Game 153: NYY vs. TOR — Northern exposure, clinch stalled, safety first

The Yankees flew north for their final away series, looking for a single win that would clinch their postseason hopes. And it took 2 hours and 32 minutes and 3 Blue Jays’ home runs to completely obliterate that hope. At least for tonight. That magical number is still out there at one.

Masahiro Tanaka got the start tonight in the weekend series opener in Toronto and certainly had a bit of struggles pretty much right off the bat. He threw 95 pitches into the 6th inning, gave up 6 hits, 3 walks, and 8 runs (7 earned), and struck out 6 batters. In the 1st, a lead-off single moved to 3rd on a missed catch error, and then scored on a ground out to get the Blue Jays on the board.

A 1-out solo home run in the 3rd doubled their score. And then they really got started. A lead-off walk in the 4th scored as part of a 1-out 2-run home run. But things in the 6th got really messy. He gave up a walk and a single and then got consecutive strikeouts. He just needed one more out to get out of the inning. Instead, he walked the next batter to load up the bases. Again, that one out to go… nope, a grand slam just doubled the Blue Jays score.

Well, Rogers’ Centre liked it. The Yankees, not so much. So they got into their bullpen. Tommy Kahnle was up first, taking 6 pitches to get that elusive last out of the 6th inning, a strikeout. Jonathan Holder breezed his way through the 7th in just 10 pitches (and 2 strikeouts). And Giovanni Gallegos’ 8th inning kept the Blue Jays from further widening their lead further.

Meanwhile, the Yankees faced one of the Blue Jays’ better starters, using tonight’s game to prove it. Though, if we’re being honest, the Yankees’ batters were pretty much hitting directly into the Blue Jays’ defense all night, only getting 3 hits and working 4 walks all night, despite only getting 4 strikeouts all night. The Yankees’ lone run came on the back of the AL home run leader. In the 1st inning, Aaron Judge hit #46 — a solo home run into the left field seats.

Final score: 8-1 Blue Jays

To update you on the story on everyone’s minds: Todd Frazier is in contact personally with the family of the little girl who was struck by his foul ball on Wednesday afternoon. Her father reassured him that it was a freak accident, and that she is doing okay. Apparently, she is being held at the hospital for further tests to verify the stability of her condition, being so young and getting a 106 mph line drive to her face. But New York Presbyterian is one of the best hospitals in the City. She is under the best care really, and Frazier has promised to keep in touch every day to make sure she is continuing her road to recovery.

This, of course, has raised the debate again about how far a stadium needs to have safety netting between the field and the stands. I was at Citi Field for the displaced series, and the Mets are one of the few teams to actually have extended netting. And I was instantly impressed with the safety measures. I’ve heard all the arguments for and against the extended netting.

I’m aware that putting up netting does require architectural and structural engineering to put up and stabilize netting as it wraps around the stadium further than dugout to dugout. I recognize that a lot of stadiums weren’t originally built with the intent to have such a safety precaution, so adding the feature does take an extra measure to put up and not have it collapse on fans or players upon impact or, you know, a gentle breeze. That’s fine. I’d rather have it serve its purpose and protect the fans from 106 mph line drives to the face.

I’m also aware that a lot of fans don’t like the idea of netting as they think it interferes with their view of the field. I really dispute this. Have these people ever sat behind the netting? I usually sit behind the netting. In fact, the only time recently that I haven’t sat behind the netting is when I’ve joined the Bleacher Creatures out in right field. I’ve literally sat up against the netting, and it’s never caused me to miss what’s going on in the game.

Here’s a simple reason why: your eyes are like a camera lens — they will focus on the primary action that your brain tells it to regardless of the minute obstruction between you and the action. If you want to focus on the obstruction, you will. If you want to focus on the game, you will. You will stop seeing the netting almost instantly because your brain will literally unfocus from it and erase it from your vision. It’s really rather cool that our brain and eyes do this, and it’s why the argument against netting for the sake of fan viewing is bunk.

Bottom line: foul pole to foul pole netting is literally the only way we’re going to make fans safe. I’m okay with even a graduated netting (like on a slope or diagonal to the foul pole). And until all 30 teams and stadiums do the upgrade, fans are literally taking the risk every game. Even if fans are “staying alert for bats and balls that may enter the stands during a game”, fans don’t have enough time to really react when a 106 mph line drive is headed their way. Especially if it’s a young child whose reaction time is still developing.

So, MLB and teams: step it up and get it done. In the words of Twins’ infielder Brian Dozier, who had a direct view of the young girl’s injury on Wednesday, “Either one: You don’t bring kids down there. Or Number Two: Every stadium needs to have nets. That’s it. I don’t care about the damn view of a fan or what. It’s all about safety. I still have a knot in my stomach. I don’t know if you guys saw it, but I hope the kid’s OK. We need nets. Or don’t put kids down there.”

Go Yankees!

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