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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