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If we're considering the discussion over adding more protective netting to Major League Baseball stadiums a "debate," it's going to be hard to find much difference of opinion inside big league clubhouses.

All the White Sox players who spoke on the matter Thursday afternoon were in favor of extending the netting at ballparks across the league. A night earlier, a young girl was hit by a line drive off the bat of Cubs outfielder Albert Almora Jr. Almora's emotional reaction went viral. But the day after, the talk was about what Major League Baseball can do to prevent that kind of thing from happening in the future.

One can argue that a rule extending protective netting should've been implemented prior to Wednesday night's incident in Houston. The league can respond by doing that now, and though the sample size was not large, it seems like such a decision would have the support of the players.

"I believe in netting completely all around. If not netting — I know the fans want to be close — just put up glass, like hockey," Yonder Alonso said. "There's a reason why in our dugout we always have protection, we have a net or a fence. But three feet behind us is the fans, and they have nothing.

"There's times when close calls come into the dugout and we can't even get out of the way. We're professionals, some guys have gloves, you're trying to get out of the way and we still get hit. So imagine a fan, who's probably eating some popcorn, they have no time."

 

While this danger has always existed for fans attending games, time has perhaps increased the damage that a line drive can do. Players are bigger and stronger and hitting the ball harder than ever, especially with such a focus on exit velocities. And of course every fan in the stands being equipped with a phone makes for less time locked into the game, no matter how intense your fandom might be.

"Guys are hitting the ball harder. We have 110-plus mile an hour exit velocities all the time now, line drives just flying into the stands," Lucas Giolito said. "You know, if everyone had a glove and everyone was fully aware, maybe not so much an issue, but sometimes you can’t even get out of the way.

"Like, even if you have the glove and you’re ready and you see the ball there might be spin on it where you’re not going to be able to react well no matter how athletic you are or if you have baseball experience. It’s just going to happen. So I think that more netting would help so that didn’t happen as much."

While there might be groans from a few who don't like sitting behind the netting, extending it to make fans safer seems like a no-brainer. Rules extending netting to the ends of the dugouts in recent years haven't prevented fans from sitting in those seats. It's doubtful teams would experience much of an increase in difficulty selling seats down the line if netting were installed all the way to the foul poles in big league parks.

"It's only for the safety of the fans," Alonso said. "I think it's crazy when a fan gets hit. There are foul balls that go in the upper deck, and fans still get hit. And you see them later on, they're hurting. So imagine (being) just 100 feet away.

"You've got to enjoy yourself. Enjoy your drink, enjoy your cheeseburger, have a talk, enjoy the baseball game for what it is. But it's coming. It's coming, and when it comes, it's dangerous."

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