With two MLB teams extending their nets down the foul line, is it time for the rest of the league to follow?
Brian Snyder, Arizona Republic
Major League Baseball appears to have a problem with fans running onto the field with Arizona Diamondbacks fans seemingly leading the way.
Maybe expanding protective netting around MLB fields would protect the players in addition to the fans.
Amid questions about fan safety from foul balls, questions have also arisen about the safety of players from their own fans.
It seems to happen more and more often as of late, including several instances at Chase Field and around the league this past weekend.
The fans was eventually handcuffed near the Phillies’ dugout.
The second came in the top of the eighth inning. Just as Andrew Chafin was delivering a pitch, a fan dropped out of the stands in left-center field, then starting running toward right field. He was tackled about the time shortstop Nick Ahmed was securing a pop-up off the bat of Eric Thames.
As the fan was being walked off, his pants fell down, causing him to stumble and fall as the security personnel were trying to drag him off the field.
Earlier in the third inning, two women climbed on top of the Brewers’ dugout and unfurled a banner. They stood there for several minutes before security got to them.
On Sunday in Pittsburgh, a fan walked onto the field and attempted to shake the hand of Philadelphia Phillies infielder Brad Miller as he was attempting to bat.
But it wasn’t just this weekend.
Last month, several security guards tackled an Atlanta Braves fan after he ran onto the field.
Over three consecutive Diamondbacks-Dodgers games — one at Dodger Stadium and the following two at Chase Field — fans ran onto the field while Los Angeles was playing defense.
“It’s getting ridiculous,” Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner told the Los Angeles Times. “It’s just not safe and it seems like they’re getting younger and younger and it’s going around now that nothing’s happening to these young kids. They just kind of get a slap on the wrist. So baseball’s going to have to do something to make it hurt enough to keep fans in the stands and not running out on the field.”
At Dodger Stadium, a young woman ran onto the field in an attempt to take a photo with star outfielder Cody Bellinger.
The next game, at Chase Field, an 18-year-old woman ran at Bellinger, again, for a hug during the eighth inning..
In the second incident at Chase Field, just after the completion of the game, a 3-2 victory for the Dodgers, a young man got onto the field and ran toward the Dodgers’ outfielders, but was tackled by security in center field.
The female fan who rushed Bellinger during the first incident at Chase Field was arrested for disorderly conduct and trespassing, the Diamondbacks confirmed to USA TODAY Sports. She was also banned from Chase Field indefinitely.
“I had a feeling that she was harmless,” Bellinger said after the encounter. “She came around with a phone again. Like I said, it could potentially get dangerous especially if it keeps getting blown up like it is.”
The popularity of the first encounter on social media worried Bellinger coming into the game.
“I am trying to play a game and I don’t think I should have to worry about who’s going to come on the field and what not,” Bellinger said.
“I think it could be dangerous. I know it’s innocent right now,” he added.
Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts said he feared for his player’s safety, especially with the traction it’s had among fans.
“We really got to worry about that and it’s unfortunate that he’s got to now worry about people coming onto the field,” Roberts said.
Chase Field has a lower fence in the outfield that makes it easier for fans to jump over to get onto the field.
Roberts discussed increasing security to protect his player and believed the security team would stop this issue from spreading into future games.
“Things are going to be tightened up certainly,” Roberts said.
“Something needs to happen to keep these kids in the stands and keep the players safe,” Turner told the Los Angeles Times.
USA TODAY Sports’ Scott Gleeson, Republic reporter Michelle Gardner and Republic staff writer Jenna Ortiz contributed to this story.
Diamondbacks vs. Orioles photos