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Joe Maddon’s advice on fan safety after Wrigley incident: ‘Pay attention’

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A rash of injuries to fans seated close to the field at ballparks this season, including two over the past weekend, has given rise to calls for Major League Baseball to make attending a game safer for those in premium seating. Joe Maddon, who witnessed firsthand on Sunday how dangerous it can be for fans seated so close to the field, had one piece of advice for fans on how to help avoid such frightening incidents.

Pay closer attention to the action on the field.

A female fan seated in the first-base box seats at Wrigley Field was struck by a line drive off the bat of Kyle Schwarber during the first inning of Sunday’s game between the Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves. She reportedly remained conscious following the injury, per the Cubs, but was placed on a stretcher and taken to a hospital for treatment.

The Cubs skipper, while referring to the incident as “awful,” stated that keeping an eye on the ballgame might help fans better protect themselves when a batted ball — or even a bat — gets sent screaming into the stands.

“Pay attention. I hate to say, but those are wonderful seats,” he said, via the Chicago Tribune. “You paid a lot of money for them … the fact that you’re right there. I watch and you see people turning their back to the field. You just can’t do it.”

When it was suggested that teams perhaps should expand the protective netting that presently protects fans seated behind home plate, Maddon didn’t seem keen on the concept.

“That would be an answer for someone other than me,” he said. “But when you are at the ballpark and you are in those particular locations, watch what’s going on. Every time a ball is pitched, you look. That’s probably the best answer, just pay attention.”

Maddon isn’t incorrect in his suggestion that keeping an eye on what’s occurring on the field would help limit injuries, there are plenty of occasions when little could be done by a fan to protect themselves when a batted ball comes screaming into the stands. The Cubs skipper’s thoughts are a nice jumping-off point, but probably won’t solve the issue entirely.