deadline is Wednesday at 4 p.m.
Mike Trout update
Just because it’s always important to know how the best player is baseball is doing. Mike Trout is hitting .297, and has 34 home runs this season, tops in the American League, and six shy of his career best. He also leads the AL with 85 RBIs, a .439 on-base percentage, a .663 slugging percentage, and 81 walks.
Cara Cooper is the sports editor of the Martinsville Bulletin. You can reach her at (276)638-8801 ext. 241.