White Sox

White Sox to make Guaranteed Rate Field first stadium with protective netting that reaches foul poles

White Sox to make Guaranteed Rate Field first stadium with protective netting that reaches foul poles

The White Sox will become the first team in Major League Baseball to extend protective netting to the foul poles.

Dangerous line drives flying into the crowd are nothing new, but they’ve gained significant attention recently, most notably thanks to a ball off the bat of Cubs outfielder Albert Almora Jr. striking a young fan earlier this year during a game at Minute Maid Park in Houston. As the tracked exit velocities of batted balls continue to increase, the danger to fans sitting in unprotected sections of stadiums is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore.

The White Sox announced Tuesday that they will be extending the netting at Guaranteed Rate Field to the foul poles later this summer. Protective netting was extended to the ends of both dugouts in recent seasons, but fans sitting beyond that protection have been struck with balls, including a fan at Guaranteed Rate Field, who was taken to the hospital after being hit with a line drive off the bat of Eloy Jimenez earlier this season.

The Texas Rangers will have extended netting when their new stadium opens for the 2020 season, though it isn’t expected to reach the foul poles.

With the White Sox committing to increasing fan safety, several players were asked about the developments before Tuesday night’s Crosstown game on the North Side.

“I think it's great,” pitcher Lucas Giolito said. “For me, I think that in today's day and age, you have a lot of young fans, and guys are hitting the ball harder. I see the counter arguments like, 'Don't sit there' or, 'Just pay attention to the game.' Dude, no matter how much you're paying attention to the game, if that thing's coming in 115 miles an hour with tail, no matter if you have a glove this big, it could hit you right in the forehead. For me, being around baseball for so long, I think it's a smart move because it just keeps people safe. I hate seeing young kids get hit, having to go to the hospital. It just leaves a sick feeling in all of our stomachs. At the end of the day, I think it's the right move.”

"Yes, it’s good for them so the ball doesn’t hit them," Jimenez said. "When I hit the woman, I was super sad for that because I knew I hit it hard and it was straight in the face. You know that doesn’t feel good. That's why it's going to be good."

For many, this is a no-brainer of a decision to make it safer for fans of any age to attend a game. Some will bemoan the change in view from the seats in impacted areas of the stadium, but whether because of the phone in everyone’s pocket or just talking with the person next to you, “not paying attention” is a part of the experience of attending a game.

Incorporating additional safety measures makes too much sense not to do it, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Major League Baseball follow suit and impose similar requirements at every ballpark in the future.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.

White Sox Talk Podcast: Interview with Hall of Famer Harold Baines

baines_podcast.jpg
NBC Sports Chicago

White Sox Talk Podcast: Interview with Hall of Famer Harold Baines

Chuck Garfien sits down with new Hall of Famer Harold Baines.

First, Chuck, Ryan McGuffey and Chris Kamka share their memories of watching Baines play with the White Sox (1:40). Then, Baines explains why he's always been so soft-spoken (8:45), how he was able to play 22 seasons in the majors (13:00), why he's never spoken to GM Larry Himes for trading him to Texas (15:30), the apology he received from President George W. Bush (16:30), what he thinks about the critics who don't think he should be in the Hall of Fame (18:25), a replay of Baines emotional interview with Chuck about his dad (20:50) and more.

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below:

White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson discusses inspiring a younger generation of black baseball players, bat flipping and much more on Pull Up Podcast with CJ McCollum

0610_tim_anderson.jpg
USA TODAY

White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson discusses inspiring a younger generation of black baseball players, bat flipping and much more on Pull Up Podcast with CJ McCollum

White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson appeared on Thursday's episode of the Pull Up Podcast hosted by Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum and ESPN's Jordan Schultz to discuss many things including his MLB career, the charity work he does in the Chicago community and the need more expression and entertainment (overall) in baseball.

McCollum asked Anderson if the sport of baseball has evolved and what he would do to further these developments, based on the idea that the sport has a stigma of being boring, particularly within inner-city and/or largely black communities. Anderson stated, "They should allow players to have more fun.....just allow players to be themselves." 

Anderson discussed how being the only black player on the White Sox—the team that represents the South Side of Chicago—is extremely important to him and how great the White Sox organization has been at giving him every opportunity to be himself and "be comfortable". He expanded on how much he loves MLB life and how he wants to be able to pass on that love for the game to younger generations, especially the youth of the South Side of Chicago.

"I enjoy it [the responsibility of being the lone black player on the White Sox].....a lot of those kids in they area [the South Side], they kinda remind me of myself."

Schultz brought up the criticism of Anderson's bat flipping, asking him why it was so important for him to show that he was enjoying himself, at the expense of breaking one of baseball's "unwritten rules".

Being of a younger generation, Anderson lamented that it was indeed a new day in baseball and doubled down in saying that the simple aspect of having fun needs to be encouraged even more in the sport. 

"You're playing a game that you're failing most of the time and the times that you do succeed they don't want you to enjoy those moments. For me man, y'know, I think that's just a lot of pain showing.....from struggling, that's just that emotion that's coming out man. You know when you finally get to a point where you feel like you breaking through.....those moments that I want to remember and I want people around me to remember. That’s why I play the way that I do.”

Anderson is indeed having the best season of his career so far, with a slash line of .317/.342/.491 entering Friday morning. He is also nine home runs away from matching his season-high of 20 with over the half the season left to go.

With even more of a platform amid his career-year, Anderson has continued his crusade to make baseball fun again and doesn’t plan on changing up the way he plays the game anytime soon.


 

As touched on earlier in this post, Anderson wants to serve as a role model while also showing the youth that it is OK to be yourself as a Major League Baseball player.

In all the camps and baseball clinics that Anderon hosts, he always makes sure to answer every question about his unique experience in the MLB because he understands the value of kids getting to see someone who looks like them succeeding, even more so in a sport where the number black players sits at a mere 7.7% of the entire league

“Everything [is] not always good [for kids in inner-city communities], so I think that understanding that and kinda being a role model and motivating and inspiring those kids that look like me and I look like them, I think it's easier for those kids to look up to me. So that's why I go out and play hard and....enjoy the moment and do those crazy things on the field.....because that's what those kids like."

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.