NET GAINS

Ken Hoffman pitches solution for Major League Baseball safety concerns

Photo courtesy of ABC13/David J. Phillip/AP

This article originally appeared on CultureMap.

"Thoughts and prayers" are a nice, but what are you waiting for, Houston Astros? Extend Minute Maid Park's protective netting all the way to the foul poles now. Let's not have another child get smacked in the head with a 100-mph line drive.

I go to a lot of games. I've seen fans get hit by foul balls and carried out of the stands. I'm surprised that somebody hasn't been killed yet.

A few years ago, Major League Baseball instructed teams to extend the netting to at least the far end of each dugout. That's not nearly far enough. Not even close.

Why not now?

I hear the reasons why some fans don't want the netting extended any farther. They say the netting will interfere with their view of the game. What I think they're really saying is … we don't like authority telling us what's good or bad for us.

"I didn't wear a bike helmet when I was a kid, and I turned out fine."

"I don't need the government telling me I have to wear a seatbelt."

"Why shouldn't schools be allowed to serve soda and French fries in the cafeteria for lunch? Hey, I'll raise my dangerously obese, unhealthy child any way I want."

Well, children should wear bike helmets. It's a smart law. You need to buckle up. Click it or ticket. And our children are fat enough without eating cake and ice cream for lunch.

Get smart

That's not authority telling us what we can or can't do. That's the world growing smarter. It's just common safety sense for baseball to extend protective netting all the way to the foul pole. Do it now.

Netting doesn't affect your view of the game. Rich people, who sit behind home plate in the most expensive seats in the stadium, don't seem to mind being safe. I've sat in those seats a couple of times. You don't even notice the netting. It doesn't lessen your view or enjoyment of the game. And foul balls directed behind the plate typically aren't hit that hard, anyway, that's why they go backwards.

The most dangerous places to sit in a stadium are exactly where there is no netting now, down the foul lines. That's asking for trouble, and a couple of nights ago, trouble arrived.

Sure, a blooper video of a fan holding a baby in one arm, and spilling a beer trying to catch a foul ball with his other arm, is funny. It's also incredibly foolish and lucky.

Continue reading on CultureMap to learn about Ken Hoffman's final thoughts on a solution for MLB.

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TEXANS HAVE ZERO DEPTH AT CORNER

Here's what Davante Adams' big day against the Texans really proved

Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images

Seven weeks into the season, Bradley Roby has been the sole bright spot playing for a secondary that has been subpar at best. He entered Week 7 against the Green Bay Packers trailing only Eric Murray for the most tackles as a defensive back, while owning the Houston Texans' only interception of the season.

During his media availability on Thursday, Roby spoke about having the Texans' confidence to trust him as the primary defender shadowing the opposing team's best receiver.

And with Davante Adams coming to NRG Stadium with Aaron Rodgers on Sunday, Roby had an opportunity to illustrate why Houston's coaching staff have so much faith in him.

Three plays into the game, Roby sustained a knee injury that sidelined him the rest of the afternoon. In his absence, the Texans felt his importance competing with a depleted secondary.

Adams would go on to have a career day against the Texans. He recorded a career-best 196 receiving yards on 13-of-18 targets and two touchdowns — as the Packers handed the Texans a 35-20 loss on Sunday.

Had the Fort Worth native avoided the injury, would it have resulted in a victory for the Texans? Perhaps not. It is always hard for a team to come away victorious after going scoreless during the first half, but Roby would have limited the destruction caused by Adams. Rogers completed four deep passes where he recorded 28 or more yards, with Adams being the recipient of three.

Not only did Houston have to deal with the effects of not having their best corner shadow one of the league's premier receivers, but the team was not prepared to battle without Roby, according to Michael Thomas following the loss.

"When you lose your starting corner like that, it's going to affect [the team]," Thomas said. "Anytime you have to make adjustments. If you're not prepared, and you don't have the right mindset, then you're probably not going to get the right results you want. Maybe we could have done it a little sooner, but you definitely miss a guy like Roby. You plan on having your number one guy go against their number one guy all the time."

Roby's premature exit left the Texans with a gaping void to slowdown Rodgers and the Packers without two of their projected starting corners. Gareon Conley — who revived his career during the second half of last season — has yet to play a single snap for Houston in 2020 as he continues to recover from offseason ankle surgery.

Their lackluster performance on Sunday showcased the lack of depth and talent the Texans have in the secondary. And with the trade deadline a week away, it may be in the Texans' best interest to invest in a young defensive back they can build around in the future — especially considering the timetable on Conley's return remains unknown.

Interim head coach Romeo Crennel said on Monday that the team is hoping Roby's injury is short-term and hopes to have their top corner make his return following the bye.

At 1-6 on the year, all the Texans have left to play for is pride as they close out the remaining nine games of the season, and the best way is to prevent another receiver from recording nearly 200 yards in a single game.

For this vulnerable secondary, it is a feat easier said than done. And with the talents of Jarvis Landry, T.Y. Hilton, and A.J. Brown remaining on the schedule, it is only best for Roby to make his return to the field sooner rather than later.

"I take pride in it. It's an opportunity that not a lot of guys get throughout the league, and I'm thankful for that. Just to be able to go against the best and try my best for the team and see how I match up. I'm very thankful for that." — Roby.

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