* The Rays non-Red Sox, non-Yankees attendance is embarrassing. It’s no longer a shock to see it dip below 6,000. Among other things, that makes it hard to look down on the even-worse-attended Miami Marlins, whose stay-away fans at least have the disincentive of a bad team.
* There’s a reason why every Major League Baseball ticket has a disclaimer that says the spectator assumes all risks of attending a game. That’s because, as opposed to footballs, tennis balls or soccer balls, a line-drive baseball can severely injure–or kill a spectator.
Two points. First, MLB has to mandate that every franchise extend its netting well beyond the dugouts. Closer to the action, however cool, is also closer to an accident. It comes with the game. No net neutrality here.
Second, there’s some onus on spectators as well, especially those with small children. All professional sports know they can’t exist just by appealing to hard-core fans. They need families and dates. Distractions to what’s actually happening, from scoreboard announcements to variations on a social media theme, are a given. Attention is easily diverted, especially in a sport that has pedestrian-pace interludes. The in-game “experience” may simulate some of the ambience of a sports-themed picnic or an interactive social event, but it’s still Major League baseball with players throwing and hitting harder than ever. High-velocity foul balls are a part of the game. Life-threatening–or ending–accidents shouldn’t be.
* The Bucs Ndamukong Suh has a well-known–and well-earned–reputation as a dirty player. Stomping on the opposition–and incurring the resultant fines–will do that. It can lead to a stereotype that the NFL doesn’t need. But not everything about run-aground Suh fits that stereotype. He didn’t major in eligibility at the University of Nebraska; he earned an engineering degree. He also owns a real-estate development company, and his business mentor is Warren Buffet–not Warren Sapp.