Shame on MLB for leaving vulnerable fans unprotected

An oddity of Bud Selig’s generally successful administration as Major League Baseball’s commissioner was his occasional lapse into the mindset of a pauper washing windshields and hoping for a buck.

For example, consider the revelation that the life-threatening injuries to a Fenway Park fan last Friday night could have been prevented if the MLB Players Association had its way in the one of the last two collective bargaining agreements. In 2007 and 2012, the MLBPA called for putting some sort of protective netting between the backstop and the near end of the dugout on each side.

If such protection had been up when Brett Lawrie’s bat broke in two, the woman who took its jagged end in her face would have been spared a nightmare.

In an interview with Fox baseball reporter Ken Rosenthal, a member of the players’ negotiating team said the owners rejected the proposal mainly out of greed-fueled fear.

“(The owners) seem afraid that fans will lose access to the players – autographs, getting baseballs, etc. – and that will cause those ticket holders to be unhappy,’’ Arizona relief pitcher Brad Ziegler said. “Or, that they’d have to watch the game through a net. (But) fans behind home plate pay the highest prices, have the same issues, and yet those seats are always full.’’

In fact, the only time seats behind home plate are sparsely populated is when a team demands so much more than market value that even wealthy fans flinch. Think of the Yankees and their $235-per-game easy chairs known as field-level club seats.

That argument from the owners is breathtaking in its stupidity. Even the issue of pre-game access is absurd, since such netting could be reeled in or out at the flick of a switch.

In the case of Fenway Park, it is laughable to suggest that protecting those with the wherewithal (or connections) to occupy the top-tier seats would suddenly keep them away.

Currently, the only protection offered at Fenway is in the form of signs ringing the box-seat rails: “Be Alert! Foul balls and bats hurt.”

In other news, the sun is expected to set in the west this evening.

BEST EVER? UH, NO: The battered Cleveland Cavaliers rest on the precipice of winning their first NBA championship, which has reignited talk that His Highness is the greatest player, if not being, in the history of humankind.

Phil Jackson, who coached a pretty fair ballplayer to six titles, is on record stating what any minimally knowledgeable fan already understands: Bill Russell won 11 championships in 13 seasons. Best ever? Case closed.

Those who now drool at the altar of LeBron James may be startled to learn that John Havlicek was a vital member of two more championship teams than Michael Jordan. As for toughness, Havlicek severely injured his right shoulder in Game 3 of the 1973 Eastern Conference finals against the Knicks, returning later in the series, using his right hand for virtually nothing.

Put James in that circumstance and you’d see him in his street robes, waving on the big screen.

So, His Highness is the best ever? Please.

By the way, wasn’t this supposed to be his fifth championship season with the Miami Heat?

WHAT’S IN A NAME: For those who enjoy watching corporate spitting matches, check out the Philadelphia 76ers vs. Wells Fargo.

Apparently, Wells Fargo, which paid for the naming rights to the arena used by the Sixers and the Flyers, declined to raid its deep pockets one more time to become one of the basketball team’s corporate partners.

The 76ers have retaliated by refusing to call their home arena anything but The Center.

The way the 76ers have tanked for two straight seasons, Wells Fargo should consider itself lucky.

Alan Greenwood can be reached at 594-6427, agreenwood or @Telegraph_ AlanG.