NET GAINS

Ken Hoffman pitches solution for Major League Baseball safety concerns

Ken Hoffman pitches solution for Major League Baseball safety concerns
Photo courtesy of ABC13/David J. Phillip/AP

Scenes like this should be a thing of the past.

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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What's the plan for Tytus Howard this season? Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images.

Houston Texans OTA's are in full swing, and we can't remember there being this much optimism about the team in years. Which has a lot of national media outlets creating more content about the Texans than ever before.

But one thing to watch out for from these national content creators is how plugged in they really are to the team. When the Texans drafted tackle Blake Fisher in the second round, many believed that was a sign that he would be the starter at right tackle, and Tytus Howard would be moved back to guard.

But anyone that has actually watched Howard play, knows that he's a much better tackle than he is a guard. And it's not even close. The Texans have talked about getting their best five linemen on the field, so we're not ruling out Howard moving back to guard at some point.

At the end of the day, Howard has struggled to stay healthy and Laremy Tunsil missed some games last year too. It's more likely the Texans added Fisher as depth at the position for this season, and he could be Howard's replacement at right tackle in 2025.

Plus, the Texans spent the No. 15 overall on left guard Kenyon Green in 2023. They would love for him to live up to his potential and be their starting guard moving forward. At this point, Howard looks like Plan B or C at left guard should the team need him to play there again in a pinch.

Be sure to watch the video above as ESPN Houston's Paul Gallant and Joe George discuss how they see the Texans offensive line taking shape this season.

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