Not everyone loves the expanded netting installed at Guaranteed Rate Field over the All-Star break, but it appears there’s one new reason to be in favor of it: ridiculous catches in the stands.
Mets outfielder Jeff McNeil gave us an example of the netting’s new potential use during the White Sox’ home game Thursday afternoon. It’s something that likely would’ve been impossible without the netting that the White Sox added recently to improve fan safety.
McNeil runs toward the right-field stands at full speed for a ball off the bat of Eloy Jimenez and dives right into the stands to catch the ball, apparently knowing fully well that the netting will be able to support his weight.
The outfielder ends up catching the ball while hanging narrowly over fans in the stands, bouncing off harmlessly with the ball in his mitt after fans gently pushed him away.
It’s fair to say this is an unexpected consequence of the expanded netting added to protect fans from foul balls and broken bats. Outfielders usually have to seriously consider what to do when running toward the stands in order to protect both themselves and the fans sitting in front-row seats.
But in this case, the netting allowed McNeil to make an incredible catch that likely would’ve been out of his grasp just a month ago. Let’s consider it another reason to be in favor of extra netting at big league stadiums.