WTAE Pittsburgh – The Pittsburgh Pirates are extending the netting from behind home plate to the end of the dugouts.

“Fan safety at PNC Park is one of our top priorities,” Frank Coonelly, the Pittsburgh Pirates’ president, said. “The extended netting will improve fan protection while minimizing any obstructions.”

The Pirates are also replacing the netting behind home plate with a new, more transparent net. The new net will extend all the way to the far end of each dugout. This change should limit, if not eliminate, any sight line obstructions.

“The new netting system will provide more seating options at PNC Park for those fans who want to sit close to the action along the baselines but with the protection of netting,” Coonelly said. “ And there still will be many seating areas outside the netting where fans have more time to react to balls and bats that leave the field of play.”

One of the biggest thrills as a kid is knowing every time you go to a baseball game, you will have the opportunity to walk away from a ballpark with a game used ball or some other type of memorabilia. And as anyone that’s ever been to their fair share of baseball games can attest, your best odds of scooping up a ball are when your seats are directly behind the dugout. Basically every half inning there’s an opportunity for a kid to catch a ball from a player or a coach. It’s one the most exhilarating feelings in the world, and now the Pirates are stripping that excitement away from every kid that ever sits behind the dugout again. I have one word to describe how I feel for the next generation of kids that will never know what this feeling is like – that is, to have every kid around you stare at you in complete and utter jealousy like you’re a god damn king: Sad!

I get it, though. Bob Nutting and the Pirates are probably afraid to death the next time somebody gets popped in the head with a liner that they’re going to have lawsuits up to their eyeballs. But at the same time, if you’re going to get tickets behind the dugout, know what you’re getting yourself into. It’s part of the experience. Sitting that close without protective netting should keep you focused on the game versus shoving hot dogs down your throat while you take 17 Instagram shots of the Pittsburgh skyline behind the outfield. Sitting that close to the action makes you a part of the game. If you can’t handle a liner blazing over the top of your head every once in a while or the rare “hey, how you doin?” bat slip, then your ass shouldn’t be sitting behind the dugout in the first place.

This is a very soft move by the Pirates, in my opinion. Taking out one of the biggest thrills in the game because some people can’t keep their head on a swivel. But you know what, this new netting won’t prevent you from dying if you decide to put your head up against it like this lady did.

Perhaps, people should learn how to toughen up instead.