Manager Terry Francona emerged from Cleveland’s dugout in the third inning of Tuesday’s game against the Royals and sought answers from umpire Angel Hernandez.
The Royals had runners on second and third base with one out when Royals catcher Salvador Perez hit a fly ball to deep right-center field. The ball landed on the warning track between two Cleveland outfielders.
Hernandez, the first-base umpire, didn’t see what happened ... so he guessed and slightly raised his fist to signal an out. The umpiring crew later corrected the call to give Perez a single, but depending on your point of view, the play cost the Royals a run or Cleveland an out.
“I just kind of told Angel, ‘Why’s it always happening when you’re here?’” Francona told reporters after the game.
If it seems like you’ve notice Hernandez is in the middle of controversial calls more often than other umps, you’re not alone. A U.S. District Judge even noted Hernandez’s long list of errors.
Hernandez, who was born in Cuba, sued Major League Baseball in 2017, alleging race discrimination. The suit noted Hernandez had not been given a World Series assignment since 2005.
On March 31, the suit was dismissed. U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken said Hernandez had, per the Associated Press, “cited generally positive Field Evaluation Forms” in making his case for being discriminated against by MLB Chief Baseball Officer Joe Torre.
“Hernandez’s handful of cherry-picked examples does not reliably establish any systematic effort on MLB’s part to artificially deflate Hernandez’s evaluations, much less an effort to do so in order to cover up discrimination,” Oetken wrote, the Associated Press reported. “The evidence shows beyond genuine dispute that an umpire’s leadership and situation management carried the day in MLB’s promotion decisions.”
Oekten continued: “The explicit reason MLB offers — that according to Torre, Hernandez ‘has not demonstrated the leadership ability and situation-management skills in critical high-pressure roles on a consistent basis’ — is presented in clear and specific terms.”
Here are some of those clear and specific problems.
A Yankees third-base coach was ejected by Hernandez after a laughable strike call went against New York last summer. In spring training of 2019, A.J. Hinch, then the Astros’ manager, was ejected by Hernandez for arguing balls and strikes.
“We have technology to help you get better and that these pitches are strikes,” Hinch told MLB.com at the time. “He had kind of an arrogant attitude about it and didn’t want to hear it.”
During a spring training game in 2017, Hernandez ejected a player after he got a base hit:
And former Braves star Chipper Jones tweeted this about Hernandez in 2013:
The list goes on and on, but this quote from Yankees pitcher C.C. Sabathia in the 2018 American League Divisional Series speaks volumes. More than the judge’s comments, it could explain why Hernandez hasn’t worked a World Series in well over a decade.
“I need to say this,” Sabathia told reporters. “I don’t think Angel Hernandez should be umping playoff games. He’s absolutely terrible. He was terrible behind the plate today. He was terrible at first base. It’s amazing how he’s getting a job umpiring in these playoff games.”
The Washington Post reported Hernandez had three calls overturned in just one game of that series.
Sabathia added, “He’s bad. I don’t understand why he’s doing these games.”