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.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

Houston's losing streak extended to five games

With key Astros missing, Detroit completes the series sweep

An overall bad day for the Astros on Wednesday. Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

On Wednesday afternoon, the Astros received a big blow to their chances in the series finale against Detroit and potentially longer. Five players: Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez, Martin Maldonado, and Robel Garcia would all be moved to the IL due to health and safety protocols, leaving them scrambling to get a whole team together for the game against the Tigers.

The Astros would not be able to overcome both the loss of players and the onslaught of another strong start by Detroit in Wednesday's game which put them too far out front for Houston to come back from to avoid a series sweep.

Final Score: Tigers 6, Astros 4

Astros' Record: 6-6, third in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Michael Fulmer (1-0)

Losing Pitcher: Lance McCullers Jr. (1-1)

Tigers knock out another starter early

Detroit continued their success of making Houston's starter work hard in early innings, getting after Lance McCullers Jr., and giving him an early exit. After a lengthy fist, they broke through in the second getting two hits, a walk, a hit batter, and an RBI groundout to put up three runs on 34 pitches.

He would have a quicker 1-2-3 third, but after giving up a single, a walk, and hitting another batter to load the bases and reach 87 pitches, he would be removed in favor of Joe Smith. Smith would allow all three of the inherited runners to score, adding those runs to McCullers Jr.'s final line: 3.2 IP, 4 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 87 P.

Astros try to claw back into it

After Smith would go on to load the bases again in the inning, still with two outs, Houston made another pitching change to bring in Brandon Bielak to get the third out and stop the bleeding at 6-0. The Astros would get on the board in the fifth, getting a runner on base to set up a two-run homer by Jason Castro to cut the lead to 6-2.



Bielak remained in the game to try and eat up as many innings as possible. While he continued to hold the Tigers to their six runs through the six innings, the Astros clawed back into the game. In the bottom of the sixth, Houston put their first two batters on base with a walk and single before an RBI-single by Yuli Gurriel to make it 6-3. They would threaten for more but be held there for the time being.

Astros can't cash in, Tigers complete sweep

Ryne Stanek was Houston's next reliever in the top of the seventh, getting a 1-2-3 frame to keep it a three-run game, as did Brooks Raley in the eighth. In the home part of the inning, the Astros put their first two runners on base on an error and a walk, then loaded them with a one-out single by Carlos Correa. They'd waste their chance to make something happen, though, with an inning-ending double-play.

Ryan Pressly, who had no save opportunities in recent games, entered to get some work in the top of the ninth. He worked around a leadoff double for a scoreless inning, sending the 6-3 game to the bottom of the ninth. The Astros had yet another chance to make something happen, loading the bases with no outs to bring the go-ahead run to the plate. After two outs, Yuli Gurriel would bring one run in with a walk, but that's as close as they'd come, extending their losing streak to five games and getting swept by the Tigers.

Up Next: Houston will get a much-needed day off tomorrow to try and leave this poor homestand behind them. They'll pick things up in Seattle on Friday, with first pitch of the opener of three games at 9:10 PM Central. The expected pitching matchup is Jose Urquidy (0-1, 5.23 ERA) for the Astros and Yusei Kikuchi (0-0, 3.75 ERA) for the Mariners.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome